Sharps and flats - Part 2

Remember when we learnt the basics of sharps and flats? At that time, you saw a picture where the black keys were named in two different ways.

Since you now know how to find the correct notes of a musical family (in major), we can go into this in more detail. As an example, we will use the illustration of A-major again.

We have learnt that the third note within this family is a C#. However, the question is: why is it named C# and not Db? It's the same key on the piano, right? That's right! When in doubt about the name of a particular key, apply this rule: 'Each letter of the alphabet may only be used once'. Take a closer look at the picture above: every letter of the alphabet is in it. The first black key is called C# because the next note in this family is D, and we know by now that each letter can only appear once.

Suppose we name the first black key Db instead of C#, then the major scale of A would go something like this: A, B, Db, D, E, ... As we can’t use the same letter twice, we name the first black key C#. This way you never miss it!

Just rewind to the picture of the D-major scale. Can you find the note F#? Suppose we were to name it with Gb, we'd end up in the same situation again, wouldn’t we?

Do you fully understand this concept? Great! Then we’re ready for the next step: the minor scale.