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Lesson 3: Pitch Names

Lesson 3: Pitch Names

You learned how the low-to-high sequence of pitches is organized on the piano keyboard in Lesson 2: Pitch & Keyboard; now it's time to learn the pitches' names.

The white-key pitches are named after the 7 letters A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Let's start with letter A. Here's a section of keyboard with the A's labeled:

A A A

Here are some things you should understand about the keyboard above:

Several pitches share each letter-name. There are three A's in just this short section of keyboard; on a whole piano, there are eight A's.

Why do different pitches share a letter? There is a complex scientific answer, but a simple musical answer is that they sound like higher or lower versions of the same pitch. To understand this, you should hear it. Try this:
  1. Click the 3 A's above.
  2. Then click a few other keys (not the A's).
  3. Finally, click the 3 A's again.
  4. See if you can hear how the 3 A's sound like each other, in a way that the other pitches don't.

You can find any A (or any other letter) from its place in the pattern of black keys. Do this to find any A:
  1. Find one of the groups of three (not two) black keys.
  2. In those three black keys, the white key just to the right of the middle black key is an A.

Next, let's add the B's to the keyboard:

A B A B A B

Here are a couple of things to notice about this A-B keyboard:

There are two ways to find any B:
  1. Using the black keys. B is "just to the right of the 3 black keys".
  2. Using another letter (that you already know). For example, if you know where A is, then you can say "A, B" while you touch A, then B.

Hear how A's and B's sound different:
  1. Click the 3 A's above.
  2. Then, click the 3 B's.
  3. See if you can hear how the 3 A's sound like each other, but different from the B's; and the 3 B's sound like each other, but different from the A's.

Finally, here's our keyboard section with all the letters labeled:

C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C D E F G A B C

By looking at this keyboard, we can come up with a "black-key position rule" to find any letter:
  • A is "to the right of the middle black key".
  • B is "to the right of the 3 black keys".
  • C is "to the left of the 2 black keys".
  • D is "between the 2 black keys".
  • E is "to the right of the 2 black keys".
  • F is "to the left of the 3 black keys".
  • G is "to the left of the middle black key".

Study the pattern of letters and black keys above; then go on to Lesson 4: Letters Game and play the letters game until it's easy for you.


Contents

Lesson 1: Introduction
Lesson 2: Pitch & Keyboard
Lesson 3: Pitch Names
Lesson 4: Letters Game
Lesson 5: Sharps & Flats
Lesson 6: Half-Steps
Lesson 7: Whole-Steps
Lesson 8: Steps Game
Lesson 9: Scales
Lesson 10: Major Scale 1-2-3