Black Keys on Piano : LUSENET : Everything About Teaching and Learning the Piano : One Thread

On a piano, there are black keys between f and g, a and b, etc. Why are there no black keys between b and c?

-- Thomas Jones (, January 06, 2005


I've been asking myself and my teacher the same question for years, but never quite got the answer. It's the way the harmonics go. If someone has a decent explanation please enlighten us!

-- Inbar (, January 06, 2005.

the distance (interval) between a key and the next (ex: c-dbemoll; g#-a) is ever a semitone; the white keys are abcdefg; e-f and b-c is a semitone, so why put a key (black) between?

-- pippo (, January 06, 2005.

naming the keys was totally arbitrary. they didn't have to put the black keys on the piano. all of the keys could have been the same and you could have named them a b c d e f g h i j k ...etc. but since the black keys are there and they're in between the whites, it seems logical to call it an A sharp in stead of A and a half. Well, if the black keys weren't there it would be called a B and the B would be C. Imagine trying to play the piano with no black keys.

-- obvious (, January 09, 2005.

is OBVIOUS... that you don't know the difference between a# and bflat and why they are actually two differents things. And the 7notes, NOT 12 notes, was introducted some centuries before the existence of the piano keyboard (or organ, clavicord, ecc.), so the keys names are not arbitrary, but DERIVES from natural notes abcdefg. Althougt, it's true that blak keys are useful for orientering in the keyboard.

-- pippo (, January 10, 2005.

so why put the black keys in the order in which they are in?

-- inbar (, January 11, 2005.

Hello, guys ...

I hope what I write down here would be helpful to resolve the original question ... why there are no black keys between b and c. I tried not to make it complicated but here's what I think. Music is both art and science. There's a mathematical formula involved in creating the tones. Let's do that from the very beginning, 'K. I made my own observation that when u take either a string or a bar of wood or metal (this is I think how ancient people created musical instruments), well, let's say the length here to make it less confusing. Ummm ... I know some of the readers are familiar in metric system and others use english system (inches, yards, etc) and I hope it's not gonna be matter. This time I'm gonna use metric system cuz it's alot easier to divide the increments rather than the english system, 'K. OK, here we go ... take the length of a wooden or metal bar about 1 meter (equal to 100 cm). This is would be our first C, 'OK. Take another bar with the same length and divide this bar exactly 1/2 of its length, discard the other half, it would be another C in an octave (in this case the length of this 2nd bar would be 50 cm). So far we've got our lower and upper Cs, right? Now, to create other pitches in between, the length of this third bar would have to be 1/2 of the 2nd bar plus the length of the 2nd bar (50 cm + 25 cm = 75 cm). Now we have 3 bars: 100 cm, 50 cm and 75 cm. I think, if we put this third bar (75 cm)in the middle between the 100 cm and 50 cm that would be our G. So, now we have: lower C=100 cm, G=75 cm, and upper C=50 cm. So, I guess having only 3 notes are not very satisfying to the ears and more bars were created in between this lower and upper Cs based on that mathematical formula and, of course, some trials and errors which finally brought up to 12 semitone in between 2 Cs what we have now in modern music. And again, I guess, to make another 'octave' we need to divide a 50 cm bar (in this case would be 25 cm) and this would be the 3rd C and the bars in between were created using the formulas we've mentioned above. Now we get to the 'black keys'. Keyboard instruements (pianos, harpsicords, organs, and umm, I can't mention any others ... teehee)are the only ones that use 'black keys' to help create scales. Let's take example a guitar ... the one I have has 23 frets and guess what, 23 frets + 1 open string = 24 and that means 2 octaves, right? I assume that our ancient people tried to lay all these 12 semitones side by side and found out that this didn't sound as pleasing as if it was skipped. Well, again, take example the guitar ... if you take a guitar and play from open string all the way to the other end of the neck by pressing every fret that wouldn't sound very pleasing, would it? So, in order to create a better 'voicing' some of the semitones need to be skipped. Again, the trial I assume was to use all the whole notes/intervals and then mixing some whole notes and 1/2 notes in one scale until it's created the MAJOR scale that we listen nowdays, which is intervally 1 - 1 - 1/2 - 1 - 1 - 1 - 1/2. In order to create that scale, the semitones in the keyboard need to be 'excluded' instead of to lay it side by side or in this case they're raised and colored black. That's why there are no black keys in between E & F and B & C for the purpose of scale. As a matter of fact, u r welcome to create your own keyboard the way you please to satisfy your curiousity, well, or use a guitar to do that. I think a guitar is still the best example to do this cuz again, in the guitar it uses semitone rather than the order used in keyboard instruments. I hope this would help to resolve the curiousity of why there's no black keys in between E & F and B & C.


-- No name (, February 04, 2005.

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