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Double Flat
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Double Flat

In music, flat or bemolle (Italian: "soft B") means "lower in pitch". More specifically, in musical notation, flat means "lower in pitch by one semitone (half step)". Flat is the opposite of sharp, which is a raising of pitch.

In music notation, the flat symbol, , derived from a stylised lowercase "b", lowers a note by a half step (semitone).[1][2] For instance, the music below has a key signature with three flats (indicating either E major or C minor) and the note, D, has a flat accidental.

\relative c'' { 
  \clef treble \key es \major \time 4/4 \hide Staff.TimeSignature des1

The Unicode character ? (U+266D) can be found in the block Miscellaneous Symbols; its HTML entity is ♭.

Under twelve-tone equal temperament, C for instance is the same as (or enharmonically equivalent to) B, and G is equivalent to F. In any other tuning system, such enharmonic equivalences in general do not exist. To allow extended just intonation, composer Ben Johnston uses a sharp as an accidental to indicate a note is raised 70.6 cents (ratio 25:24), and a flat to indicate a note is lowered 70.6 cents.[3]

In intonation, flat can also mean "slightly lower in pitch" (by some unspecified amount). If two simultaneous notes are slightly out-of-tune, the lower-pitched one (assuming the higher one is properly pitched) is "flat" with respect to the other. Furthermore, the verb flatten means to lower the pitch of a note, typically by a small musical interval.

Key signatures

Flats are used in the key signatures of

The order of flats in the key signatures of music notation, following the circle of fifths, is B, E, A, D, G, C and F (mnemonics for which include Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father and Before Eating A Doughnut Get Coffee First).

Related symbols

Double flats also exist, which look like double flat (similar to two flats, ) and lower a note by two semitones, or a whole step. The Unicode character ? (U+1D12B) in the Musical Symbols block represents the double-flat sign.

\relative c'' { 
  \clef treble \key c \major \time 4/4 \hide Staff.TimeSignature beses1

A quarter-tone flat or half flat, indicating the use of quarter tones, may be marked with various symbols including a flat with a slash (flat stroke) or a reversed flat sign (half flat). A three-quarter-tone flat, flat and a half or sesquiflat, is represented by a half flat and a regular flat (three quarter flat).

\relative c'' { 
  \clef treble \key c \major \time 4/4 \hide Staff.TimeSignature ceh1 deseh

Although very uncommon, a triple flat (triple flat) can sometimes be found.[4] It lowers a note three semitones.

See also


  1. ^ Benward & Saker (2003). Music in Theory and Practice, Vol. 1, p. 6. McGraw-Hill, Seventh edition. "Flat ()--lowers the pitch a half step."
  2. ^ Flat, Glossary, Naxos Records
  3. ^ John Fonville. "Ben Johnston's Extended Just Intonation- A Guide for Interpreters", p. 109, Perspectives of New Music, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Summer, 1991), pp. 106-137. "...the 25/24 ratio is the sharp () ratio...this raises a note approximately 70.6 cents."
  4. ^ Byrd, Donald (September 2016). "Extremes of Conventional Music Notation". Indiana University Bloomington. Retrieved 2016. 

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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