The Names of Musical Notes

Notes in traditional music theory are represented by the first seven letters of the Latin alphabet; A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. However these aren’t the only notes in music, there are also sharp and flats, and they fall between these main notes.

Why are they called sharps and flats?

Simple, because the sharp is sharp in that it’s pitched one note above the main note, making it sharper. Where as the flat notes are literally flattened a semi-tone below a main note; hence it is flat. Here is the confusing part. Flats and sharps are actually the same note.

Take the note between G and A. This note can be called either G# or A♭. And just so you know the symbol for sharp is # and the symbol for flat is ♭.

There are 2 places in the musical alphabet where there are no sharps or flats — between E and F, and between B and C. You can see this clearly in the diagram below.

Also pay close attention to the string names, from the thickest most string to the thinnest the ‘open’ string names are E A D g b e. An easy way to remember them is with the phrase Every August Dogs Go Biting Elvis.