Naming the Five Black Notes

In this lesson we use our knowledge of SHARPS and FLATS to name the Five Black Notes on the keyboard.

Naming the Five Black Notes

Recall that the terms SHARP and FLAT relate to two notes that are a SEMITONE (half-step) apart:

  • The upper note is the SHARP of the lower note.
  • The Lower note is the FLAT of the upper note.

Notice that every one of the five black notes has both:

1) a white note a semitone BELOW it, and
2) a white note a semitone ABOVE it.

The result of this is that every one of the five black notes is BOTH:
1) the SHARP of the white note just below it,
2) and the FLAT of the white note just above it.

With your Left Hand in ‘HOME’ position on the five black notes, let’s determine the TWO names for the black note under your little finger. Since this black note is one semitone ABOVE the C note, we can name it ‘C SHARP’. And since this black note is also one semitone BELOW the D note, we can name also name it “D FLAT”.

Why do we need two names for each black note (C SHARP is the same note as D FLAT)? We’ll find out why when we learn about KEY SIGNATURES, but if you can’t wait: depending on what key signature is being played, either the SHARP terminology or
the FLAT terminology will be used. Just remember that “C SHARP” is the SAME
NOTE as “D FLAT”.

Let’s use the same procedure to name the other FOUR black notes, by noting the
white notes that are a semitone above and below the black note. When we do this, the five black notes have the following names, starting with the little finger and continuing up to the black note under your thumb:

C SHARP and D FLAT
D SHARP and E FLAT
F SHARP and G FLAT
G SHARP and A FLAT
A SHARP and B FLAT

Congratulate yourself because with some practice we will no longer need to refer to the black notes by which finger plays them. You will know that “F SHARP” is the black note one semitone above F. And that “B FLAT” is the black note one semitone below the note B. That is very exciting news.

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