Here you can print out a free piano keyboard diagram and learn all about the naming of the notes on the piano keys. This is a useful tool when you are first starting to learn to play the piano, so you will not feel lost among all the piano keys!
Did you know that:
Smaller keyboards with fewer keys may be used for playing chords, background harmonies or other sounds for example.
Here is a free printable piano keyboard diagram (click to open a printable PDF in a new window):
In music of the western tradition, there are 12 different notes:
On the piano keyboard this can be easily seen in the pattern of the white and black keys. So the piano keyboard actually has only 12 different keys; 7 white keys and 5 black keys. The rest of the keys are just repeated with either higher or lower pitch.
Here is a piano keyboard diagram with the note names of the white keys, or the basic notes:
You can see that the 7 basic notes are repeated over and over. But each time the pitch (how high or low the tone is) is sounding one octave higher (if you go to the right). An octave is the distance, or interval, from one note or tone to the next with the same name, higher or lower. You can also see that all keys have a black key between them except between E - F and B - C.
All steps (the interval from one key to the next) that have a black key between them, are called whole steps. Those that don’t, E-F and B-C, are smaller and called semitones or half steps. There are also half steps between a black and the white key next to it, or reversed. And there are whole steps from one black key to the next with a white key between.
See how the black keys are grouped in two’s and three’s, all over the keyboard. This repeated pattern also makes it easier to find our way on the piano:
The black keys make it possible to play many more scales and melodies. They fill in the “gap” where there are whole steps, so to speak! By playing all the keys one by one, both the white and the black keys, you can play a chromatic scale. A chromatic scale is made from only half steps.
The black keys are named after the white; they are alterations of the white keys. The black keys have two names. The name depends on from what white key it started from.
So how do you alter a white key? Easy, just use one of two music symbols; the sharp (#) and the flat (b). These symbols, together with the natural sign are called accidentals (nope- no accident!). You will only see accidentals written in the sheet music. If you just talk about a black key without reading any sheet music, it is OK to use any of the two names.
Let’s say you read the note C. If there is a sharp sign (#) in front of C you get to play the black key a half step higher (to the right) - Yay!
In the same way you can use the flat sign (b) to lower a note. Starting from D this time, and having a flat sign in front of that D, you play the black key a half step lower (to the left).
-Whoa, stop there! Db is the same key as C#???
Yes it is! The keys can have two names, depending on the accidentals. If they end up on the same key like this, they are called enharmonic (“one sounded”).
You can use sharp and flat signs on any note. So even an E can have a sharp sign… and where does it go? To F!
Since there is already only a half step between E and F - and a sharp sign raises the note a half step - there is only F, so E# and F are also enharmonic.
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