Take a look at the unlabelled piano keyboard above. Do you see the pattern of the black keys? If you look closely, you will notice that they follow a pattern of twos and threes. Two black keys followed by three black keys, followed by two black keys, followed by three black keys and so on.
The first note we shall find is the note, C. C is the note that comes right before the set of two black keys. There are quite a few C notes. Every note that comes before a set of two black keys is called C. Move eight steps up from one C and you get another C. This is called an octave.
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How do you find middle C on the 88 key piano? Simply sit at the center of your piano. The C which is below your chin is called middle C. Middle C is also the note halfway between the bass clef (left hand) and the treble clef (right hand).
Piano notes are named after the first seven letters of the alphabet. When learning to play the piano the first note that is normally learned is C. After you have found the note C, it is very easy to learn the other notes.
Let’s learn all the notes of the white keys on the 88 key piano. After you have found the note C, move to the next key. That note is called D. The one after it is called E. You just keep going in alphabetical order to F, and G. Then the next note is A. What we have done is go back to the start of the alphabet. Finally we move to B. You can continue going to C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G and so on. You get the point. C-D-E-F-G-A-B are called naturals.
How about the black keys? What are their names? They are named after the first seven letters of the alphabet as well except for the fact that they can be either sharp or flat. The black keys can be called accidentals. Simply put, sharp means to go higher or to move to the right on your keyboard. Flat means to go lower or to move to the left on your keyboard.
So what is the key immediately to the right of C called? The answer is C sharp (C#). This key can also be called D flat (Db) because it is one key to the left of D. The next black key is called D sharp (D#) or E flat (Eb). Then we move to F sharp (F#) or G flat (Gb), G sharp (G#) or A flat (Ab) and lastly A sharp (A#) or B flat (Bb). As is the case with the white piano notes, the pattern keeps repeating. After B flat (Bb), the next black key is C sharp (D flat), D sharp (E flat) and so on.
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What we’ve talked about above is really a simplified approach to looking at piano notes. In reality piano notes and piano keys are not the same. Each key of the piano can represent several notes. Strictly speaking piano keys don’t really have names. Keys aren’t actually called C, D, E, F, G, etc. They just play those notes. The same keys play other notes as well. This is important to understand especially when one is learning to read music.
The piano diagram below shows the various piano notes that piano keys usually correspond to.
Earlier, we saw that a piano key has more than one note name. For example D flat can be called C sharp. When keys go by more than one name, the notes are called enharmonic equivalents. So D flat and C sharp are enharmonic equivalents. The same can be said of D sharp and E flat. They are the same key on the piano keyboard but can have different note names depending on the key signature.
Even white keys have enharmonic equivalents. The note C can also be called B sharp (B#) since it is one half step higher than B. The note F can also be called E sharp (E#) since it is one half step higher than E. E can be called F flat (Fb) since it is one half step lower than F. Learn more about half steps, whole steps, tones, semitones, sharps and flats here.
Sometimes a piano note can be called a double flat or double sharp, or even a triple sharp or flat. For instance, D is two semitones lower than E and can be called E double flat (Ebb). But this is not as common.
Here’s a diagram of a piano keyboard, showing enharmonics.
Picture: Full 88 key piano keyboard diagram
On an 88 key piano, the lowest key (first note) is an A. There are 8 Cs. The last note is C. There are 52 white and 36 black keys. Here’s an image of piano notes on an 88 key piano. Click here for a picture of an 88 key piano keyboard layout.
Piano Notes Chart
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- Notes Chart for Piano
- Piano Keyboard Layout
- Piano Key Chart
- Difference between Notes and Keys on Piano
- The Whole Note
- The Half Note
- The Quarter Note
- The Eighth Note
- The Sixteenth Note
- The Whole Rest
- The Half Rest
- The Quarter Rest
- The Eighth Rest
- Dotted Notes
- The Sharp Sign
- The Natural Sign
- Music Note Names
- What is the difference between sharp and flat?