Piano Basics

Get Familiar With The Piano Keyboard

Meet your piano keyboard

Piano keyboard

A full piano keyboard has 88 keys. From the highest note to the highest the piano has the largest dynamic range as compared to any other music instrument. One of the first things that you will realise about a piano keyboard is that the keys are weightier and feel heavier than most keyboards on the digital counterparts. The keys on a piano keyboard used to be made from ivory, wood etc. Even now the responsiveness of a real piano keyboard is very different from a digital piano. However, this is something that digital piano companies are working aggressively on. And you have digitally weighted keys and touch sensitivity control on digital piano keyboards as well.

Black and White Key Arrangement
The second thing that you will notice about the piano keyboard is the arrangement of the black and white keys. This arrangement if all important in breaking down the keyboard in to parts and different octaves. You can find the right notes and keys with ease in reference to the arrangement of the black and the white keys. For example, the C note is always the white key just below any group of 2 black keys. Note E is the white key immediately after and under the same group and so on.

Black and white key arrangement

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Note c on the keyboard

Piano Keyboards can be of different sizes
There are different sizes of keyboard available. Not all pianos or digital keyboards may be 88 keys long. In fact the digital pianos that people use at home are often smaller. The size of the piano keyboard is also called its range since lesser number of keys means that the lowest and highest note possible depends of on how many keys there are.
The keys lower on the keyboard, on the left side player lower notes that get progressively higher as you move up the keyboard.
The black keys on the keyboard are arranged in groups of 2 and 3. This pattern is repeated all thought the keyboard and divides the keyboard in to Octaves.

Keyboard is Divided Into Octaves

Octaves is the next thing that you need to know about your piano keyboard.
There are 12 notes that repeat themselves over and over again all throughout the length of the keyboard. If you were thinking that 88 keys meant 88 different notes, you were mistaken. Actually there are only 7 notes, but when you count their # sharps and b flats, there are 12 in all.
What this means is that you take any key on the keyboard count 12 keys up or down the keyboard and play the same key, you are essentially playing the same note, just in a lower or higher octave.
To make this clearer, let us take the example of the the note C. C note can be found right under the group a 2 black keys. If you press the white key right before this group, you are playing the note C. Not shift your gaze higher up the keyboard and spot the next group of 2 black keys. Once again, play the white note right before this group. You will realise the tonal similarity between the 2. Thats because you are playing the same note. Now try playing the 2 keys together. Try it one finger of both hands, then try to play it with one hand. Put your thumb on the C note with your right hand and with your pinkie play the next higher C note. You are now playing a piano octave.
It should be mentioned here that many times the left hand accompaniments are played this way. The pianists plays the root note of a chord and plays the next higher octave with the 5th finger.

Piano notes octaves

What are Piano Steps
The distance between one note and the piano key next to it is defined as half step. When you are told to move a note half a step up or below, you are being told to shift one key left or right of the note.
The half step is the smallest distance possible between 2 notes. Meaning to say that there are no notes in between.
2 half steps make a full step. So when you are playing a key 2 notes up or below you have covered a full step on the piano keyboard.

What are Piano Intervals
Piano intervals are defined as the distance between 2 keys on the piano. They are denoted in numbers such as thirds, sevenths, ninths etc. The interval depends on the number of keys in between 2 notes being played. Play any 2 keys on the keyboard and you are playing an interval. You will learn and understand more of these with ease with you start to learn piano chords.

Well these are the basics of the piano keyboard. The white keys and the black keys are all the same even though they might look different. Their function is to play different piano notes. All the full notes eg. A B C D E F G lie on the white keys and the sharps and the flats I.e. A# Bb C# etc lie on the black ones.