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Lesson 7: Accidentals

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Video transcript

- [Man] Let's look at our C major scale on the keyboard of a piano. First notice that we only use the white keys. Let's begin on the middle C, and play the eight note scale in the treble clef to the next C ascending. (piano music playing) Now let's begin on middle C and play the C major scale descending in the bass clef. (piano music playing) Still using the piano keyboard, let's study the black notes. To do this, we need to understand accidentals. The two primary accidentals are a sharp and a flat. These signs always preseed the note. The sharp changes the note in an upward direction, while a flat changes a note in a downward direction. Let's play a G in the treble clef on the second line. (piano music playing) If we add a sharp, we have written the note G sharp, and it is the black key on the piano keyboard just above the G. (piano music playing) If we place a flat in front of the G, the note becomes a G flat, and we play the black key just below the G. (piano music playing) Let's also do this exercise on an A. First the A, now an A sharp, now the A again, and then A flat. You've probably noticed that the G sharp and the A flat are the same sounding note, but of course they're notated differently. This is called an enharmonic equivalent. The notes have different names, but they sound the same. (piano music playing) If we place a sharp in front of a C, and a flat in front of a D, these notes sound the same but again are spelled enharmonically. On our piano keyboard, notice that between the B and C, and the E and F, there is no black key. Therefore, a C flat is the same as a B natural, and a B sharp is the same as a C natural. An F flat is the same as an E natural, and an E sharp is the same as an F natural.