(♭♭) Double-Flat - Definition

Double flats on a staff

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A double-flat is the equivalent of two flats, and lowers a note’s pitch by two half steps. The double-flat symbol (♭♭) is placed before a note like other accidentals.

While single flats usually point to black piano keys, double-flats often point to piano naturals; an Ab is a black key, but Abb is the G natural key (see enharmonic notes).

  • Exceptions to this are Fb and Cb, which point to the E and B natural keys, respectively; and Fbb and Cbb, which are the Eb and Bb keys.

The Purpose of the Double-Flat

Double-accidentals are not seen in any working key signature. In fact, if there were a key signature after Cb major (which has the maximum seven flats), it would contain a B double-flat.

But in everyday notation, double-flats are necessary in certain scenarios. Suppose you were composing in the key of Cb major (which puts a flat on every note) and wanted to write a G natural in a measure or passage containing a lot of Gb’s. Instead of alternating between writing G natural and G flat, you could indicate the tone of G by writing an A double-flat instead.

**Double-accidentals were previously canceled using double-natural symbols. Today, only one natural sign may be used.

Also Known As:

Italian Music Commands to Know:

▪  : "from nothing"; to gradually bring notes out of complete silence, or a crescendo that rises slowly from nowhere.

▪  decrescendo: to gradually decrease the volume of the music. A decrescendo is seen in sheet music as a narrowing angle, and is often marked decresc.

▪  delicato: “delicately”; to play with a light touch and an airy feel.

▪  : very sweetly; to play in a particularly delicate manner. Dolcissimo is a superlative of "dolce."

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