Look at image #1: The C-note appears to have no flat, because there is no black key directly to its left. But C does have a flat, it’s just disguised as B. Here’s why:
The musical scale on which the piano keyboard is based is called the diatonic scale. This scale has intervals of whole steps and half steps in a specific pattern. The pattern of the C major scale is as follows:
C –whole- D –whole- E –half- F –whole- G –whole- A –whole- B –half- C
As you can see, there are two half step intervals in a major scale. In C major, they fall between B-C, and E-F (see image #2). Since there is already a half step between these notes, adding a black key – which lowers a note by a half step – would be unnecessary.
Tip: The B note (along with B chords and key signatures) can also be written as C flat … its name simply depends on the key one is using. These notes are examples of enharmony.
Continue This Lesson:
◄ Back to Beginner Lesson Index | ► Locate the Middle C Key on the Piano
◄ Layout of the White Piano Keys | ► Notes of the Piano