Piano notes are the basis of all music notation for the piano. They are no different than any music notes, but of course are for the piano. They define two things:
- Pitch of a tone
- Duration of a tone
On the piano notes are arranged from A to G:
C D E
The 7 letter names then repeat up the piano keyboard 7 times in a normal piano keyboard for a total of 88 notes, though many electronic keyboards have less notes -- some as few as 64.
It's really more accurate to refer to the notes on the piano as "piano keys": "piano notes" is usually the term reserved for the musical notation on a piece of sheet music.
Here are the 7 letters of the alphabet as they appear on a piano keyboard:
The black keys between the 7 white keys are the sharps and flats. All of the black keys are used two ways: as sharps and as flats. For example, the black key between C and D is known as both C# and Db. The black key between F and G is known as both F# and Gb.
Notes are arranged in ascending and descending patterns known as scales. The word scale comes from the Latin word "la scala", which means ladder. So a scale is a ladder of notes that climbs from one A to the next A, or one B to the next B, or one C to the next C, and so on. The distance between any two "C's" is known as an octave -- from the Latin word "octavo" (octopus, octagon, etc.).
Major scales, the most-used type of scale at least in the western world, follows a pattern of:
Whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step
Here is a picture of the C scale on the piano keyboard:
Because of this rule of whole and half step, every scale except the C scale has one or more black keys in it.
Here is the B scale:
Here is the F# scale:
In some listings of scales you will notice that there are no sharp scales listed. This is simply because D flat and C sharp are really the same key – just written differently. The same is true of E flat and D sharp, G flat and F sharp, A flat and G sharp, and B flat and A sharp. These are known as enharmonic scales – the sound is identical, but one scale is written as a flat scale while the other is written as a sharp scale.
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