Want to learn all the notes on the piano, but just don't know where to start?
We did too, but we couldn't find an easy guide online that didn't give us a headache.
We get it…
Music theory can be overwhelming and long bits of text can & guides that aren't easy to follow can dishearten you.
That's why we've started a series that will teach you the basics of piano and music theory without the hassle.
Starting today with:
All the notes on the piano.
You're about to become a Jedi Master… promise 😉
Btw, if you're looking for a stress-free way to learn Piano quickly & for a low cost, we recommend:
It's super cheap and you'll see progress at an incredible pace!
To master all of the notes on piano, we have to start somewhere.
And, we're gonna start with the easy bit… the white keys.
WHAT ARE THE WHITE KEYS?
The white keys on the piano are simply all of the white keys you see across the piano board.
They're also known as what we call a ‘natural‘ note (don't worry about this yet).
There are in total, 7 white notes in each octave (more about this later), and each note has a value.
To understand fully what the white keys are, we're going to run through some practical exercises together.
First, let's find the C note.
To find the C note, all we need to do is, look out for the groups of two black notes on the piano board.
Then, look the first black key in that group of two and play the white note below it.
This note is C.
If we wanted to find any other C note, we could just use the same technique.
Another interesting thing to note is:
If we continue to move up 8 white notes from the C, we find ourselves at another C but just at a higher pitch than before.
This is called an octave.
You guessed it: if we move up or down 8 steps from any C on the board, we get to another C.
So now we've found C, how can we find the other notes?
Let's start by finding middle C and go from there. (we're learning this because this where you should naturally start when playing piano)
Middle C is where your right hand's thumb should be resting when playing the piano (more on this in our other piano series').
To find middle C, all we need to do is find the bottom C on our keyboard or piano.
Then, (including the bottom C) count until we reach the 4th C note.
Remember when we spoke about octaves earlier?
This will be 3 octaves from the bottom C on your keyboard or piano.
Now we know what middle C is and how to find it, let's move on to the next challenge.
ALL THE WHITE NOTES ON PIANO
As we know each white key should have a value.
And, in music we use letters as placeholders for notes.
That means, each note on the keyboard has it's own letter.
There are 7 white notes in an octave and we use the first 7 letters of the alphabet to label these notes.
A, B, C, D, E, F, G
Since we're starting from that middle C we talked about earlier, we're going to label the notes in this order:
C, D, E, F, G, A, B
Then give us a high five, because you just wiped the floor with that ?.
ALL THE BLACK NOTES ON PIANO
Just like the white keys, the black notes are all the black coloured notes you see across your piano.
They appear in groups of 2 and 3 around the white keys, as you can see below.
That means that between each C (each octave), we have 5 black notes that need naming.
What can we name them if we're only using the first 7 letters of the alphabet?
You remember when we mentioned ‘natural' notes earlier?
Well each of the black notes is either called a ‘sharp' or ‘flat' (an accidental).
This allows us to use the same 7 alphabetical letters we were using before for the black notes.
To simply put it ‘sharp' means to go higher and ‘flat' means to go lower.
When playing sharps we always go to the right of the white note being played.
When playing flats, we always go to the left of the white note being played.
Therefore, if we wanted to find out what the black note was next to C, we'd have to call it a sharp.
If we wanted to know what the black note below D was, we'd have to call it a flat.
C sharp & D flat.
We can also write these as: ‘C#' and ‘D♭'
If you're wondering what these symbols mean, ‘#' means a sharp note and ‘♭‘ means flat note.
In each octave there are 5 black notes, which means we can write them in two ways:
C#, D# F#, G#, A#
D♭, E♭, G♭, A♭, B♭
If you compare the two octaves above, you'll notice that the notes listed are the EXACT same notes when played in the order we've given them in.
Give it a try and you'll see!
What's the difference between a flat & sharp and why do we use them?
When playing a piece of music you might see a D♭instead of a C#. Although they're the exact same note, there's a reason we would do this.
Often, when you see something like this, it's due to the key that the piece being played is in.
The key is based off of what we call a scale, and scales can have both flats and sharps in them.
Depending on the key signature we're in, we call the notes either ‘sharp' or ‘flat'.
So now we've know all the notes on piano, their names and how we can play them, what else is there to learn?
There's one more thing we haven't yet covered.
This is a little bit more advanced, but don't worry about it too much.
When playing the piano, our white notes can also either be flat or sharp.
When taking a look at the gap between E and F, you'll notice that there are no black notes in-between them.
That means no sharps or flats right?
In fact, in this instance we could call the white note above E an E#.
We could also call the note below F an F♭.
Also, when we look further up the piano, we can see that very same gap between the B and the C. The same techniques could be used here and we could call either of the white notes sharp or flat.
A lot of the time you won't ever come across these values, but it's something we felt you should know moving forward to further your understanding.
Congratulations for having the grit and determination to get through to the end of this article! Give yourself some praise.
If you're looking to further your music production/theory knowledge, check out some of our other posts.
Also, if you're looking for new music, be sure to check out our producer of the day series.
Keep up the good work, keep practising and grind like you've never done before.
You got this.
See you on the next one.