Sharps or Flats?
As we know a sharp/flat note can be called either sharp or flat. So how do we know which one it should be?
The simple explanation is the name you call it by is dependent on the key you are in. Here’s how it works. You can’t have two notes with similar names in the same key. So for instance you can’t have G and G, or G and G#, or G and G#. So if there is G in the scale/key the note G/F# will be called F#.
On top of that, you can’t have both sharps and flats in the same key. A key may include up to six sharp notes (the key of F# Major) or five flat notes (The Key of D Major). But never both.
For this reason, keys with sharps are sometimes known as sharp keys, and keys with flats are sometimes known as flat keys.
One final point. In the diagram below you may notice that in the keys of F# Major and D# Minor there’s a note called E#. This is the note we usually call F, but because there’s already an F note (F#) in the key, it’s called E#. This is the only time this ever occurs.
Don’t worry too much about what you call a sharp or a flat. If you refer to a chord or note as D# when it should be and E, any musician will know what you mean. But for the visitor who wants to know the real answer, hopefully this page helps.
|Note in Scale||Primary Triad Chord||Scale (Read down from root note)|
|Root||Root Major Chord||C||D||D||E||E||F||F#||G||A||A||B||B|
|Sixth||Relative Minor Chord||A||B||B||C||C#||D||D#||E||F||F#||G||G#|