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By Rhys Lett

Understanding Music Notes

Understanding music notes labels is essential when learning a music instrument. Our music system has twelve different sounds. Understanding music notes shows the way we label the sounds you are creating.

Our music system though is not as complicated as you might think. The key element of our music system is the names of the notes. Notes are our tools as musicians. The names allow us to describe what sounds need to be played. This explanation of notes is applicable to all instruments.

Understanding Music Notes

Notes are named after first seven letters that start the alphabet. So therefore we have notes named:

A    B    C    D    E    F    G

These names are simply a label. The label makes it easier to communicate between musicians as to which sound be played. This is all they stand for. The labelling system to help musicians communicate.

There are more than seven notes in our music system, there happens to be twelve note labels in total. We also have notes that are labelled as a sharp or as a flat. To show a sharp symbol we use a hash sign (#) and for a flat I will use a lower case B (b).

To find the sharp of a note you move the sound one higher. For example, on a guitar this would be moving one fret higher. On a piano you would move one key higher. In practice if you started on the note A and moved to the next fret of a guitar or key of a piano you would land at A#. For the sake of clarity I will simply use sharp notes in the remainder of this lesson when required.

You may have noticed that with seven letters available and the fact there are 12 note labels that the maths will not add up to every letter having a sharp. Two of the letters in music do not have a sharp. Those notes are B and E. Look at the piano keyboard below.

understanding music notes

There are no black keys between the notes E to F and B to C. This is because no sharp is place between those particular notes. The black notes are the sharps on a piano. So with 7 letter names and 5 sharp names we arrive at our 12 note music system. The 12 notes of music are:

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

These are the labels we use for the sounds created by instruments. These are the foundations of our music system. These are the tools that we create scales and chords with. See how fast you can memorise the order of the 12 note system of music. Through understanding music notes you will approach playing your instrument with more confidence. You will have better grasp of what you are playing at all times.

Understanding music notes is the starting point of your musical journey. It starts an introduction to music theory. Has this article helped? Let us know on our Facebook or Twitter pages, we would love to hear from you.

We have more of these practical insights to music available to you by coming in and seeing us at the Eastern Suburbs School of Music. Hope to see you for a lesson soon!