Flat (music)

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Half-tone between C and D, 100 cents About this sound Play 
C major / A minor key signature

In music, flat, or bemolle (Italian: "soft B") means "lower in pitch". In music notation, the flat symbol, , derived from a stylised lowercase "b", lowers a note by a half step (semitone).[1][2] Intonation or tuning is said to be flat when it is below the intended pitch.

Flat accidentals are used in the key signatures of

The order of flats in the key signatures of music notation, following the circle of fifths, is B, E, A, D, G, C and F (mnemonics for which include Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father and Before Eating A Doughnut Get Coffee First).

The Unicode character ♭ (U+266D) can be found in the block Miscellaneous Symbols; its HTML entity is ♭.

Under twelve-tone equal temperament, C for instance is the same as (or enharmonically equivalent to) B (B-natural), and G is the same as F (F-sharp). In any other tuning system, such enharmonic equivalences in general do not exist. To allow extended just intonation, composer Ben Johnston uses a sharp as an accidental to indicate a note is raised 70.6 cents (ratio 25:24), and a flat to indicate a note is lowered 70.6 cents.[3]

Related symbols[edit]

Quarter tone between C and Dthree quarter flat (flat and a half), 50 cents About this sound Play 
Three-quarter tone between C and Dhalf flat (half flat), 150 cents About this sound Play 

Double flats also exist, which look like double flat (similar to two flats, ) and lower a note by two semitones, or a whole step. The Unicode character 𝄫 (U+1D12B) in the Musical Symbols block represents the double-flat sign.

Although very uncommon, a triple flat (triple flat) can sometimes be found.[4] It lowers a note three semitones.

A quarter-tone flat or half flat, indicating the use of quarter tones, may be marked with various symbols including a flat with a slash (flat stroke) or a reversed flat sign (half flat).

A three-quarter-tone flat, flat and a half or sesquiflat, is represented by a half flat and a regular flat (three quarter flat).

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Benward & Saker (2003). Music in Theory and Practice, Vol. 1, p. 6. McGraw-Hill, Seventh edition. "Flat ()—lowers the pitch a half step."
  2. ^ Flat, Glossary, Naxos Records
  3. ^ John Fonville. "Ben Johnston's Extended Just Intonation- A Guide for Interpreters", p. 109, Perspectives of New Music, Vol. 29, No. 2 (Summer, 1991), pp. 106–137. "...the 25/24 ratio is the sharp () ratio...this raises a note approximately 70.6 cents."
  4. ^ Byrd, Donald (September 2016). "Extremes of Conventional Music Notation". Indiana University Bloomington. Retrieved 4 November 2016. 

External links[edit]