How many black keys on a piano?

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by stevetrom, Aug 15, 2007.

  1. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    Just got back from a pub quiz where we (my team) came 2nd, one question was "How many black keys are there on a piano ?". I am not a piano player but I do have a piano, my answer was 35 the quiz master said 36 and this single point was enough to lose the quiz (and the £25 food/beer voucher).

    Being a sad b@$t@rd , when i got home I had a look at my piano, IT HAS 35 BLACK KEYS.

    Do I have a deficient piano or am I justified in giving the quiz master sh$t next week?
  2. Di

    Di Active Member

    There's 36 Steve. If I were you, I'd be off looking for that missing key. ;)
  3. Redhorn

    Redhorn New Member

    Mmmm....bit of a unfair question. MOST upright pianos have 7 octaves + a minor 3rd. 7 octaves= 35 black notes, min3rd (A-C)= 1 extra black note, so makes 36.
    HOWEVER a lot of pianos these days, particularly older ones, only have the 7 just the 35!

    Steve, pass the "sad b@$t@rd" hat to me at the wedding next week! ;-)
  4. stevetrom

    stevetrom Well-Known Member

    3.00pm wedding

    5.oopm reception

    by 7.00pm I will be passing nothin g but pure alcahol!

    So my 35 black kry piano is normal and I won the quiz !
  5. Redhorn

    Redhorn New Member

    Lets cut out the wedding and head straight for the bar! :)
  6. Maestro

    Maestro Active Member

    Congratulations to you two. I didn't realise that BMB's dating service had worked.:biggrin: :tongue:
  7. brassintheed

    brassintheed Member

    If my memory serves me right, there are also some pianos with an extra bunch of bass keys. These have there own little lid, so the piano can be left in the normal state, or have the extra keys available.

    This would add even more black notes to the total.

    I'm sure there was an occasion when two famous jazz pianists followed each other on stage, and one left the bass keys open, so the second player ended up getting completely confused as they didnt use that type of piano. I think Oscar Peterson was one.
  8. timbloke

    timbloke Member

    Size isn't everything you know.

    When I learnt, it was on a tiny 5.5 8ve piano. I only suffered once when playing Beethoven Sonata in C# Minor (Moonlight) in which, because Beehoven himself only had a smaller piano, he missed off the bottom octave on one of the left hand chords. My teacher suggested I put in the bottom octave as that would sound more complete, and I had to explain my instrument was too small :eek:

    I think I had a bigger one by the time I got onto anything more technical.


    And, what about the old fortepiano's (as opposed to the normal pianofortes)
    [​IMG] which, like harpsichords, often had black notes for the main notes and white ones for the sharps/flats. Could that be classed as a piano, and therefore how many black notes?
  9. Maestro

    Maestro Active Member

    The same with some organs Tim, about the keys being the other way around I mean.
  10. Maestro

    Maestro Active Member

    I think I heard that there is also an 'imperial' piano which may have a few more (or less) notes on it, without being in a 'box'. Please correct me if I'm wrong on this point. I think it was on one of the programmes that Howard Goodall was presenting.
  11. Morghoven

    Morghoven Member

    Ah, the classic case of a badly phrased pub question!!

    As has been pointed out, a modern-day standard piano covers 7 octaves and a minor 3rd, and has 36 black keys. The question should have been something along the lines of "How many black keys does a standard brand-new piano have?". The answer would have then been, indisputably, 36. 7-octave pianos are no longer standard, nor are pianos with reverse-coloured keys.

    It was Bosendorfer who first produced pianos extending to low 'F' at the bottom. Heaven only knows why!
  12. 2nd man down

    2nd man down Moderator Staff Member

    *cough* BOC! *cough* :rolleyes:
  13. Morghoven

    Morghoven Member

    Guilty as charged, your honour. :oops: :oops:
  14. NeilW

    NeilW Member

    My 1920's pianola has 36 - but "88 note" was the standard for these heavyweight beasts...

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