What Can I Say about B# that I Cannot Say about C?

Posted: July 1, 2013 in Piano

I noticed that I play in the Key of B sharp quite often. Too much in fact. My fingers seem to search out those notes as they fall, one by one, into their familiar patterns.

It is such a difficult key; B sharp. The mind must process an extra step as it translates B# into C over and over again. F double sharp is, after all, just G.  An analogy on confusing directions would be to tell your feet to stand on this stone, move over one, move one more.  Likewise, directing your finger to find F double sharp is saying “Play a note which is not F, not F# and not really F double sharp, which is really G, but it isn’t.”

And the brain does all that extra work (in my head at least) and becomes affixed on the big fat white key aka G. Because we all know that G is a white note, and F double sharp must be a black note, except it isn’t. When the piano stops being black and white, and the line is crossed into a reality where black is white and white is black, then what is the point of having black and white keys in the first place? Visual congruity? I think not – not if an F can become a G with only a funny mark which says it is sharp sharp! And don’t get me started on flat flats! What pray tell is a natural natural?

It was one recent calm morning that I had an epiphany. It was similar to when your eyes go crossed and uncrossed for a brief second. Except in this case, instead of seeing a distortion, I saw clarity. B sharp IS C. I could not believe my crossed eyes. Blinking twice, I tried to recapture the view. There it was again! How had this view of the piano eluded me for so long. It was all so simple now! White note, white note, white note, white note, white note, white note, white note, white note. I was amazed at how white everything seemed.

Then I thought, how many other times in my life have I looked at the world and saw it as B sharp, when in truth, it was just C all along. There is a hard way in life, and an easy way. And it seems that it all depends on your point of view. What can I say about B sharp that I cannot say about C? They are similar, but they are not alike.


  1. I’m a novice at piano playing, with a number of decades of experience as an enthusiastic and perpetual student of guitar, voice, songwriting and musical composition, so when you talk of the black and white keys, it seems to me a narrow, visual definition. Sure, most pianos have the large (wide and long) keys colored white and the smaller (thinner and shorter) keys colored black, but isn’t the the shape and size (as well as the relative height on the keyboard) more relevant than the color? Aren’t we supposed to be looking at the printed sheet music instead of the piano keys? Should we be feeling the music with our ears and fingers rather than looking that the hue of the levers we are pressing and releasing? As far as I’m concerned, music is colorful sound, rarely black and white, more like a full spectrum of sonically colidasocspic, magnificently vibrant and kinetically transcending vibrations.