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Why have sharps AND flats in music? Why not just use one of them??

Why have sharps AND flats in music? Why not just use one of them?? 

 

3/1/2021 
 
When describing music, sometimes it makes more sense to use sharps and sometimes it makes more sense to use flats. For instance, if we called the key of B flat by its enharmonic equivalent A sharp, there would be 10 sharps in the key signature. Since B flat only has two flats, it makes much more sense to use the key of B flat rather than A sharp.
 
It's crazy to think that I've been teaching music for almost 20 years. In that time, I've had the privilege of helping hundreds of people get started playing guitar and also improving on the guitar skills they already have. It's funny how often a lot of the same questions are asked over and over. 
 
One of these recurring questions goes something like this, "why do some notes have two names? Why is A# also called Bb? Why don't we just pick one???" 
 
This is a valid question! For someone who...
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Why do guitarists hate flat keys?

Why do guitarists hate flat keys?

Steve Newbrough


1/28/2021

Guitarists, knowingly or not, hate flat keys because each flat in a key signature removes an open string as a note choice. This literally makes it harder to play since the musician must fret more notes. 

 
Let's take the G chord vs. the A flat chord as an example. Using the six string first position version of G we have three closed notes and three open strings.
 
 
 
In the A flat chord, no matter how you swing it, there are zero open strings. 
 
Here's a typical way that a guitarist would hold an A flat chord:
 
 
 
 
Here's a crazy way for a guitarist to play an A flat chord:
 
 
 
If you thought the A flat was difficult to play consider that we don't usually play flat chords inside of sharp keys. That means that if you're playing an A flat chord it's likely that you're also playing in a flat key with other flat chords that are equally difficult.
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