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Taking the note G as an example, I know that in German G♭ is written 'Ges' and G♯ is written 'Gis'. But how are these pronounced? My dictionary gives me the spelling but not the pronunciation.

I would guess that you say two syllables: the name of the letter 'G' followed by 'es' or 'is' – is this correct?

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Also note (pun not intended) that in German, it's a H instead of B and H♭ is called B in German. – looper Apr 1 '13 at 12:00

1 Answer 1

In both cases it is spelled and pronounced as one word. Both '-es' [flat] and '-is' [sharp] are added.

Ges [G Flat] is pronounced like 'guess' in English (but with the 'u' not stressed too much]. Gis [G Sharp] in German sounds like 'kiss' with the 'k' spelled as soft as in "guess" …, like 'giss'.

Most musicians I know use Gsharp and Gflat because C, D, E, and G sound quite familiar :). In case one isn't sure, s_he uses the Ges for G Flat and so on.


I seem to have been informed wrongly on Geses e.a. and I am deeply sorry for havin spread that misinformation! I didn't delete my text below to keep up the context of the comments.

There is also a hardly outside classical music used variations like Geses [G Flat Flat = F] and Gisis [G Sharp Sharp = A]. This would be spelled like 'guesses' and 'gisses'. You might find this used among some classical musicians, but very rarely, as it makes no real sense.

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I'm sorry but that doesn't really answer the question. First of all when you say "spelled" I suppose you mean "pronounced" (Ges is not spelled like "guess"). Then "…the 'k' spelled as soft as in 'giss'" – that doesn't mean anything, I'm afraid. There is no 'k' in 'guess', and if you mean the 'g', it's hard, not soft. But thank you for trying. – abacus Apr 1 '13 at 6:45
OT: Geses is not F. "Ces-Es-Ges" is a C-flat major chord. "Ces-It-Gesses" is a reduced C-flat major chord. Since F does not belong to the key of C-flat major key, "Ces-It-F" is just a collection of sounds. Enharmonic equivalents are good. But there are instruments beyond the piano, that differentiate between pitches like Dis and Es. They are diffent strings and pedals on the harp. This differnetiation makes modern (non-classical) pieces like J.Williams STAR WARS Suite playable on the harp. So it makes sense, even if it might be not obvious. – harper Apr 1 '13 at 7:06
Again I'm sorry, but I don't think anyone has read my question. I'm not asking what the notes are called – I know that. I'm only asking how the German names are pronounced. – abacus Apr 1 '13 at 18:55
For instance, I know that the German names of English G sharp and G flat are, respectively, 'Gis' and 'Ges'. But is Gis in German pronounced as 'Giß' (one syllable) or 'G-iß' (two syllables)? Similarly, is Ges pronounced as 'Geß' or 'G-eß'? – abacus Apr 1 '13 at 21:22
@abacus In each case only one syllable. The second paragraph of the above Answer already states that. – Eugene Seidel Apr 1 '13 at 22:22

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