What Are Sharps?, Looking into the # sign and what it means when reading music.
The Professor
Mar 11 2013, 11:56 AM
Theory Instructor
Posts: 888
Joined: 8-January 13
From: Manchester UK
What Are Sharps?

I’m sure you’ve all seen them at one time or another, that symbol next to a note on the staff that looks like a Twitter Hashtag, #, but what does that symbol mean?

The # next to a note is the “sharp” sign, which means that the note you are reading has been raised by one half-step, 1 fret on the guitar.

You will see this symbol in two places when reading music, the first is to the left side of the staff, which is called the key signature, and the second place is next to the note itself.

Whether it’s in the key signature or next to the note on the staff, the # always means the same thing, raise that particular note by a half-step when playing it.

This means that if you have the note C, and then next to it you have C#, the C# is one half-step higher, 1 fret higher, than the original note C.

Here is how all of the different notes look as natural notes and with their corresponding #’s next to them.

Attached Image

Notice how each note is raised by one fret, 1 half-step, whenever there is a sharp sign next to it. This is very important, as if there is the note C# in a melody line, and you play C while forgetting the #, it’s going to sound pretty bad most of the time.

So, whenever you see a # next to a note, just play one fret higher than you would if you were playing the original note without a #.

Test Your Theory Knowledge!

Here are a few questions to check out to see how your knowledge of Sharps is coming along. Feel free to post your answers below and I'll check out your work to see how you're doing.

1. What does a # do when it is next to a note on the staff?
2. How many fret's distance is 1 half-step?
3. Where are two places on the staff where you would see the # sign?

Do you have any questions about #’s or how they function in music? Share your thoughts or comments below.

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This post has been edited by The Professor: Mar 18 2013, 11:55 AM

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