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Learn the names of notes

Pitch is the highness or lowness of a sound. Pitches are indicated in written music by notes on a staff. The notehead, which is the small oval shape of the note, will occur either on a line on the staff, a space between two lines, or above or below the staff using ledger lines.

Examples of Noteheads:
Examples of noteheads

Pitches are named using the first seven letters of the alphabet: A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. The pitches can be altered by using accidentals. The three main accidentals are the flat sign, the sharp sign, and the natural sign. Each of those accidentals will change the pitch of a note by a half step. The flat sign lowers a pitch by a half step, the sharp sign raises a pitch by a half step, and the natural sign cancels out a sharp or flat sign.

The flat sign
The sharp sign
The natural sign

The name of each note is determined by where it lies on the staff and the the clef that is used. Follow the links below for a reference of the pitches above, below, and in the staff for the treble, bass, alto, and tenor clefs. The images show each clef, as well as the placement of the notehead representing the pitch Middle C.

Treble clef pitches
Treble clef middle C

Bass clef pitches
Bass clef middle C
Alto clef pitches
Alto clef middle C

Tenor clef pitches
Tenor clef middle C

A clarification of the terms note and pitch

The terms note and pitch are often used interchangeably, but they do not mean exactly the same thing. Pitch refers specifically to the highness or lowness of a sound, while note has a broader, more general meaning. The word note can be used to identify the pitch of a sound, but it also can refer to the length or duration of a sound. These lessons will use both of the terms pitch and note to indicate the highness or lowness of a sound. For more information on note values and the lengths of notes, visit




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