Sharp (music)
In music
Music is an art form whose medium is sound and silence. Its common elements are pitch , rhythm , dynamics, and the sonic qualities of timbre and texture...

, sharp, dièse (from French
French language
French is a Romance language spoken as a first language in France, the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the regions of Quebec and Acadia in Canada, and by various communities elsewhere. Second-language speakers of French are distributed throughout many parts...

), or diesis (from Greek
Greek language
Greek is an independent branch of the Indo-European family of languages. Native to the southern Balkans, it has the longest documented history of any Indo-European language, spanning 34 centuries of written records. Its writing system has been the Greek alphabet for the majority of its history;...

) means higher in pitch and the sharp symbol raises a note
In music, the term note has two primary meanings:#A sign used in musical notation to represent the relative duration and pitch of a sound;#A pitched sound itself....

 by a half tone. Intonation
Intonation (music)
Intonation, in music, is a musician's realization of pitch accuracy, or the pitch accuracy of a musical instrument. Intonation may be flat, sharp, or both, successively or simultaneously.-Interval, melody, and harmony:...

 may be flat, sharp, or both, successively or simultaneously
Simultaneity (music)
In music, a simultaneity is more than one complete musical texture occurring at the same time, rather than in succession. This first appeared in the music of Charles Ives, and is common in the music of Conlon Nancarrow and others....

. More specifically, in musical notation
Musical notation
Music notation or musical notation is any system that represents aurally perceived music, through the use of written symbols.-History:...

, sharp means "higher in pitch
Pitch (music)
Pitch is an auditory perceptual property that allows the ordering of sounds on a frequency-related scale.Pitches are compared as "higher" and "lower" in the sense associated with musical melodies,...

 by a semitone
A semitone, also called a half step or a half tone, is the smallest musical interval commonly used in Western tonal music, and it is considered the most dissonant when sounded harmonically....

 (half step)," and has an associated symbol , which may be found in key signature
Key signature
In musical notation, a key signature is a series of sharp or flat symbols placed on the staff, designating notes that are to be consistently played one semitone higher or lower than the equivalent natural notes unless otherwise altered with an accidental...

s or as an accidental
Accidental (music)
In music, an accidental is a note whose pitch is not a member of a scale or mode indicated by the most recently applied key signature. In musical notation, the symbols used to mark such notes, sharps , flats , and naturals , may also be called accidentals...

, as may flats.

Under twelve-tone equal temperament
Equal temperament
An equal temperament is a musical temperament, or a system of tuning, in which every pair of adjacent notes has an identical frequency ratio. As pitch is perceived roughly as the logarithm of frequency, this means that the perceived "distance" from every note to its nearest neighbor is the same for...

, B sharp, for instance, sounds the same as, or is enharmonic
In modern musical notation and tuning, an enharmonic equivalent is a note , interval , or key signature which is equivalent to some other note, interval, or key signature, but "spelled", or named, differently...

ally equivalent to, C natural, and E sharp is enharmonically equivalent to F natural. In other tuning systems, such enharmonic equivalences in general do not exist. To allow extended just intonation
Just intonation
In music, just intonation is any musical tuning in which the frequencies of notes are related by ratios of small whole numbers. Any interval tuned in this way is called a just interval. The two notes in any just interval are members of the same harmonic series...

, composer Ben Johnston uses a sharp to indicate a note is raised 70.6 cent
Cent (music)
The cent is a logarithmic unit of measure used for musical intervals. Twelve-tone equal temperament divides the octave into 12 semitones of 100 cents each...

s (ratio 25:24), or a flat to indicate a note is lowered 70.6 cents.

In tuning, sharp can also mean "slightly higher in pitch" (by some unspecified amount). If two simultaneous notes are slightly out of tune, the higher-pitched one (assuming the lower one is properly pitched) is said to be sharp with respect to the other. Furthermore, the verb sharpen means "raise the frequency of a note, typically by a small musical interval
Comma (music)
In music theory, a comma is a minute interval, the difference resulting from tuning one note two different ways. The word "comma" used without qualification refers to the syntonic comma, which can be defined, for instance, as the difference between an F tuned using the D-based Pythagorean tuning...

Double sharps also exist; these are denoted by the symbol and raise a note by two semitones, or one whole tone. Less often (in for instance microtonal music
Microtonal music
Microtonal music is music using microtones—intervals of less than an equally spaced semitone. Microtonal music can also refer to music which uses intervals not found in the Western system of 12 equal intervals to the octave.-Terminology:...

 notation) one will encounter half, or three-quarter, or otherwise modified, sharps. A half sharp indicates the use of quarter tone
Quarter tone
A quarter tone , is a pitch halfway between the usual notes of a chromatic scale, an interval about half as wide as a semitone, which is half a whole tone....

s, and may be marked with various symbols including .

Although very uncommon and used only in modern classical music, a triple sharp can sometimes be found. This raises a note by three semitones.

Correctly drawing and printing the sharp sign

The sharp symbol may be confused with the number (hash or pound) sign
Number sign
Number sign is a name for the symbol #, which is used for a variety of purposes including, in some countries, the designation of a number...

 (#). Both signs have two sets of parallel double-lines. However, a correctly drawn sharp sign must have two slanted parallel lines which rise from left to right, to avoid being obscured by the staff lines. The number sign, in contrast, has two compulsory horizontal strokes in this place. In addition, while the sharp also always has two perfectly vertical lines, the number sign (#) may or may not contain perfectly vertical lines (according to typeface and writing style).


In Unicode, the sharp symbol (♯) is at code point U+266F. Its HTML entity is ♯. The double sharp symbol is at U+1D12A (so 𝄪). These characters may not display correctly in all fonts.

Order of sharps

The order of sharps in key signature
Key signature
In musical notation, a key signature is a series of sharp or flat symbols placed on the staff, designating notes that are to be consistently played one semitone higher or lower than the equivalent natural notes unless otherwise altered with an accidental...

Modern musical symbols
Modern musical symbols are the marks and symbols that are widely used in musical scores of all styles and instruments today. This is intended to be a comprehensive guide to the various symbols encountered in modern musical notation.- Lines :- Clefs :...

 is F, C, G, D, A, E, B ("F"at "C"ats "G"o "D"own "A"lleys "E"ating "B"irds), each extra sharp being added successively in the following sequence of major keys: C→G→D→A→E→B→F→C. (These are sometimes learned using an acrostic
An acrostic is a poem or other form of writing in which the first letter, syllable or word of each line, paragraph or other recurring feature in the text spells out a word or a message. As a form of constrained writing, an acrostic can be used as a mnemonic device to aid memory retrieval. A famous...

 phrase as a mnemonic
A mnemonic , or mnemonic device, is any learning technique that aids memory. To improve long term memory, mnemonic systems are used to make memorization easier. Commonly encountered mnemonics are often verbal, such as a very short poem or a special word used to help a person remember something,...

, for example Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle.) Similarly the order of flats is based on the same natural notes in reverse order: B, E, A, D, G, C, F (Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father.), encountered in the following series of major keys: C→F→B→E→A→D→G→C.

In the above progression, key C (with seven sharps) may be more conveniently written as the harmonically equivalent key D (with five flats), and likewise C (with seven flats) written as B (with five sharps). Nonetheless, it is possible to extend the order of sharp keys yet further, through C→G→D→A→E→B→F→C, adding the double-sharped notes F, C, G, D, A, E and finally B, and similarly for the flat keys, but with progressively decreasing convenience and usage.
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