The very basics of music theory
This is for those who are new to theory. If you have some experience, check out our more advanced lessons.
First of all, let’s talk about the musical alphabet. There are 12 notes overall:
A – A#/B♭- B – C – C#/D♭- D – D#/E♭- E – F – F#/G♭- G – G#/A♭
# – is the sign for a sharp note. A sharp note is 1 semi tone higher then the original note. If you were to look at a keyboard, you would hit the black key to the right of the whole tone. If you were to look at a guitar, you would move 1 fret to the right from the whole tone.
♭- is the symbol for flat. A flat is 1 semi tone lower then your whole tone. If you were to play this on a keyboard, you would hit the black key to the left of your whole tone. If you were to play this on a guitar, it would be 1 fret to the left of your whole tone.
A whole tone is the white keys on your keyboard; A – B – C – D – E – F – G. There are 7 whole tones in the western musical alphabet and 5 #/♭ notes to make a total of 12 notes. Remember there is no B#/C♭or E#/F♭
Once you have passed your 12 notes, you will reach the next octave. An octave is the same tone but played in either a higher or lower register.
The distance between the notes can be explained in several ways. One way would be in tone and semi-tones (also named half step and whole step). A semi tones distance is 1 note; A – A# or D- D♭. A tones distance is 2 notes; B – C# or A- G.
Next we are going to talk about keys. Now to play in A key we need to work out what makes a key. Essentially it’s how many #/♭ are played. For more information on working out your key, check out our page on the circle of fifths.

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