Beginning to Read Music

by John Craton

Raising and Lowering the Notes

Sometimes we want to play something that doesn’t fit the scale (or key) we are in exactly. This is done by placing a symbol before the note. (These symbols are called accidentals.) There are a number of different symbols used in music to do this, but the most common ones are as follows:

flat — lowers note by one half step
sharp — raises note by one half step
natural — restores note to its normal pitch

There also are symbols such as double-flats, double-sharps, and symbols for playing quarter-tones, but we will discuss these only when we encounter them.

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