In this Piano 101 post, we will explain the musical notation and pitch.
Learning music is actually a really fun undertaking, regardless the learner is a child or an adult. In reality, the piano is a friendly instrument to start with, especially learning the music fundamentals. Check out 7 Beginner Piano Tips to Get You Started.
At any rate, it is always best to have a piano or a keyboard to play with while you are learning the music fundamentals. Furthermore, you may read this Piano 101 in front of your keyboard and try to match the keys.
Table of Contents
Western music is written on a STAFF consisting of five lines and four spaces. The lines and spaces are numbered upwards as shown:
We use the letters of the alphabet to name the lines and spaces, and the musical alphabet has seven letters:
The Treble Clef
The second line of the treble clef is known as the G line, hence, it is also the G clef. The arrow points out the clef circle is around the G line. All other letter names are figured from the G line.
The names of the LINES in the Treble Clef are E, G, B, D, and F. For easy remembering, you may think of this sentence: Every Good Boy Does Fine.
The letter names of the SPACES in the Treble clef are F, A, C, and E.
They spell the word F-A-C-E.
The Bass Clef
This sign is the bass clef. As we can see, the fourth line of the bass clef is the “F” line. The two dots in the sign are placed on either side of the fourth line, hence the bass clef is also the F clef. We can find the other notes in relation to the F line.
The lines in the Bass Clef are G, B, D, F, and A. In addition, these letters may easily be remembered by the sentence: Good Boys Do Fine Always.
The letter names of the SPACES in the Bass Clef are A, C, E, and G.
And, to help remember the letters, you may use this sentence: All Cars Eat Gas.
Leger lines are short lines placed above and below the staff. Consequently, for notes above or below the five lines in the staff, leger lines are added. Here are a few examples:
When we combine both the treble and bass clefs with an added leger line for middle C, it is the Grand Staff. Additionally, the bracket and perpendicular line that joins the two or more different staves is a brace. The two staves are very typical for piano music sheets.
Staff Notation and Keyboard Position
On an 88-key keyboard of a piano, the middle C is the fourth C counting from the bass on the left. Besides, note C on the piano keyboard is always on the left of the group of two black keys.
The below diagram depicts the staff notation with the corresponding center four octaves on a piano keyboard.
There is also the term MEASURE when we refer to music in the staff because the staff is divided into measures by vertical lines called BARS. Thus a measure is the space between two bar lines.
In music, the pitch relates to the frequency of the sound. Therefore, the frequency determines the position of a single sound in the complete range of sound. A high frequency is considered a high pitch note, in contrast, a low frequency is a low pitch note.
Conventionally, in orchestral performances or a small ensemble, people use the A note (440Hz) above the middle C to facilitate the tuning of the group. Hence this particular A note of 440 Hz is the standard pitch.
To Wrap Up…
This Piano 101 is the first part of our Music Fundamentals series. Thus, we explained the written form of Western music, and how to read music in regards to the clefs and match the notes on a piano keyboard.
Moreover, you can practice recognizing the notes using some music apps. Especially if you are using a digital piano, it is even easier. Many digital pianos allow you to connect mobile apps and practice like playing a game, for instance, Roland RP102 and Yamaha P125.
Related: Music Fundamentals Series
- Piano 101 – Learning Piano Starts From Here
- What are the Tone Characteristics?
- Tempo and Rhythm – Are They Different?
- Piano Scales Explained
- Music Expression – The Marks on Musical Sheets
- Musical Intervals – An Important Part of Music Theory
- Transposition In Music – How Does it Work?
- Musical Chords – The Combination of Tones