Basic Notes in Music Theory

The Musicians Alphabet

Let’s explore the element of music theory notes. Music notes are the symbol used to convey several pieces of information to the musician.

Without music notes you would not be able to get every one on the same page when you wanted to play music with someone else.

This section touches on some overall basic information for  notes.

The Notes:

Note Set

The note symbol is used to convey the following information.

Music Theory Note Name:

There are 7 base note names, A – B – C – D – E – F – G.

Each of these can also be called a sharp (#) or a flat (b). Learn more at sharps and flats page.

These names are used over and over again and change tone in a mathematical relationship.

Learn about Notes Time Value and Pitch:

Here’s a sample of one octave of notes on a keyboard.



The pitch of a music note is a frequency of that note a tone generated in cycles per second or hertz – “Hz”. Different frequencies are defined for every note.

When notes sound the same but have higher or lower tone that is known as a pitch class. Therefore, you use the same name to define the note but you have a different frequency.

This is not an easy concept to explain in just a sentence or two, so for a complete definition of pitch go to wikipedia here: Pitch.

Symbols and Time Value:

Notes will have a time value associated with them. A quarter note, shown here. Quarther Noteis the value assigned or the beat count is dependent upon the time signature. If that time is a quarter note = 1 beat, then it is easy to see that it gets a time value of 1 beat.  The time values and names are more fully explored in our definitions section.

Notes on the Staff:

This section of our lessons focus only on names, we have to put these names on a staff so you can read notes when you play. That is done with the master staff lessons in the notes workshop


It is important to point out intervals for music notes. That is the relationship between two notes. Commonly these might be referred to as a third, a fifth, or eleventh. 

There are other rules that can be explored in detail in other lessons in our workshops associated with music theory notes.