Having an organized understanding of the relationship between the notes you are listening to will exponentially accelerate your ear training learning curve.
The best way to get this type of understanding organized, is through learning the proper spellings of enharmonic equivalents and the logic behind these spellings.
Start properly spelling your enharmonic equivalents now and save yourself from many future headaches when it comes to ear training.
How To Properly Spell Enharmonic Equivalents
Any note can have multiple spellings, but still sound the same. For this reason alone, many musicians struggle with music theory and their development of relative pitch is grossly stunted.
For example, a Bb (B flat) can also be spelled A# (A sharp) or Cbb (C double flat).
So which one is it? And how do you know which enharmonic spelling to use?
It all depends on the musical context and your understanding of that context.
To keep things simple, let’s take a look at a C major scale.
The C major scale is spelled:
- C (1st degree)
- D (2nd degree: this is a major 2nd from the root note C)
- E (3rd degree: this is a major 3rd from the root note C)
- F (4th degree: this is a perfect 4th from the root note C)
- G (5th degree: this is a perfect 5th from the root note C)
- A (6th degree: this is a major 6th from the root note C)
- B (7th degree: this is a major 7th from the root note C)
Now, let’s look at the note G. Any type of G will be some sort of 5th degree in the scale.
- The note G is a perfect 5th
- The note Gb is a diminished 5th
- The note G# is an augmented 5th
If you played a note F# (which is the same sound as Gb) and called it F#, then you are communicating that you are understanding this note to be some sort of 4th. In this example, F# is an augmented 4th.
However, if you communicate that this note was a Gb, then you are communicating your understanding of this note to be some sort of 5th. In this example, Gb is an diminished 5th.
Enharmonic equivalents also pertain to chord spellings.
Musicians that lack an understanding of proper spellings of enharmonic equivalents will often make this mistake when naming the chords of this ii, V, I chord progression.
- Incorrect: C# minor 7, Gb 7, B major 7 (This spells a ii, VI double flat, I chord progression)
- Correct: C# minor 7, F# 7, B major 7 (This spells a ii, V, I chord progression)
See how messy your thoughts can get if you misspell your enharmonic equivalents?
Messy thoughts stunt your growth.
List of Enharmonic Equivalents
Study the logic behind this list and learn how to spell your enharmonic equivalents properly each time.
To keep this list of enharmonic equivalents simple, all notes will be in relation to the note C.
- C = (unison)
- C# = (sharp 1)
- Db = (flat 2)
- D = (major 2)
- D# = (sharp 2)
- Eb = (flat 3)
- E = (major 3)
- F = (perfect 4)
- F# = (augmented 4)
- Gb = (diminished 5)
- G = (perfect 5)
- G# = (augmented 5)
- Ab = (flat 6)
- A = (major 6)
- A# = (raised 6)
- Bb = (flat 7)
- B = (major 7)