Minecraft: How To Use Note Blocks

In Minecraft, you can pretty much make anything that you can think of, including songs. With the right placement of note blocks, you can create your favorite songs, or even something original!

With the 1.2 update way back in 2011, the note block was introduced, and even though they’ve been around for ten years, and they are still tricky to use. Making a full note block song takes a lot of determination.

Note blocks are a bit difficult to start using though, so in this guide, we are going to go over some basics. Here, you will learn how to craft them, as well as set the pitch and instrument, and finally how to construct a basic song.

How To Craft Note Blocks

To craft a note block, all you need is 8 wooden planks and 1 redstone. It’s pretty simple, and you will probably be able to craft one pretty quickly.

Arrange them as shown, with the redstone in the middle square of the grid and the planks around it.

Additionally, you are able to craft the note block with different types of wooden planks — they don’t have to be the same type of wood.

Setting Notes

The piano chart above can be overwhelming if you don’t know much about music, so let’s break it down simply.

A note block has 24 different pitch options. The pitch can be changed by right-clicking on the block. As you click on the block, you will notice that the color of the note changes. For example, the note in the image above is red. This means that it is the seventh pitch (or C#).

Left-clicking on a note block will play the tone, without changing the pitch. Combining these pitches can make chords, and they can be strung together to make a tune. Playing these note blocks manually will take a while though. To make a functioning song, you will need to include redstone. 

Redstone can sound daunting if you haven’t worked with it before, but we are going to go over how to create a simple redstone contraption to play a song.

Combine Note Blocks with Redstone to Play Them

As mentioned above, redstone is essential when creating a note block song. To power the blocks, you need a ‘switch’. Let’s take a look at the simple redstone setup in the image above. When the pressure plate is activated, the redstone on the ground will go through the repeater and then play the note block. In this situation, the repeater is unnecessary, however, they are important for making a song with different tempos and rhythms.

A repeater is essentially a device that repeats a redstone circuit. When using a repeater with note blocks, they play multiple notes in a row and create different tempos. If you just have note blocks connected with redstone dust, only the first note will play because the redstone can’t ‘loop’ to the next block.

There are four positions on a repeater, which basically delay the signal based on the setting. Make sure the repeater is vertical with the note block, as shown above. If you place the repeater sideways, it will not work.

In the example above, we have seven note blocks connected with repeaters set in the first position. When the pressure plate is activated, the notes will play quickly after one another. Changing the repeater to a different position will delay the next tone, creating different note lengths (quarter notes, eighth notes, etc.).

If you don’t know much about music, it’s okay. Knowing how to read sheet music may help you quickly find the notes to a song, but there are plenty of resources that write out note names. For practice, try creating a note block song of Mary Had A Little Lamb. This song isn’t too exciting, but it only has a few different notes (C, D, E, and G), which is perfect for beginners.

For the first two lines of the song, tune the blocks to these notes: E, D, C, D, E, E, E, D, D, D, E, E, E.

Fortunately, there are plenty of online tutorials for creating different note block songs, like this tutorial by Jon0201 Musicraft on YouTube, where you can learn to make a Wii Sports ‘doorbell.’ By pressing one button, you can have the Wii Sports tune in Minecraft. The tutorial goes over each note you need, and how to set up the repeaters.

How to Make Different Instrument Sounds

Placing a note block on certain blocks will create different sounds. The sounds are of different instruments, so you’re able to create a song that sounds more ‘full,’ rather than just having one instrument. Below are the instruments available through different types of blocks.

  • Wood: String Bass
  • Sand, Gravel: Snare Drum
  • Glass: Clicks (Hi-hat)
  • Stone (any dense ‘rock’ material): Bass Drum
  • Block of Gold: Bells
  • Clay, Honeycomb: Flute
  • Packed Ice: Chimes
  • Wool: Guitar
  • Bone Block: Xylophone
  • Block of Iron: Vibraphone
  • Soul Sand: Cowbell
  • Pumpkin: Digeridoo
  • Block of Emerald: Bit
  • Hay Bale: Banjo
  • Glowstone: Electric Piano
  • Any Other Block: Piano

Because the sound can be changed by the blocks placed underneath, you will want to plan accordingly. For example, a soul sand area might look cool, but the chosen song may sound weird with a cowbell. Overall, you can choose whatever sound you want. To start with your note block learning experience, it is best to just use dirt, so you will get a clear piano sound.

Now, you should have a basic understanding of how note blocks work! With practice, you will be able to create masterpieces.

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