The term enharmonic if you haven’t heard it before, can be quite confusing. You’ll often get asked about it in a grade five music theory exam so it’s definitely worth learning for some easy marks.

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In this post we’re going to be looking at some examples of what enharmonic equivalents are and how they’re used in reading and writing music.


What Does Enharmonic Mean?

Although it sounds quite complicated, enharmonic essentially is an ‘alternate name for the same thing’.

For example, you could have a note like C# but you could also call this note Db.

They are the same note but have different names and so are enharmonic equivalents.

Types of Enharmonic Equivalents

There are actually lots of different types of enharmonic equivalents.

You can have enharmonic equivalent:

NotesScalesChordsKeysIntervals

We’ll go into some examples now to explain how they work.

Enharmonic Equivalent Notes

Notes can have more than one name.

For example, this note here could be either C sharp (C#) or D flat (Db) depending on how you look at it.

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B major

Enharmonic Equivalent Intervals

Enharmonic equivalent intervals are slightly different from notes, scales and keys but follow the same principle.

An enharmonic interval is two notes that are the same distance apart but spelt differently.

For example let’s take the two notes C and E which is a major 3rd.

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But, Fb is an enharmonic equivalent of E natural so we could also write this interval as C to Fb which although is the same amount of semitones apart is now described as a diminished 4th instead of a major 3rd.