Keyboard - Intro

The piano is an indispensable tool for musicians and is particularly useful for visualizing theoretical concepts. I strongly encourage all of you to acquire as much keyboard facility as possible and to use this tool to help learn and reinforce the material presented in your theory classes.

The piano keyboard consists of white and black keys. Notice that the black keys are grouped in two's and three's and the white keys play the notes A-G. The most commonly used reference note is C which can be located just to the left of the group of two black keys.


The black keys play pitches halfway between the white keys on either side. Black keys to the right of a white key sound higher and those to the left, lower. The names of the black keys are derived from their neighboring white keys. Black keys to the right of a white key are raised in pitch and have an additional symbol called an accidental which, for raised notes, is a sharp. Black keys to the left of a white key are lowered in pitch and have a flat symbol for an accidental.

Black keys, therefore, actually have two possible names depending on whether you are raising or lowering the white key pitch. This is called enharmonic spelling.

What would the two names for the following notes be? (Roll your mouse pointer over the keyboard to see the answers.)


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