Enharmonic: What Does It Mean in Music?


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Enharmonic: What Does It Mean in Music?

Good morning. This is Duane, and today I’d like to talk about enharmonic notes, enharmonic scales and enharmonic keys. Enharmonic, the word, means sounds the same, but it’s written differently.

For example, that key right there I could call either D-flat or C-sharp, is enharmonic. As I play it, you couldn’t tell whether it’s C-sharp or D-flat, but if you saw it on paper, it would either be a D-flat or a C-sharp. It would be written differently in other words, right?

The same thing is true of a scale. If that is D-flat or C-sharp, then this scale is also the C-sharp major scale or the D-flat scale. If I play in the key of D-flat (Duane is playing the piano), that’s also … I’m playing in the key of C-sharp. Those are inharmonic.

Let’s take a look a little deeper at that principle. If that’s D-flat and C-sharp, what is that? E-flat or D-sharp. What’s that? G-flat or F-sharp. What’s that? A-flat or G-sharp. What’s that? B-flat or A-sharp.

Now that’s pretty easy. There are some white keys, however, that are also enharmonic and you need to know about those. That note is F isn’t it? But sometimes—very rarely but sometimes—you’ll see E with a sharp in front of it. When you see that you will play the note that looks like F but it’s written as E-sharp. That note is normally played as E, but sometimes you’ll see a flat in front of F, and so that becomes F-flat. They’re enharmonic. I won’t explain the reasons for that right now. That’s a different subject and it takes a little while to explain … key orientation, but it’s still true that that happens once in a while.

These white notes here … that’s normally C, but what else could it be called? C-sharp, right? That note’s normally B, but it’s sometimes called what? C-flat, right? I can play it in a key, in an inharmonic key. I can play an inharmonic note. I can play an inharmonic scale.

That’s really all you need to know about inharmonic things. Thanks for being with me.

If you haven’t yet signed up for my free newsletter, be sure and do that. Come on over to playpiano.com. There’s lots of good stuff there about chords and chord progressions, and insights to music theory and so on, so be sure and take advantage of that.

Thanks a lot. We’ll see you tomorrow for another subject. Bye-bye for now.

Here is the video on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ZyzsQ5U84U

And here is an article in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Enharmonic

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