Sharp (music)

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In music, sharp, diese (from French), or diesis (from Italian)[1] means higher in pitch and the sharp symbol raises a note by a half tone[2]. Intonation may be flat, sharp, or both, successively or simultaneously. More specifically, in musical notation, sharp means "higher in pitch by a semitone (half step)," and has an associated symbol (), which may be found in key signatures or as an accidental, as may flats.

Under twelve-tone equal temperament, B sharp, for instance, sounds the same as, or is enharmonically equivalent to, C natural, and E sharp is enharmonically equivalent to F flat. In other tuning systems, such enharmonic equivalences in general do not exist. To allow extended just intonation, composer Ben Johnston uses a sharp to indicate a note is raised 70.6 cents (ratio 25:24), or a flat to indicate a note is lowered 70.6 cents[3].

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".

Double sharps also exist; these are denoted by the symbol double sharp and raise a note by two semitones, or one whole tone. Less often (in for instance microtonal music notation) one will encounter half, or three-quarter, or otherwise modified, sharps. A half sharp indicates the use of quarter tones, and may be marked with various symbols including Arabic music notation half sharp.svg.

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

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

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