What Are Flats?, Learn what flats are, how they are written and how they effect notes
Mar 12 2013, 05:13 PM
Theory Instructor
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What Are Flats?

As we learned in a previous lesson, when you add the # (sharp) sign to any note, you are raising that note by one half-step, one fret on the guitar.

Today, we will take a look at the b (flat) symbol and how it effects any note when you see it written next to a note on the staff and have to translate that onto the guitar.

To simplify things, the flat sign means that the note it is next to has been lowered by a half-step, one fret on the guitar.

So, if you have the note Db written in a piece of music, you look for a D on the guitar and then just move down one fret to play the flattened version of that note, Db.

If you are on the 3rd string, the D is on the 7th fret, and the Db is on the 6th fret, so one fret lower.

Here is how that would look when you have all the “un-flattened” notes next to their flattened versions on the Treble Clef.

As you can see, whenever you have a b (flat) symbol, you simply play one fret lower than the original note to make it flat.

Here are a few questions to check out to see how your knowledge of Flats 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 b 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 b sign?

Do you have any questions or comments about flats or how they apply to music? Share them in the comments section below and I’ll be happy to help out.

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

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