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Grade 4 Music theory lesson 2: double Sharps, dual Flats & Enharmonic Equivalents

Double Sharps

The sharp symbol (#) raises the key of a note by a semitone (or "half step"). D# is one semitone greater than D, and F# is one semitone greater than F.

Double sharps progressive the key of a keep in mind by two semitones (or a "whole step"), and also the twin sharp is published as a type of fancy cross, favor this: 


When you create them by hand, you have the right to just compose a typical cross, prefer an X. 

This note is G dual sharp: 



Double Flats

In the same way, a dual flat lowers the pitch of a keep in mind by two semitones (a whole step). Over there is no distinct symbol for a dual flat, we simply write two flat signs nearby to every other, prefer this: 


This note is E dual flat: 



Why perform we need double sharps and also flats?

Double sharps are an extremely common. We require them when we compose music in part minor keys, when those tricks contain a most sharps. You"ll learn much more about this in class three.

Double flats are much less common - they are usually offered when a item of music is modulating (in the procedure of an altering key).


Cancelling dual Sharps and also Flats

Double flats and sharps affect any subsequent notes in the same bar of the exact same pitch, just like single flats and also sharps. But let"s say you have actually a D double sharp followed by a D sharp. There are two means you deserve to notate this:

You have the right to write a single sharp or flat on the D#, or you can include a natural sign prior to the sharp/flat on the D#

Both that these approaches are acceptable:


Some human being consider that to it is in a bit "old fashioned" or "untidy" to use the second technique to release an accidental. Friend will most likely see it in many printed music, however. 

If you have to write a organic note after ~ a twin sharp/flat, simply write the note with a single natural sign: 


You don"t need to write two natural signs, one is sufficient (but 2 is additionally ok).


Enharmonic Equivalents

 "Enharmonic equivalent" may sound complicated, but it"s actually a very an easy idea.

Let"s begin with straightforward note - F sharp. We understand that F sharp is one semitone (half step) higher than F (natural). Yet we additionally know that it"s one semitone lower than G natural, so us could likewise call the keep in mind G flat. An enharmonic identical is just another way to "spell" the very same note. F sharp and G level are "enharmonic equivalents". 

Enharmonic equivalents are frequently used when we change crucial within a piece. 

Some typical enharmonic equivalents room C#/Db, D#/Eb, G#/Ab and also A#/Bb. These are the black notes ~ above a piano keyboard. 

Slightly trickier, these are white note on the piano: E/Fb, E#/F, B/Cb and also B#/C. 

All the note with twin sharps and also flats also have enharmonic equivalents: C##/D, D##/E, F##/G, G##/A and A##/B, and for the flats, C/Dbb, D/Ebb, F/Gbb, G/Abb and also A/Bbb.

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 Remember that when you compose scales, you have the right to only use each letter name as soon as (except for the tonic). This means that you need to be mindful to choose the exactly enharmonic equivalent. Because that example, in the scale of G# minor, the 7th degree of the range is F##. An enharmonic identical of F## is G natural, but you cannot compose G herbal in a G# boy scale, due to the fact that the letter name is already used.


In the Exam

In the grade 4 exam, you will certainly be asked to surname the enharmonic indistinguishable of one or two notes. It"s usually simpler to execute this if you deserve to imagine a piano keyboard. If you discover it hard to imagine in your head, sketch an octave that a mini keyboard out on the scrap paper you"re detailed with in the exam room.