02 -Half Steps and Whole Steps


Did you read though the first free lesson called The Language of Music? If not, take a quick look and then come back.

The musical alphabet is really easy to learn. You probably already know it, but if you don’t….here goes: A-B-C-D-E-F-G

Each letter of the music alphabet represents a specific pitch. Just as the letter A is different from the letter B, so is the pitch represented by the letter A different from the pitch represented by the letter B.

Did you know: the musical distance between each ‘letter’ in the musical alphabet is measured by ‘Steps’.

*It is important to understand these ‘steps’ represent the distance between note letter name. They do not represent actual note letter names.

Try this simple experiment: Hold your hand out in front of you with all five fingers spread, palm facing inward. You will notice space between each finger. This ‘space’ is not the actual finger(s) but the distance between each finger. There is ONE space or distance between TWO different fingers just as there is one step between two letter names.

If you are not careful, you may make the easy mistake of thinking these ‘steps’ are the actual letter names.

There are two types of basic musical steps: Half Steps (H) and Whole Steps (W)

How many types of steps are there? ______ What are their names?

Pictures of Whole and Half Step Differences:

Musical ABC's -Worship ArtsLook at the A, B, and C.  Look at the ‘W’ under the A and B. This ‘W’ stands for WHOLE STEP. Do you know what the ‘H’ stands for?

You’ll notice the B and the C are adjacent. That means they are immediately next to each other -with nothing in between. This is a great example of a half step.



*it is very important to understand that the distance bewteen some letters in the musical alphabet are whole apart, while others are only a half step.

abc keyboard 1 Whole and Half Step on Guitar Fret Board:

guitar fret A-B-C -Worship Arts

Do you see the numbers to the right? They represent the number of strings on a six-string guitar. There is no ‘5‘ because in this diagram, it has been replaced by an ‘A‘. If the guitar is in ‘standard tuning’, the fifth string is an ‘A‘. Notice there are no ‘black keys’ on the guitar diagram. If you want to play the ‘B‘ you can stay on the same string as the ‘A‘, but will need to press the string down on the 2nd fret.

Notice we skip over the first fret.


So, how many types of ‘steps’ are there again? __________ and, what are their names?

Do you know how many half steps it takes to make a whole step?

*The letter names of the musical alphabet are used to make the scales we used in melodies. Each letter name has a numeric value attached, but depending on the ‘key’ or ‘scale’, these attached numeric values will differ.

next free theory lesson…

oh yeah…on a technical level, the half step is also called ‘semi-tone’, the whole step? ‘whole-tone’….