Sharp (music)
In UnicodeU+266F MUSIC SHARP SIGN (♯)
Different from
Different fromU+0023 # NUMBER SIGN

In music, in English sharp – eqv. dièse (from French) or diesis (from Greek δίεσις)[a] – means higher in pitch. The sharp symbol, , indicates that the note to which the symbol is applied is played one semitone higher. The opposite of sharp is flat, indicating a lowering of pitch. The symbol derives from a square form of the letter b (see History of notation of accidentals for more information).


The sharp symbol is used in key signatures or as an accidental applied to a single note. The staff below has a key signature with three sharps (A major or its relative minor, F minor). The sharp symbol placed on the note indicates that it is an A instead of an A.

\omit Score.TimeSignature \relative c'' { \key a \major ais1 } }

In twelve-tone equal temperament tuning (the predominant system of tuning in Western music), raising a note's pitch by a semitone results in a note that is enharmonically equivalent to the adjacent named note. In this system, A and B are considered to be equivalent. However, in the majority of tuning systems, this is not the case.

Key signature

{ \omit Score.TimeSignature { \key cis \major s16^"" } }
The standard order in which sharps occur in a key signature is "F♯ C♯ G♯ D♯ A♯ E♯ B♯", with a maximum of 7.

In a key signature, sharps or flats are placed to the right of the clef. The pitches indicated apply in every octave.


of sharps

Major key Sharp notes Minor key
0 C major A minor
1 G major F E minor
2 D major F, C B minor
3 A major F, C, G F minor
4 E major F, C, G, D C minor
5 B major F, C, G, D, A G minor
6 F major F, C, G, D, A, E D minor
7 C major F, C, G, D, A, E, B A minor

The order of sharps in key signature notation is F, C, G, D, A, E, B. Starting with no sharps or flats (C major), adding the first sharp (F) indicates G major, adding the next (C) indicates D major, and so on through the circle of fifths.

Some keys (such as C major with seven sharps) may be written as an enharmonically equivalent key (D major with five flats in this case). In rare cases, the sharp keys may be extended further, GDAEBFdouble sharpCdouble sharp, requiring double sharps in the key signature: Fdouble sharp, Cdouble sharp, Gdouble sharp, Ddouble sharp, Adouble sharp, Edouble sharp, Bdouble sharp. These are called theoretical key signatures. This principle applies similarly to the flat keys.


When used as an accidental, the sharp symbol is placed to the left of the note head.

 { \omit Score.TimeSignature \relative c'' { bis1 } }

Accidentals apply to the note on which they are placed, and to subsequent similar notes in the same measure. In modern notation they do not apply to notes in other octaves, but this was not always the convention. If a sharp is used as an accidental, it can be cancelled on a subsequent similar note in the measure by using a flat () or a natural ().


A double sharp is indicated by the symbol double sharp and raises a note by two chromatic semitones.

 { \omit Score.TimeSignature \relative c'' { bisis1 } }

Historically, a double sharp was sometimes written , or .[1]

Less often (in microtonal music notation, for example) other types of sharps may be used: A half sharp, or demisharp, or quarter tone (half sharp) raises a note by approximately a quarter tone = 50 cents (Play), and may be marked with various symbols, often including half sharp, sometimes ++ instead. A sharp-and-a-half, three-quarter-tone sharp, or sesquisharp, raises a note by three quarter tones = 150 cents (Play) and may be denoted three quarter sharp.

\omit Score.TimeSignature \relative c'' { dih1 eisih } }

Although very uncommon, a triple sharp (triple sharp) can sometimes be found. It raises a note by three semitones or one whole tone and one semitone.[2][3]

\omit Score.TimeSignature \relative c'' {
  \tweak Accidental.stencil #ly:text-interface::print \tweak Accidental.text \markup { \concat { \sharp \doublesharp )) bis1
} }


The sharp symbol () resembles the number (hash) sign (#), in that both have two intersecting sets of parallel double lines. While the number sign may have a pair of horizontal lines, the sharp sign has a pair of slanted lines that rise from left to right instead, to avoid obscuring the staff lines. The other set of parallel lines are vertical in the sharp sign, while the number sign (#) may have slanted lines instead.[citation needed] It is also etymologically independent from the number sign.

Likewise, while the double-sharp sign double sharp resembles a bold-face lower-case x it needs to be typographically distinct.


In Unicode, assigned sharp signs are as follows:

Other notation and usage

 { \omit Score.TimeSignature \relative c'' { 
  bisis2 bis \accidentalStyle modern bisis2 bis } }

See also


  1. ^ For the etymology of the words dièse, diesis, and δίεσις, see diesis.


  1. ^ Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Musical Notation" . Encyclopædia Britannica. Vol. 19 (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press. p. 87.
  2. ^ Ayrton, William (1827). The Harmonicon. Vol. V. Samuel Leigh. p. 47. ISBN 1276309457.
  3. ^ Byrd, Donald (2018). "Extremes of conventional music notation" (academic pers. page). Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana.
  4. ^ Max Reger: Clarinet Sonata No.2 (Complete Score), pp. 33.: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
  5. ^ ♮♯
  6. ^ Chopin: Études No. 9, Op.10 (C.F. Peters), pp. 429.: Scores at the International Music Score Library Project
  7. ^ Fonville, J. (Summer 1991). "Ben Johnston's extended just intonation – a guide for interpreters". Perspectives of New Music. 29 (2): 106–137, esp. 109. doi:10.2307/833435. JSTOR 833435. ... the 25/ 24  ratio is the sharp () ratio ... this raises a note approximately 70.6 cents.