Reseaching early keyboard layouts, Wiki states that early keyboards, to facilitate Gregorian chant, had eight white keys per octave, leaving just four 'black keys' - which may well have been white, as the colours were reversed - another story!

It's well known that along with A, B, C, D. E, F and G, B♭ was incorporated in pieces. Hence B♮ was called (and still is) H in German.

Question is - why would B♭ and B♮ be arranged in such a way that the lower pitched B♭ was on the right of the higher pitched B♮. Logically, that doesn't make sense.

  • Possible duplicate of music.stackexchange.com/q/14954/9426 Apr 29, 2020 at 11:34
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    If you're referring to the quote in the question this possibly duplicates, "The earliest designs of keyboards were based heavily on the notes used in Gregorian chant (the seven diatonic notes plus B-flat) and as such would often include B♭ and B♮ both as diatonic "white notes," with the B♮ at the leftmost side of the keyboard and the B♭ at the rightmost." - I can't eliminate the possibility this quote refers to B♮ being the leftmost note on the keyboard and B♭ being the rightmost, with B♭ always placed to the left of B♮ unless it's at the very end of the keyboard.
    – Dekkadeci
    Apr 29, 2020 at 13:08
  • @Dekkadeci - You are most likely correct. The way it's phrased does say 'with Bnat at the leftmost side of the keyboard etc. BUT that says to me there's only one Bnat, which again defies logic. Maybe it should say 'Bnat. at the leftmost side of each octave. That would then make sense, and put Bb as the top note of each octave, with Bnat. following. But it doesn't say that !! Maybe change your comment into an answer - with explanation..?
    – Tim
    Apr 29, 2020 at 13:39
  • which exact Wikipedia page are you referring to? Apr 29, 2020 at 15:33
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    Aha.... my interpretation of that (IMHO) poorly-written section is that they mean the B-natural was the leftmost key in each run of white keys, and the Bflat the rightmost key in each run of white keys. So in a given modern octave Bflat is still below the B-nat key, but the black keys are placed differently to provide a "bound" for the white keys in a given more-or-less octave range. Apr 29, 2020 at 15:38


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