Translating Musical Notes: My Piano Keyboard Diagram

Are you a professional musician or a music student who is only familiar with either one of the musical note naming conventions and have a hard time memorizing/studying/remembering the other set of names?  

Look no further, for you can now download a piano keyboard diagram that I have compiled in pdf format, initially to cater for my own needs and that I have thought to share. 

The background is that following a thirty-three-year pause, I finally decided last year to resume the piano lessons that I had initiated in Beirut, at the tender age of 9. 

I have to admit it has been thrilling not only to get back on track with note-reading, playing new tunes and fixing whatever wrongs the long years of inactivity did to my hands and posture, but it was also a pure joy to rediscover, from an adult (and a language professional) point of view, the wonders of musical notes that constitute by all means a language in their own right.

As a globetrotter and a polyglot, it was inevitable for me to search for musical scores and partitions to play from other countries, namely the English-speaking ones, since these countries and their language are the most prolific in terms of music production and enjoy a huge footprint on the net, respectively. 

The major snag to me however, was the different names assigned to notes. Where I was used to Do Re Mi, there was C, D, E etc. And since those letter-names are not assigned according to an alphabetical order they could not be easily associated to their counterparts in the solfège nomenclature. Therefore, I found it imperative, in the initial stages at least, to draft a comparative list with those two sets of names to help me memorize them. 

Eventually, I had the idea of writing the double names on a piano keyboard diagram (cf featured picture here above), that can be easily downloaded, printed and shared. 

One might ask: how come notes are named differently in different countries?

To answer that, I will provide as follows a  brief historical overview on why notes are named differently in various countries.

Most countries in the world use the naming convention based on the solfège syllables that is, Do–Re–Mi–Fa–Sol–La–Si, including ItalySpainFranceRomania, most Latin American countries, GreeceBulgariaTurkeyRussia, and all the Arabic-speaking or Persian-speaking countries.

However, within the English-speaking and Dutch-speaking world, notes are typically represented by the first seven letters of the Latin alphabet (A, B, C, D, E, F and G).

This letter-name system is the work of 6th Century Roman Senator and Philosopher Boethius (Boezio in Italian). He used those Latin letters to signify the notes of the two-octave range people were using at the time, which looked like that:


Later on, with the expansion of the octave range, the number of used letters shrunk and their sequence changed, ending up with the modern format: C-D-E-F-G-A-B. 

Then almost 5 centuries later, an Italian monk of the Benedictine order by the name of Guido d’Arezzo proposed the Do-Re-Mi-Fa-Sol-La-Si configuration which became later the basis of the solfège system.

Guido d’Arezzo first came up with Ut–Re–Mi–Fa–Sol–La that he took from the initial syllables of each of the first six half-lines of the first stanza of the Gregorian hymn Ut queant laxis (Inno di San GIovanni in Italian, or Saint John’s Hymn) which looks as follows:


It has sometimes been suggested too that the solfège syllables were really derived from dāl, rā’, mīm, fā’, ṣād, lām, tā’ – the syllables of the Arabic solmization system درر مفصّلات Durar Mufaṣṣalāt (meaning “Separated Pearls”) during the Islamic influences in Medieval Europe. However, such claims remain unsubstantiated.

Back to the diagram , it is downloadable on the link below in pdf format and can be printed out and/or used on electronic devices according to your needs. 

Hope many of you would find it useful:


3 thoughts on “Translating Musical Notes: My Piano Keyboard Diagram

Add yours

    1. HI there! So thoughtful of you. Indeed I was suspended out of the blue. I appealed their silly decision. If it takes too long I will open a new account. Thank you anyways. Kessna w kess emm Twitter lol


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