I would like to know if there is a special order for notes in English and/or an international notation system.

In french, our order is Do Ré Mi Fa Sol La Si which is equivalent to C D E F G A B, what about the rest of the world? Do you use A B C D E F G or something else?

4 Answers 4


All traditionally notated Western music works the same way. Eastern countries (Asia most notably) and Africa have very different music cultures than those of us in the West, thus have very different notation systems and a completely different sense of tonality meaning they do not hear our major scale (do, re, me, etc.) as a standard scale. Hope that helps.

  • Good, so I should use the "C D E F G A B" sorting for my buttons in the game i'm programming?
    – Cyril
    Commented Mar 25, 2012 at 12:18
  • Yes. That would be the most commonly understood way of identifying the notes, all over the world.
    – user1044
    Commented Mar 27, 2012 at 15:26

As per your comment on Michael's answer, I would suggest localizing for the countries that have different systems. The common one is C-D-E-etc, and you already know the fixed-Do French system.

Germany's system is slightly different, they go C-D-E-F-G-A-B (instead of Bb)-H (instead of B natural).

There is a chart on this Wikipedia page that you may find useful.


You ask whether it should start C D E.. or A B C .. etc - it could be any of them.

Do does not have to be C - it could be any of A, B, C, D, E, F or G. It depends on the key you are in - Do is the root.

  • 3
    The French Do Re Mi system is used -instead- of C D E: it's a fixed-Do system.
    – NReilingh
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 3:03
  • 1
    @Dr Mayhem: you are correct about no tone being the "first one". Traditionally when naming all the tone names, you start on Do, though. This must have to do with the fact that C major is the one major scale with no accidentals. I think this is what OP refers to.
    – Gauthier
    Commented Mar 26, 2012 at 14:07

Unfortunately, the names for the white keys on the piano are somewhat deceptive concerning the international agreement. As soon as you are no longer in C major or need the name for a black key, situation becomes complex, since nearly each language has its own set of suffixes, which may be glued onto or stay as separate word as c sharp (English) vs. cis (German).

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