Enharmonics in orchestration


Our content relies on support from our readers. This means if you click on some of our links and make a purchase, we'll receive a small commission. You won't pay a penny more, so no worries!  Learn More

Chord Arpeggios

In mm. 1-2, you may wonder why the lowest cello note is written as a D♯ instead of an E♭. The notes E♭ and B spell an augmented 5th interval, which is somewhat awkward to read. By using the enharmonic equivalent (D♯), the interval becomes a 6th, which is much easier for a cellist to read and understand.

What if we had notated the interval as E♭ and C♭? This would certainly be a 6th, however, the cellos alternate every two measures between this interval and A. The distance between C♭ to A is a diminished 3rd, which is also awkward. Overall, we feel D♯-B is the better choice.

[Study Pack]

This post was brought to you in collaboration with our partner site Behind the Score. Discover the Harmony Secrets of Modern Film and Video Games.

View complete editions of music scores (PDF), score analysis (PDF), and HD music examples used in this lesson.