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Notes on the Piano

Updated: Oct 25, 2022

Table of content

Introduction


In this article, we want to learn musical notes and allocate them to the piano keys. If you have read the first blog, you may have noticed that the musical notes are a chain of main seven notes on the loop. The notes are A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. This main chain of notes are common among all the instruments that we might know including vocal (singing) notes. We may add 5 extra middle notes as they appear in some instruments like the piano as well ( we get to this a bit later on here).


Octave

An octave is a common phrase we use in music. An octave means an interval of eight notes to reach the same note; eight notes higher (higher octave) or eight notes lower (lower octave). As an example travelling from C4 (middle C) to C5 is moving one octave higher. Also Traveling from G5 to G3 is moving two octaves lower. This can apply to all the existing keys on the piano.

A full-size piano has seven main octaves. ( See the grand staff below).


Looking at the piano keys, every octave includes seven white keys and five black keys. This loop chain of 12 keys repeats throughout the piano board.


One (default) piano octave


Extended piano keys - octave


Natural Keys


The white keys in the image above are called the natural keys. The seven natural keys on the piano are as below.


Natural piano keys


Accidental Keys


Now we have identified the seven natural keys on the piano, let's get to know the other 5 keys. The five black keys on the piano are called the accidentals. The accidental keys/notes are the semi-step notes between the two natural keys. Every accidental has two natural keys (white keys) next to it. Therefore every accidental key/ notes have two titles referring to its neighbouring and we indicate these titles with # (Sharp) or ♭ (Flat) signature. Generally, a sharp note is a half-step higher than a natural note, and a flat is a semi-tone lower.

Exception* There are a few keys that are excluded from having an accidental. Have a look at the image below to see if you can spot them.


Accidental piano keys


As it appears, each black key is accidental to its neighbouring. For example, the natural key of G has two accidental next to it; G# (G sharp) and Gb (G flat). At the same time, the accidental key of G# is also Ab (A flat) as well.


* As mentioned earlier there are some exceptions. If we look at the extended version of piano keys, we can notice these keys do not exist: (E#- Fb) and (B#-Cb).


Grand Staff


Now we can have a look at the grand staff where we can allocate all the treble and bass clef notes on the piano.


Grand staff (Octave 2 - 5)

*These are the majority of the notes we may need to play in many songs


If you have a piano/ instrument try to spot random keys and guess the names referring to the grand staff.


The note C4 (known as the middle C) is the shared main shared note between the two clefs as we mentioned in the previous post.


If you got any questions or opinions simply write them in the comment. In the Next posts, we will talk about the scales in addition to the accidental notes on the music sheet.

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