A flat symbol (b) looks like a lower case B and it lowers the pitch (note) a half step. Let’s say you are playing D (white key) and needed to play Db (D flat), you would play the black key to the left of the white key. A flat note is an alteration of the natural note. It lowers the note a half step (or semitone lower) than the natural note that appears on the line or space of the staff.

How are flat notes written in music notation? The circle of the flat symbol (b) goes on the line or space of the note it represents. When you are writing the symbol with the note (in the staff) you place it before the note. When you are writing the symbol with the letter name Db, you place the symbol after the letter.

You can also lower a note that is already flat by using a double flat symbol, indicated by the symbol bb. There is also a triple flat (which is rarely used). If you played a double flat

D (Dbb), you would actually be playing B.

A flat symbol is used in some key signatures, they are always in the same order Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb, Fb. If you have one flat in the key signature it would be Bb. If there are 3 flats in the key signature they will be Bb, Eb, & Ab. The key of C has no sharps or flats in the key signature.

The key signature is located to the left of the time signature (see 9/16 blog about “How To Count In Music”). It is in between the treble & bass clef and the time signature. (See blogs from 9/14 & 9/15 How To Read Music part 1 & 2). We will discuss key signatures in future blogs.


How do you define a perfect pitch? When the Saxophone lands in the MIDDLE of the dumpster.