Learn The Musical Alphabets
We all know children learn alphabets to learn read and write. Did you know that musical instruments also have alphabets to make them easy to learn? Yup, that’s true. Students first learn the musical alphabet before they learn to play the piano or other musical instruments.
The notes used in music are named with some letters and symbols which are known as THE MUSICAL ALPHABET. When you play music musical alphabets are needed because when you play music with other people they can describe the notes when talking about music.
12 Notes: The Building Blocks of Music
Music is all made up of notes. A note is just any pitch made by a musical instrument. There are 12 notes. Surely there are more than 12 keys on a piano but there are only 12 notes to be learned. These 12 notes keep repeating again and again in different octaves.
These 12 Notes are divided in 2 parts:
- Natural Notes
- Sharp Notes
In music every note has a letter name. We use the first seven letters of the alphabet (A – G) to name the notes. It goes like A, B, C, D, E, F and G. Notes named with alphabets are called natural notes. Natural notes are just the regular notes.
This is because when we play the notes in order, the note that we would call “H”, sounds like another “A”, so we just start the set over. Example:
A B C D E F G A
C D E F G A B C
We call these sets as OCTAVES. When you get to the next highest note with the same letter name, it will still be an “A” note, but its pitch will be in a higher octave. We will learn octaves deeply in my next blog
The other remaining 5 notes falls between these 7 notes (i.e. between A, B, C, D, E, F, and G).They are named in the form of sharp notes and flat notes. These sharp notes and flat notes indicates if a note is above or below to one of the natural notes.
These notes that are sharp notes and flat notes are denoted by some symbol.
A SHARP NOTE is denoted by symbol ♯. It looks like a pound or hash symbol. A Sharp note means to go up one note or one note higher in pitch than the natural it uses. For example, the note “A♯” (which is pronounced “A sharp”) is one note higher or above “A”.
A FLAT NOTE is denoted by symbol ♭. It looks like a lower case letter b. A Sharp note means to go down one note or one note lower in pitch than the natural it uses. For example, the note “A♭” (which is pronounced “A flat”) is one note lower or below “A”.
The image shows how the notes work on a piano keyboard. The blue notes that are shown in the image are natural notes, the red notes are sharp notes, and the orange notes are flat notes.
You can notice that some sharp notes and flat notes take same space on keyboard. That’s because they are actually the same note and just called by a different name depending on where we use them. These kinds of notes enharmonic. Means A♯ and B♭ are the same note, C♯ and D♭ are the same note, and so on.
The notes “Sharp” and “Flat” can also be verbs. When we use sharp note we raise its pitch by one note and identically when we use flat note we lower its pitch by one note.
Terms or Words used in the blogs with their meanings
Notes – a pitch produced by a musical instrument.
Octaves – a range of notes from one letter name up to the next highest (or down to the next lowest) pitches by the same letter name.
Natural Notes – Notes represented by the seven letters (i.e. A – G) of the music alphabet with no sharp or flat symbols.
Sharp Note – A note represented by any letter of the music alphabet with the sharp symbol (♯) added.
Flat note – A note represented by any letter of the music alphabet with the flat symbol (♭) added.
Enharmonic – two notes with the same pitch, only called by a different name. (A♭ and G♯)