Sorry, because it is really a basic question about music theory, but I am not a native English speaker and I have tried to search on the web and answer my question, but I am not able to find it. I am a beginner and I am learning on my own with the basics.

What does the flat (bemol) at the beginning of the stave do? What does it tell us?

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Sometimes there are multipe flats (bemol) at the beginning, or multiple sharps (diese).


2 Answers 2


Bemol is the French word for flat. It means that every note of that letter (in this case B) needs to be played a semitone lower than it normally is, as B natural originally, now Bb. That is - every note - in any octave - but it only displays one. On piano, B natural is a white key - Bb is the black key to its left.

The bemols and dieses (flats and sharps) at the beginning also give a clue as to the key of the piece. Each key has specific sharps or flats that belong, and these are displayed at the start of each line.The one shown tells either F major or D minor.

There are plenty of sites to google which expand on this answer. Did you edit out 'bemol'?

  • I'm so sorry, I edited it out, after I searched which is the english term for bemol but now I just added it again. Sorry... Thank you for help!
    – MM PP
    Oct 7, 2016 at 6:59

It is called a Key Signature. It aims to tell what the scale is and where the accidentals lie. In this case, we have the key with one flat, a Bb. This means we are either in F Major or d minor. Roughly speaking a Key Signature is the way we notate the key. A key is the what particular major or minor scale we are in.

Though the tonality does not always adhere to the Key Signature it gives us a good way to devise the key in which the piece starts. The use of further accidentals would then tell us if the piece modulates or even if it not a Major scale at all but some variant of the minor scale.

You can consider the Key Signature as the Musical form of a book. It gives us the framework whereby music can be notated in a manner that is at least in the west, universal.

  • Could be D minor as well!
    – Tim
    Oct 6, 2016 at 15:16
  • Hard to tell with only two notes (;
    – Neil Meyer
    Oct 6, 2016 at 16:45
  • That, nevertheless, is the key signature that is recognised as that of both F maj., and D min. Every piece written in D minor will be given the key sig. of one flat - Bb. Clues include the first and last bars; C# or not, but it still remains a fact. Merely seeing a key sig of Bb does NOT guarantee the piece will be in F maj.
    – Tim
    Oct 6, 2016 at 16:49
  • I have made an edit.
    – Neil Meyer
    Oct 7, 2016 at 6:27

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