Names of Black Keys

Welcome! In this section we are going to take a look at the black keys! This part is a little tricky that is why I want to make sure you did your part on learning the white keys on your keyboard first. If you haven't done so, follow the link Get to Know Your White Keys.
Now that you know the white keys, we are ready to learn about the black keys! I call these keys the sharp and flat keys or notes. Sharp (#) means higher in pitch by half step or semitone. Flat (b) is the other way around, lower in pitch by half step. To simplify things, lets take a look at the keyboard below. A sharp note is the next key to the right of a natural note (white key). Basic formula that I use; Sharp = left to right. As an example, let's take A and move to the right we find the next key is A#. This concept is applicable on all the keys on your keyboard.

Sharps on the Piano

The fastest way to explain Flats is right to left. This is just a reverse of Sharps. Let us take A again but now we move from right to left. The next key you will find is Ab.

Flats on the Piano

Now you know your Sharps and Flats! Before we wrap this topic up let's answer some questions which I believe will help us understand our keys a little better.

[Question] Does this mean that all the black keys have two names?
[Answer] Yes. e.g. C# and Db is the same key on your keyboard (same sound)

[Question] The B,C and E,F keys does not have black keys between them, do we still have B#,Cb,E#, and Fb?
[Answer] Yes. Applying the concept above, B# is the same as C. Cb is B, E# is F, and Fb is E. Although on sheet musics, most composers plainly write them down using the natural names.

[Question] Is it possible to have double sharp notes like C## and what exact note should I play on the keyboard?
[Answer] Yes. Some music are written with double Sharps/Flats. Just move two keys to the right for Sharps and two keys to the left for Flats. C## is the D note on your keyboard.

At this point I would recommend you to go back to your keyboard and start getting familiar with the black keys on your keyboard. The more familiar you are with your keyboard the better! After reading through this article, you should be able to do the following:

  • Name all the black keys on your keyboard (both Sharps and Flats)
  • Explain the basic concept of Sharps
  • Explain the basic concept of Flats

We'll get into some music theory in our next lesson "Understanding half steps and whole steps"

If you have some questions, you can leave your comments below and I'll do my best to answer them :)