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The first and sencod note is one step, so in Eb major, do you think that Eb is the first note while send note is Fb or E# makes sense ? Why is F?

3 Answers 3


In any key, the scale representing those notes (in order) need to each have a separate letter name. This is so that when written on the stave, each note has its own line or space. So, there's an E,F,G,A,B,C and D. One of each. In Eb, there are 3 flats, due to the spacing of each note - 1>2 tone, 2>3 tone, 3>4 semitone,4>5 tone, etc. So E, A and B need to be Eb Ab and Bb.

If the second note was Fb, as you suggest, it would only be a semitone from the root - it would be wrong. It can't be called E# (enharmonic to F), as there's already an E of some sort, and we try not to mix # and b anyway.

  • Hi, Tim. Eb is lowering semitone to E and Fb is raising semitone to E, so Eb to Fb is tone and Eb to F is a semitone+tone, am I right? Thanks for the note for not mix # and b. ;)
    – Lee
    Nov 15, 2016 at 16:36
  • @Lee - E lowered a semitone gets to Eb. Fb is rarely used, as it's the same note as E, and E works in most cases. Eb >Fb =semitone, Eb>F = tone. If you use a keyboard with these notes, it's easier to understand.
    – Tim
    Nov 15, 2016 at 17:14
  • Hi,Tim. Like you mentioned above, so E>F is semitone no matter in C major or Eb major, Right?
    – Lee
    Nov 16, 2016 at 10:14
  • @Lee - in 12tet, E>F is always a semitone, the key has no bearing on it at all, major or minor. Find a keyboard or even a picture of one, and you can count the steps easily.
    – Tim
    Nov 16, 2016 at 10:33

All major scales follow the following pattern of Whole steps (W) and Half steps (H): W W H W W W H.

All letters must be represented in alphabetical order (A, B, C, D, E, F, G, etc.)

So and Eb scale would be:

Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb do re mi fa sol la ti do I ii iii IV V vi vii* I

This is why Ab is called Ab, not G#. You can not have the same letter twice and all letters must be represented. And why F is called F, not E#.

Hope this helps.

  • The Roman numerals are used to represent chords which are made from each note in a key. The caps are major, lower case minor. Thus in Eb, iii=Gm. The solfege only works for moveable do, as fixed do is always C, making Eb then mi bemol (in French). It's a minefield!
    – Tim
    Nov 15, 2016 at 17:19

You can think of f as e#, but why would you want to? Musicians are trying to play two things in their head at the same time, so we want to make it easy for them. If we say e# they have to calculate that this means f. Why give them the extra step?

  • Also, E# doesn't exist in the key of Eb, because there's already an E - Eb.
    – Tim
    Nov 15, 2016 at 17:21

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