This may sound like an academic discussion, but it's really not. Are enharmonically equivalent notes such as Ab and G# the same note or not? And what difference does it makes exactly?
The answer to the question is in the title: no, Ab and G# are not the same note. And this even considering that:
• Yes, these two notes have the same pitch (i.e. they have measurably the same frequency). To be precise, this happens only in equal temperament, but even then these two notes are different.
• Yes, these two notes are enharmonically equivalent.
• Yes, some musicians do confuse the two notes and notate them 'randomly'.
As in many other topics in music theory, it's not really important to just know the correct answer to a question (yes/no): the important thing is to know why this is the correct answer and what difference does it make in practice.
In this video we will learn the practical difference between Ab and G# (and also other enharmonically equivalent notes), we will see why musicians are (or should be) particular about spelling some notes with a sharp or a flat, and we will hear some nifty chord progressions too.
And if you liked the chord progressions in the video above, now that you know the difference between Ab and G# you will enjoy the chord progressions in this other video much more:
Tommaso Zillio is a professional prog rock/metal guitarist and composer based in Edmonton, AB, Canada.
Tommaso is currently working on an instrumental CD, and an instructional series on fretboard visualization and exotic scales. He is your go-to guy for any and all music theory-related questions.
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