How Many Octaves Are There On a Piano?

how many octaves on a piano

Have you ever been around musicians or sung in your school choir? If so, you have probably heard of the term ‘Octave’ even if you are not a musician.

Apart from making your piano lessons easier, octaves serve the purpose of deciding the range of your piano.

In modern times, piano keys range from 32 to 96 with a wide range of octaves.

Believe it or not, learning how many octaves on a piano and the significance of it can actually make your learning process smooth and help you buy smart.

What is an Octave?

If you are new to the piano, you might be wondering what an octave is?

Well, the word octave derives from a Latin word, ‘Octo,’ which means eight. To put it simply, an octave is an interval between two notes or pitches of the same name.

Here lies the secret of the piano keyboard. We’ll get back to it later.

You might be wondering why it is called an octave?

Well, if you look closely at the piano, you will notice that any note repeats after eight notes. Hence, it is called an octave.

For example, if you start with a C note, you can actually count eight notes from there to get to the later C note. The distance is always the same, even if it’s higher or lower in pitch.

piano octaves

Quick Trivia:

If you play the middle C note on the piano, the hammer will hit the middle C strings and make them vibrate at a frequency of 256 times per second.

Similarly, if you press down the C note an octave higher, the strings will vibrate 512 times per second.

The higher a note gets, the higher the frequencies of strings become.

How many Octaves are there on the Piano?

There are various types of pianos with different numbers of keys.

A full-sized piano comes with a total number of 88 piano keys, including 52 white keys and 36 black keys.

There are 7 full octaves in a piano.

Playing an octave means playing the white keys, AKA major notes.

Although, each octave also includes 5 black keys, which are the minor notes in an octave.

History of Octave

Has it ever occurred to you why there are 88 keys in a piano? Well, to seek the answer, we need to delve deep into the history of the piano.

The closest predecessor of the piano is the harpsichord. Naturally, composers from the Renaissance and Baroque periods composed their music for Harpsichords.

Constructed with 60 keys, harpsichords limited the composers to only 5 octaves. Also, they had to pluck the strings manually with a plectrum; the hammer was non-existent back then.

According to music historians, around the end of the 17th century or the beginning of the 17th century, an Italian harpsichord maker and instrument technician named Bartolomeo Cristofori created a new hybrid instrument (both string and percussion) with a damper system and a hammer.

Italian poet Scipione Maffei described the newly invented musical instrument as a quieter and louder version of the harpsichord. From this remark, the instrument got its original name Fortepiano (literally translates to loud-soft).

Fortepiano was nothing less than a revolution in music history. It changed the course of piano forever and opened up a whole new musical range of the piano.

Almost a century later, the musical range of a piano rose up to 7 octaves. Famous composers like Friedrich Chopin, Beethoven, and Franz Liszt composed their divine piano pieces in 7-octave pianos.

Piano manufacturer Steinway introduced the modern-day 88-key piano in 1880, including 7 octaves and 3 extra keys.

As we all know, modern-day pianos come with a total number of 88 keys (52 white keys and 36 black keys), divided in 7 full octaves.

Only a True Pianist Will Get this Right

Learning piano not only offers you the gift of music, but also a friend for life. Attend this quiz below if you consider yourself a Piano geek.

1 / 8

What type of Instrument is Piano?

2 / 8

How many keys are there in a full-sized piano?

3 / 8

What is the other name of bass clef?

4 / 8

What does BB mean in a piano?

5 / 8

Which pedal creates legato effect?

6 / 8

Who wrote the beautiful composition named ‘Kinderszenen’?

7 / 8

How many pedals are there in an acoustic piano?

8 / 8

What does a damper do?

Do I have to Memorize all the Piano Notes?

I was once a beginner, so I can understand how intimidating it can be to sit in front of a piano (come on, I’m talking about 88 keys) when you know nothing. The mere thought of remembering all the names of the notes is itself overwhelming.

However, learning to identify the octaves can save you from misery. As the notes repeat themselves in every octave, it is wiser to memorize the notes within an octave.

It means all you have to memorize is the names of 8 white keys and 5 black keys. It already seems easier now, right?

If you can memorize all the notes and patterns in an octave, there is no need to memorize every single key from the whole key set.

Octaves in Modern Day Pianos

From the inception, Pianos have gone through a lot of changes. In this digital age, pianos and keyboards are going through drastic changes in their nature. Not all of them contain 88 keys or 7 octaves.

Let’s take a look at the different types of pianos and how many keys and octaves they come with.

Extra Small Keyboard

Total Keys: 25 – 37 keys

Octaves: 2 – 3 octaves

Extra small keyboards are not suitable for practice or concerts. These keyboards are mostly used for music compositions.

In fact, you can only use them by connecting it to a computer through USB or MIDI.

Small Keyboard

Total Keys: 49 keys

Octaves: 4 octaves

Small keyboards are advanced versions of extra small variant. However, you can use these keyboards for practice and playing purposes. These keyboards are suitable for beginners.

Small keyboards are extremely popular among street musicians.

Medium Keyboard

Total Keys: 61 keys

Octaves: 5 octaves

Popular among Hip-Hop musicians and live performers, these pianos offer a wide range of sound compared to their smaller versions. This 5-octaves piano/keyboard is perfect for practice in your initial learning days.

Semi- Large keyboard

Total Keys:  76 keys

Octaves: 6 1/2 octaves

Now you have come to the serious musicians’ arena. These are highly equipped with touch-sensors and weighted keys to give you the exact feel of an upright piano.

Mostly intermediate or semi-professional musicians use these keyboards.

Check out EnthuZiastic piano classes for a personalized piano learning experience.

Large Piano

Total Keys: 85 keys

Octaves: 7 octaves

Now, coming to the real piano section, these pianos are the introductory models of professional pianos. The 7 octaves range offers you a wide musical possibility.

Standard Modern Piano

Total Keys: 88 keys

Octaves: 7 full octaves

This is the standard-piano size your piano teacher will recommend you. If you are willing to become a professional pianist someday, then I would suggest you play these pianos. You will be amazed at the look, feel, and sound of these instruments.

Extra Large Piano

Total Keys: 96 keys

Octaves: 8 octaves

Generally, you won’t come across these types of pianos much. There are limited piano makers who make these pianos. So, naturally the price range is unimaginably high. The extra keys are intended to imitate a few transcriptions of organ pieces.


How many tones are there in an octave?

There are 5 tones and 2 diatonic semitones in an octave. Let me break it down for you. A tone consists of a chromatic semitone and a diatonic semitone in any major scale. Thus, an octave is made of 12 semitones (5 chromatic semitones and 7 diatonic semitones).

How many keys does a piano have?

Modern piano (grand Piano) comes with 88 keys, consisting of 52 white keys and 36 black keys. Thus a piano keyboard comes with 7 full octaves. However, keyboards, upright pianos, synthesizers, and digital pianos vary in their key numbers.

Which note is the highest on a piano?

The highest note on a piano is the C8. It is simply an abbreviation of the C note in the 8th octave.

Do I need to remember all the keys on a piano?

No, you don’t have to remember all the keys on a keyboard. It is nearly impossible to remember all the note names of the keys. All you can do is remember the notes in an octave. In every octave, the notes repeat themselves in the same sequence with a higher or lower pitch and bass.

If you can remember the notes in an octave, you can name all the keys automatically.

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Sometimes, it might feel overwhelming to sit before the piano. Just remember that cold feet are nothing new, and you will be surprised to know that even the best pianists get nervous from time to time.

Make smart learning a priority. Learn about all the octaves to make your piano journey smooth. Don’t forget to practice your skills simultaneously while learning music theory.

If you feel the need, you can join an online piano class for expert guidance.

Above all, the key to becoming a pianist is to practice. So, don’t waste your time and sit for practice.

EnthuZiastic offers excellent piano classes. Check them out of you are looking for a piano teacher.

Your perseverance will make all the difference.

All the best for your musical journey ahead!

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