|"Key to Key" is an exercise that includes every possible major scale starting on
every black and white keys on a musical keyboard or piano. Notice how they all
have the same do, re me, fa so, la, ti, do melody of a major scale. Every one
uses different notes but what remains constant is the musical space between
the notes. Every new scales begins on the fifth note of the previous scale. It's
called a circle of fifths. It starts on c, goes through every available note and
finally gets back to c. So that we don't run out of keyboard, we have to keep
dropping back an octave. Study this lesson and others that follow to learn
more. This example will play once. Click on the play button of the player below
to hear it again.
Using The Lessons
Sharps And Flats
Look at the four octave keyboard above. You see that in each octave of c there are five
black keys. That tells you that in addition to your seven natural notes there are five other
notes. That gives a total of 12 different notes. That's all there are. All the music there is
and all the music that will ever be has to use these 12 notes. Of course few songs if any
would use all 12. Many songs make do with only five.The black key notes take their name
from the notes they are next to. They are called the sharp of the white key note below
and the flat of the white key note above .So each black key note has two names. When
do you call it a sharp and when do you call it a flat That will be come clear in a lesson or
two. Sharps and flats have musical notation symbols. I show them below. I am also
showing the symbol for a natural which is used in writing music to make a sharp or flat
note a natural note. We don't need it yet but since it's used with the other two I'm
introducing it here.
Your first musical notation
symbols. A sharp raises and
a flat lowers the note. A
natural erases a sharp or flat.
Sharps, Flats And Keys
When we talk about keys in music theory, we are not talking about the keys of a piano or
musical keyboard. We are talking about the series of notes that make up a major or
minor scale. The terms major or minor refer to a type of scale. You can play a major or
minor scale starting on any note and it will have the melody of that type of scale. A major
scale will always have the familiar do, re, me, fa, so, la, ti, do melody no matter what note
you start on. Play the free midi at the beginning of this lesson to hear this principle in
action. But each different note that you start on will require different sharps or flats.
These will be required to keep all the spaces between the notes the same. The major
scale has just seven notes so every sharp or flat will replace a natural note. Remember,
Sounds in music depend on the spaces between tones not the tones
themselves. These scales will be in different keys. Because these sharps or flats apply
to the whole song, they are place in the key signature. I have put some example key
signatures below. Don't try to understand them completely yet. We will explain more later
but here are some basics. The symbol at the beginning tells us that we are in the treble
clef. This is the clef where melody is written. The numbers are the time signature. It's like
a fraction. The top number tells you how many beats there are to a measure and the
bottom number tells you what note gets one beat. In between the treble clef symbol and
the time signature is where you find the sharps or flats that tell you what the key is.The
first one is for the key of C that has no sharps or flats. The second one is for the key of
G that has one sharp. The sharp is on the f line of the staff because the key of G has an
f sharp. The third one is for the key of F that has one flat. The flat is on the b line of the
staff because the key of F has a b flat. When a sharp or flat symbol is found there, it
applies to every note of that name in the song, not just to the line it's on.
Many songs use only notes that belong to the major key. That is the do, re me fa so etc.
But some songs use notes that don't belong to the key. These sharps, flats and naturals
are in the body of the song, not in the key signature. Naturals are used in two ways.
They can return a sharp or flat accidental back to it's natural value. Or they can be used
to make a sharp or flat in the key signature natural. If you make a sharp or flat that
belongs to the key signature natural, that is an accidental and it need a sharp or flat to
return it to it's correct key value. Blues is a musical form that has a lot of accidentals. In
the blues a lot of notes alternate between being flatted and returning to their normal key
value. This is another topic that you don't have to understand completely. We will explain
©2004 - 2008
Below is a keyboard showing one octave of c with the black key notes labeled with their
sharp/flat name. You can see why I needed the symbols. The words wouldn't have fit.
Also notice that in two spots the white keys are together with no black key in between
The smallest step or distance between the notes in music is a half step. The white key
notes e to f and b to c are a half step apart and so have no room for a sharp/flat note in
between. All the other white key notes are a whole step apart and have room for a
sharp/flat in between. It is only one note but is called a sharp if it refers to the note below
it and a flat if it refers to the note above it. In this lesson and the next, you will learn the
most important thing you will ever learn about music. Sounds in music depend on the
spaces between tones not the tones themselves. I know I've said this before but I
will be repeating it many times in these lessons.
People that come to these pages through search engines enter on different pages. I
page at least once. This is a totally new approach to learning music. The focus is on """.
That page that you miss could be the one that contains the key ". That page that you
miss could be the one that contains the key How Music How Music information, that
you need. These pages are full of music tips and music info that you probably won't find
Sharps And Flats On Keyboards
The picture to the right gives you the
numbers for the fingers of each hand. As
you can see, you start with the thumb as
finger number 1 and then you continue
consecutively from there until you get to
the pinkie as finger number 5.
Key of C Fingering
The keyboard picture to the right shows
an octave of c with the fingering for the
right hand. You are playing eight notes
with five fingers so you have to change
position. It's our human opposing thumb
that makes playing up and down a
keyboard with speed and skill possible.
See why as described in the next
Numbering The Fingers
the right hand. First we go up the scale. Starting with the thumb or 1, It's fingers 1, 2, 3
for do, re, me or c, d, e. The thumb or 1 then swings under the fingers to play fa or f.
Then the fingers 2, 3, 4, 5 can complete the scale so, la, ti, do or g, a, b, c. Now to go
back down the scale, we reverse the process. Do, ti, la, so, fa or c, b, a, g, f with fingers
5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Then we swing the finger 3 over the thumb to me or e and finish re, do or d,
to activate it and then on the play arrow. .Then play it on your keyboard. This of course
to activate it and then on the play arrow. .Then play it on your keyboard. This of course
is first part of the same fingering we learned in the third free music lesson , "Natural
Playing The Major Scale In Three Keys
Playing the exercise "Key To Key" at the would be difficult for a beginner. The common
sharp keys begin on natural letters or white keyboard keys. They are easy. They all have
the same fingering. Only one flat key, the key of F begins on a natural letter, white
keyboard key. All the others start with a flat note and so a black keyboard key. Each flat
key has a different fingering. In this lesson, we will just study going up and down one
octave of three major keys, C, G and F. I've given you the picture showing how the
fingers are numbered below again for reference.
The same fingering that is used to
play a C scale is used to play a G
scale. Starting with our thumb on g
instead of c, we get our major scale
melody. Notice that we have to play
the black f sharp key instead of the
white f key on our music keyboard.
This gives us our familiar major
scale melody do, re, me fa, so la ti,
do. Click on the player below to
activate it and then click on the
play button to hear the G scale.
Play it on your keyboard.
thumb on a short black key, the F
scale cannot use the same fingering
as our other scales that start on
natural tones. Starting with our thumb
on f, we get our major scale melody,
Because we don't want to use our if
we play the black b flat key instead of
the white b key on our music
keyboard. Click on the player below
to activate it and then on the play
button to hear the familiar do, re, me,
fa, so, la, ti, do in the key of F. Now
play it on your keyboard.
Fingering F Major
The fingering for the F major scale is different. If we tried to finger it like C or G, we
would be trying to swing the thumb over to the short black key to play our b flat. Instead,
we play the black key with our longer fourth finger. Then we sing our thumb over to c
while holding b flat and then play our d.e.f with fingers 2,3,4. Going down the scale
reverse the process. Make sure when your thumb reaches c that you swing the finger 4
over to b flat to finish the scale. So even for our first flat key F we need different
fingering. Each flat key will require different fingering
How Music Works
The first five free music lessons in this series of free music lessons teaches you how
music works. "Sharps And Flats" is the fourth free music lessons in this series. It along
with "Music Is Easy", "Schools Of Music", "Natural Music Tones" and "Musics Great
Secret" should be studied as a group. These first five free music lessons reveal musics
great secret that is the key to understanding music. I use the piano keyboard with many
exercises that you can play to help you learn these vital music principles. You will not
need to know how to read music for these lessons. You will learn scales and chords in
different keys. You learn to play songs in different keys. Once you understand how music
works , you will find that playing a song in different keys is not many things. It is basically
one thing. Understanding music greatly simplifies music. Use the links here or in the
navigation bars to the left to go to the other lessons. There will be links to get back here.
Sharps And Flats On The Guitar
It's easy to separate the sharps and flats from the natural notes on a keyboard. The
white keys are the natural notes and the black notes are the sharps and flats. If you
look inside the piano, you just see strings, The piano keys active felt covered hammers
that strike the strings producing the notes. Look inside an electronic keyboard and all
you see are electronics. You cant even distinguish the tone generators that produce
the notes. Different interfaces could be designed to access these notes. Through
hundreds of years, the keyboard with it's white and black keys that are so familiar has
become the standard interface. On the guitar there is nothing visual that can tell you
which notes are natural and which notes are sharps and flats. When you suspend a
string between two points like the nut and bridge of a guitar and select how long that
string should be, then the position of frets that select the notes are dictated by physics.
That is why the frets get closer together as you go up the guitar neck. They are where
the mathematical formula dictates they should be not where you would like to put them.
You are playing the notes directly. There is no interface. When you press a string
against a fret, you are suspending that string between that fret and the bridge and
changing it's length. Each fret as you go up the guitar neck shortens the string by one
more half step and makes a note one more half step higher. The smallest step in music
is a half step. The natural notes b to c and e to f are a half step apart. There is no
room for another note in between them. All the other natural notes are a whole step
apart. There is room for one note in between them. That note is the sharp of the note
below it and the flat of the note above it. This is all you need to know to find any note
on the guitar or any other fretted instrument. Different fretted instruments have
different open string tunings. The open strings of the guitar can be tuned differently for
alternate tunings. The fret diagram below shows the location of the notes for standard
guitar tuning for the first five frets. When you understand why they are where they are
then you will be able to figure out the location of the notes for any tuning. See the
discussion below the fret diagram for a detailed explanation of how to figure out the
Look at the fret diagram of the guitar above. This is a picture of the guitar rotated up
from it's playing position so that it is facing you. This puts the 1st, highest thinnest string
on top and the lowest thickest 6th string on the bottom. The rectangle on the left
represents the nut and to the left of that, we have the open strings numbered and
labeled with the notes for standard guitar tuning. The rest of the notes fall where they do
based on the spaces between them. For alternate tunings of the guitar, they would of
course be in different places.
Look at the open e 6th string. The very next place, one half step higher,for a note is
the first fret. So this has to be f one half step higher than e. The g is a whole step from f
so we have to skip up to the 3rd fret but note that on the 2nd fret in between, we have
the f sharp/g flat note. Remember that our musical alphabet of natural tones is a to g and
then we start all over again with a. It is a whole step from g to a, so we skip up to the 5th
fret. The note on in between on the 4th fret is g sharp/a flat. Strings on the guitar are
tuned only a few notes apart. The a on the 5th fret of the e string is the same as the next
open string, the 5th or a string.
Look at the open a 5th string. The notes a and b are a whole step apart, so b is on
the 2nd fret. The first fret is the in between note, a sharp/b flat. As b and c are one half
step apart, c is in the very next fret the third fret. The c and d are a whole step apart so d
skips up to the 5th fret. In between on the 4th fret, we have c sharp/d flat. This d is the
same as the next open string, the 4th or d string.
Look at the open d 4th string. The notes d and e are a whole step apart so e skips up
to the second fret. The first fret is the in between note, d sharp/e flat. As e to f are one
half step apart, f is the very next fret the 3rd fret. The f and g are a whole step apart so g
skips up to the 5th fret. In between on the 4th fret we have f sharp/g flat. This g is the
same as the next open string, the 3rd or g string.
Look at the open g 3rd string. The notes g and a are a whole step apart so a skips up
to the 2nd fret. The first fret is the in between note g sharp/a flat. The a to b are a whole
step apart so b skips up to the 4th fret. In between on the 3rd fret, we have a sharp/b
flat. This b is the same as the next open string, the second or b string.
Look at the open b 2nd string. The notes b and c are a half step apart so c is on the
first fret. The notes c and d are a whole step apart so d skips up to the 3rd fret. The in
between note c sharp/d flat is on the 2nd fret. The notes d to e are a whole step apart so
e skips up to the 5th fret. The in between note d sharp/e flat is on the 4th fret. The e is
the same as the next open string, the e or 1st string.
Look at the open e 1st string. This e string is two octaves higher than the low e 6th
string. But an e string is an e string and the notes fall on the same frets. But there is no
string in front of it so starting with a, the notes go higher and higher as you go up the
string. With the other strings, as you go past the note that is the same as the next open
string, you are only repeating notes that are on the higher strings. These duplicate notes
are used by advanced guitar players as they play up the neck of the guitar, but the 1st e
string is the only string that gets into higher notes not found on any other string.
Natural, Sharp And Flat Guitar Notes In First Position
Musics Great Secret
In the next free lesson, we complete our basic study of how music works. We also learn
how to play left hand chords on the piano or keyboard to back up our singing or right
hand melody. I've shown you the how to find the notes on the guitar based on the how
music works principles. But to learn to play guitar, you need to go to the many guitar
lessons through the links in the navigation bar on the left.