Notes on the Keyboard (video)
Updated: Aug 14, 2020
Today we're going to do a quick review of note names on the keyboard. So, um, the piano of course uses the western musical alphabet, which is the 12 distinct notes, and they repeat over and over again up and down the piano, and the western musical alphabet starts on A and goes through G and then starts back over at A again.
So we're going to start by looking at that in order of the regular alphabet for some reference. So this is C4, middle C, right here but instead of starting there we're going to start here on A3. So this is going to be A here [A3 note] and with each white note that we have we're going to have another note name. So we've got A B C D E F G and then A again [A3, B3, C4, D4, E4, F4, G4, A4 note]
And you'll hear that A [A3 note then A4 note] those two notes sound the same and that's how you know that you've gotten back to that same note and why we use the same letter name again. When you first come across the black key note names it might be a little bit more confusing because there's two names for each note and we're going to go over why there's two names for each note as we're naming them here.
Um, the short answer to that question is that it depends on what key you're in and we're going to do a video later on that talks about key signatures and this is one of those concepts that actually can make a little bit more sense once you get further on with it. So for now, take my word for it, we're going to review later why it makes more sense to have specific names in specific keys. But for today let's just talk about how we name those keys.
So each black note is going to have a name that has an accidental. So for example the note that lies between A and B right here is A-sharp and B-flat. Now remember that sharp is the accidental that means "move a half step up" and flat is the accidental that means "move a half step down". So if you think about it, A plus a half step would be A-sharp [A#3 note] right? And B minus a half step would be B-flat [Bb3 note, same pitch as A#3 note].
Now, you notice that when I play those two notes, they sound the same because I'm playing the same key. Um, and that is what's called enharmonic equivalency. So all that that means is that there are two notes that have the same name, but ... I'm sorry, two notes that have different names but sound the same pitch.
So we're going to go along here and name all the black notes as well, so using that same technique we've got C here. A B C. And we're going to go up by a half step, so we have C plus a half step is C-sharp [C#4 note]. And we could also refer to that one as D minus a half step, which would be D-flat [Db4 note, same pitch as C#4]. And then the next one up here between D and E we're going to take our D plus a half step is D-sharp [D#4 note] or E minus a half step, [Eb4 note, same pitch as D#4] E-flat.
Now there's no black note between E and F of course and um, moving on to this one here between F and G. F, we're going to add a half step to that, move a half step up. So F-sharp [F#4 note] or a half step lower than G, which would be G-flat [Gb4 note, same pitch as F#4]. And then between G and A we've got G plus a half step [ G#4 note] G-sharp, or A minus a half-step, A-flat [Ab4 note, same pitch as G#4].
Going back and looking at this chromatically, which just means going by each half step, we're going to go from A to A again because that can be a little bit more logical in terms of the regular alphabet that starts on A [A4 note], so we'll start here with A then we have A-sharp and B-flat [A#3/Bb3 note] then B [B3 note] C [C4 note] C-sharp and D-flat [C#4/Db4 note] D [D4 note] D-sharp and E-flat [D#4/Eb4 note] E [ E4 note] F [F4 note] F-sharp and G-flat [F#4/Gb4 note] G [G4 note] G-sharp and A-flat [G#4/Ab4 note] and we're back to A [A5 note]
And those are all of the notes on the keyboard. So come back next time for more detailed information on key signatures and how they affect the way that we name our notes.