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Why 12 Notes

The standard scale or Chromatic scale is made up of 12 notes or tones - each note unique. These notes are the basis for every chord and melody in most Western music.  To explain why we have 12 notes could take pages and pages and end in bitter arguments.  Perhaps it has something to do with our brain's psychoacoustical response, with a bit of math thrown in for good measure - but it's not really exactly clear why there are twelve notes.  Some of the many explanations of why we have 12 notes include:

 

It's always a possibility that there may be no mathematical explanation why there are 12 notes. In the same way that science can't explain what it 'feels' like to see the color 'red', perhaps the notes of the scale are beyond mathematics, and reach into the qualia/metaphysical/spiritual realm (if it exists).

 

The 12-note scale could just be an arbitrary cultural construct, with no special reason to choose 12 above 5 or 50 note scales. This goes against common sense and a lot of scientific evidence, but one can't rule out the possibility.

 

These 12 notes are called the Chromatic Scale.  Here are the 12 notes:

 
Count
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
Name
A
A#
B
C
C#
D
D#
E
F
F#
G
G#

 

Note that all Sharps can be referred to as the next Note’s Flat

 

A# = Bb,  C# = Db,  D# = Eb, F# = Gb, G# =Ab

 

Try not to get hung up on the whys of the names of notes, just think of A# and Bb as two names that refer to the same thing.  Just like some people call me Jim and some call me James.

 

Here are the 12 notes with the sharp and flat note names:

 

Count
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
Name
A
A#/Bb
B
C
C#/Db
D
D#/Eb
E
F
F#/Gb
G
G#/Ab
 
The name letter is the name for the frequency that the sound vibrates at. The note A vibrates at 440 hz. 
(hz stands for hertz which means the number of cycles per second the sound vibrates at)