What Is A Music Note?

This simple guide will answer what is a music note, provide examples of the different musical notes, and explain how to read notes in music.

What Is A Music Note?

What this post covers:

What is a Music Note
What is a Music Note

What is a Music Note?

Just like we use the alphabet in our English language, music notes can be thought of as the alphabet of a musical language.

In Western Music, there are only 12 notes. Musical notes are named after the first 7 letters of the English Alphabet: A, B, C, D, E, F, G

What is a Music Note?

You can think of the piano keys to better understand the notes. There are 7 notes that correspond to those 7 letters of the English alphabet from A to G.

There are also 5 notes that lie between them, and they are:

  • A# or Bb
  • C# or Db
  • D# or Eb
  • F# or Gb
  • G# or Ab

Here the ‘#’ represents the sharps that indicate that a note is raised. Whereas the ‘b’ symbol represents the flats that indicate that a note is lowered.

Please note that in this system, especially while considering the piano, the sharpness of one note is harmonically identical to the flat of the note above it. This means that A# is the same tone as Bb, C# is the same tone as Db, etc.

It is also important to consider that there are no sharps or flats between B and C or between E and F.

Music notes that don’t have any sharps or flats, which mean all the white keys on the piano keyboard, are called Natural notes. The black keys on the piano keyboard are either the notes with sharp or flats.

The distance between any two notes that are next to each other is called a half step. Each half step is at the same distance. For example, the distance between E and F is the same as the distance between Bb and B.

On the other hand, the distance between two half steps, for example, the distance between the C and D is nothing but what we call the whole step.

Related: What Is A Music Staff?

What Are Some Musical Note Examples?

Here are some examples of musical notes:

  • Whole Note
  • Half Note
  • Quarter Note
  • Sixteenth Note

Related: What is a Meter in Music

What Are The 12 Musical Notes?

The 12 Musical Notes in Music

The 12 music notes in western music:

  1. A
  2. A# or Bb
  3. B
  4. C
  5. C# or Db
  6. D
  7. D# or Eb
  8. E
  9. F
  10. F# or Gb
  11. G
  12. G# or Ab

How Many Types Of Notes Are There?

Musical notes can vary in duration, and when they are written on the sheet music, the notes of different lengths are represented in different ways.

In Western music sheets, usually, the music sheet gets divided into measures. Each of these measures generally contains four beats.

Music Theory For Beginners – Different Types of Notes

Here are some of the types of notes in music:

  • Whole Note
  • Half Note
  • Quarter Note
  • Eighth Note
  • Sixteenth Note
  • Thirty Second Note
  • Sixty Fourth Note
  • Double Whole Note

How Are Notes Defined?

Notes are symbols that denote musical sounds, and they are the building blocks of written music.

How Do You Read Notes?

In order to read notes, it is important to have a complete basic understanding of the musical staff and other related things.

Staffs are the foundation of written musical language, and it is made up of five lines and four spaces.

How to Read Notes ( Beginner Piano Lesson ) – Source

We number the lines from 1-5, starting from the bottom line. On the other hand, we number the spaces from 1-4, starting from the bottom space.

When notes are written on the staff, they are either written on the lines or on the spaces between them.

Now there should be some way to relate the musical alphabets to the lines and spaces on the staff so that we can know which note corresponds to each line or space.

This is achieved by using a clef, which is a symbol placed at the beginning of a staff.

Each line and space in the musical staff corresponds to a musical pitch that is determined by the clef.

There are usually two clefs:

  • Treble Clef
  • Bass Clef

The treble clef is also called ‘G-clef’. On the piano, it is used to represent the notes in the upper portion of the piano keyboard.

  • The music note names on the spaces of the treble clef: F-A-C-E
  • The music note names on the lines of the treble clef: E-G-B-D-F

The F-A-C-E is easy to remember. You can just remember it as “FACE”.

But to remember the E-G-B-D-F, you can remember it using this mnemonic: “Every Good Boy Does Fine”.

Now the bass clef, in the case of piano music, is used to denote the lower portion of the piano keyboard.

  • The note names on the spaces of bass clef: A-C-E-G
  • The note names on the lines of bass clef: G-B-D-F-A

The A-C-E-G can be remembered with the mnemonic: “All Cow Eat Grass”.

On the other hand, to remember G-B-D-F-A can be remembered using the mnemonic “Good Boys Do Fine Always”.

There is also a concept of ledger lines that are nothing but the lines used to notate the pitches above or below the regular lines and spaces of the staff.

For example, the ‘Middle C’ is located on a ledger line between the treble clef and the bass clef staff.

What Does Every Music Note Mean?

When musicians play the music, they have to know how long they have to play each sound. The composers of the music tell them about these using the different note symbols.

For example, if there’s a whole note (whose symbol is like a small oval-shaped zero), then it means that it will last for four counts.

Similarly, if there’s a half note, then it means that it will last for 2 counts.

Whole Note4 Beat
Half Note2 Beats
Quarter Note1 Beat
Eighth Note1/2 Beat
Sixteenth Note1/4 Beat

Summary of Music Notes

Music notes are symbolic representations of musical sounds. Music notes are like the alphabet of the musical language. All music is built on them, and they can be used to represent the pitch and duration of a sound in musical notation.

We hope you found this information on music notes helpful.

If we missed anything, please share it in the comments.

Mark V.

Written By Mark V.
Hip Hop Makers is a music production website launched in 2008 to teach music lovers how to make music, sell beats, and make money from music.

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