What Are Double Flats?, Learn how to recognize and use double flats in musical notation
Mar 23 2013, 10:46 AM
Theory Instructor
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What Are Double Flats?

Up to this point in your development as a guitarist and theory connoisseur, you have no doubt encountered many flat ( signs as you’ve read through music and studied from standard notation.

But, a more rare, though just as important variation, to the flat sign is the double flat. Written as bb, literally double the flats, this symbol represents a note that has been lowered twice from it’s original natural form.

Here is an example of how that works using the note G as the foundation note. First you will see how G is lowered by a half-step, 1 fret, to make it Gb. Then, it is lowered by another half-step, 2 frets total, to make it Gbb.

As further examples, here are four notes, E, D, B and A, all next to their relative double-flat counterparts.

So, though it is a rare interval, as compared to the many #’s and b’s we see on a daily basis, the double flat does come up, and so we need to know what it is and what it means so we aren’t caught off guard when we see it on a lead sheet or in a book of musical notation.

Here is a little quiz on the above material to test your knowledge of double flats. Post your answers below, using the spoiler button, and I can check your work to see how you did.

1. When you see a flat sign, how many frets do you lower a given root note?
2. When you see a flat sign, how many half-steps do you lower a given root note?
3. When you see a double flat sign, how many frets do you lower a given root note?
4. When you see a double flat sign, how many half-steps do you lower a given root note?
5. How would you write the double flat version of the notes, A, B, D, E, G?

Spoiler:

If you have any questions regarding double flats, or anything theory related, feel free to post it below and I will answer as soon as possible.

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