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Figure 1. The notes A flat and A double flat on the treble clef.
Figure 1. The notes A flat and A double flat on the treble clef.

In music, flat means "lower in pitch." More specifically, in music notation, flat means "lower in pitch by a semitone (half step)," and has an associated symbol b, which looks somewhat like a lowercase "b". The Unicode character '♭' can be used to display a flat sign.

Under twelve tone equal temperament, C flat for instance is the same as, or enharmonically equivalent to, B natural, and G flat is the same as F sharp. Note that in any other tuning system, such enharmonic equivalences in general do not exist.

Double flats also exist, lower a note by two semitones, or a whole step. Less often (in for instance microtonal music notation) one will encounter half, or three-quarter, or otherwise altered flats.

The note A flat is shown in musical notation in Figure 1, together with A double flat.

In tuning, flat can also mean "slightly lower in pitch". If two simultaneous notes are slightly out of tune, the lower-pitched one (assuming the higher one is properly pitched) is said to be flat with respect to the other.

[edit] See also

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