The world of music revolves around bringing together and sequencing specific audio vibrations that any type of instrument can produce. This can include vocals, percussion, woodwinds, strings, brass, and even non-traditional instruments like cooking pots and honking car horns produce these vibrations. However, to bring together, organize, and sequence these vibrations, one needs to have proper names for them. These audio vibrations are known as music notes. Read on to understand more about what musical notes are and what the names of the music notes signify.
What are Music Notes?
A musical note is a term used to refer to a pitch linked with a certain audio vibration. When you look at Western music, there are 12 musical notes. These include:
- C# / Db – Both notes produce the same pitch.
- D# / Eb – Both notes produce the same pitch.
- F# / Gb – Both notes produce the same pitch.
- G# / Ab – Both notes produce the same pitch.
- A# / Bb – Both notes produce the same pitch.
Each name of these 12 notes depends on what key you are in. For example, you can find the note C# in the A major scale. However, the same pitch can also be heard in the Bb minor scale, though in this case, it is known as Db.
These musical notes are further arranged in octaves. All the notes appear in one octave in order, and then the pattern is repeated in a new octave. If you take a standard 88 key piano, the lowest musical note is known as A0. This means that the note A appears in the zero octave. As you move up by one octave, you reach A1, meaning note A in the first octave. In a piano, the highest musical note is known as C8, meaning note C in the eighth octave.
As you can see from the names of the 12 musical notes above, the ‘slash’ notes (D#/Eb, C#/Db, etc.) represent the black keys on a piano. The names of these keys also vary depending on the key you are playing in.
Understanding the Different Types of Musical Notes
In music, there are certain pitches that come together to make the standard notes. The 12 notes, when used in a traditional manner, are known as the chromatic scale, in which there are seven main music notes, simply referred to as A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Each of these music notes stand for a different pitch or frequency. For example, the middle A note is known to have a frequency of 440 Hz, while the middle B note has a frequency of 494 Hz.
Each note is further varied depending on whether they are sharp or flat. A flat note is a one-half step-down, while a sharp note is a one-half step up. For example, a half step up from A would be known as the A sharp.
Music Notes Also Vary in Duration
Not only do music notes vary in frequency and pitch, but they also differ in duration. This comes into play when they are being written on sheet music. Notes of different lengths are also shown in different ways. When writing sheet music, it is divided into measures, with each measure comprising of four beats.
Some pointers you should be aware of if you want to learn about musical notes are as follows:
- A whole note refers to a single note comprising one full 4-beat measure.
- A half note refers to a single note that comprises only half of a 4-beat measure.
- A quarter note refers to a single note that is covering only one-quarter of a 4-beat measure.
- An eight-note is a term used to cover 1/8th of one 4-beat measure.
- And a 16th note comprises of 1/16th of one 4-beat measure.
In some cases, certain music can even be divided further into smaller subdivisions, such as 32nd notes and even 128th notes. Sometimes, you may find these in written sheet music, but these can be challenging to read even for the more learned musician.
Is it important to know how to read music?
It may surprise you to learn that some professional and well-known musicians and songwriters cannot read music. In fact, some jazz musicians don’t even read music. However, the number of such musicians and songwriters is few. Even if you cannot read the music off the sheet, it is important to know the various names of the music notes and where they are found on popular instruments. This will let you efficiently communicate and collaborate with other songwriters and musicians so that you are able to focus on what matters the most to you – composing and singing your songs.
If you are having trouble understanding about music notes and find yourself confused, well, you are not alone. These music notes can be tricky to understand and learn. But, with the correct help and guidance, you can soon master not only the 12 music notes, but also become an expert and sing like a pro by taking part in a masterclass offered by Unluclass. Unluclass offers an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn singing online straight from celebrity singer Monali Thakur.
Singing Classes with Monali Thakur
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