Key Signature Calculation

Front Matter1 Basic Concepts2 Major Scales and Key Signatures3 Minor Scales and Key Signatures4 Basics of Rhythm5 Intervals6 Triads7 Roman Numerals and Cadences8 Seventh Chords9 Harmonic Progression and Harmonic Function10 Non-Chord Tones11 Melodic Analysis12 Form in Popular Music13 Phrases in Combination14 Accompanimental Textures15 Creating Contrast Between Sections16 Figured Bass17 Secondary Dominant Chords18 Secondary Diminished Chords19 Mode Mixture20 The Neapolitan Chord21 Augmented Sixth Chords22 Modulation23 Enharmonic Modulation24 Binary and Ternary Forms25 Sonata and Rondo Forms26 Voice Leading Triads27 Voice Leading Seventh Chords28 Voice Leading With Non-Chord Tones29 Voice Leading Chromatic Harmonies30 Introduction to Counterpoint31 Introduction to Jazz Theory32 Impressionism and Extended Tonality33 Set Theory34 Serialism35 Minimalism
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Section 2.3 Major Key Signatures

A key signature is placed at the beginning of a piece (or the beginning of a section) and is written with the clef on the beginning of each line of music. The key signature reminds the performer which sharps or flats are in the scale (or key) of the piece and prevents the composer or arranger from writing every sharp or flat from the scale every time it occurs.

Đang xem: Key signature

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Figure 2.3.1. “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” in D major

There are 15 major key signatures. The key of C major has no sharps or flats in the key signature. The other key signatures can have between 1 to 7 sharps and 1 to 7 flats, giving us the other 14 key signatures.

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Figure 2.3.2. Major Key Signatures using Sharps

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Figure 2.3.3. Major Key Signatures using Flats

It is important to memorize the order of sharps and flats, since you will be writing key signatures regularly.

The order of sharps is ( ext{F})–( ext{C})–( ext{G})–( ext{D})–( ext{A})–( ext{E})–( ext{B}), often remembered by a mnemonic. One common mnemonic for the order of sharps is “Fast Cars Go Dangerously Around Every Bend.”

The order of flats is ( ext{B})–( ext{E})–( ext{A})–( ext{D})–( ext{G})–( ext{C})–( ext{F}). It is the reverse of the order of sharps. It is easy to remember since the first four letters make the word BEAD, and GCF is something most students learn as “Greatest Common Factor” when studying math in elementary school.

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A mnemonic that works forward and backward is “Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle,” which reversed is “Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles’ Father.”

A helpful learning device to remember the order of keys in relation to the order of sharps and flats is the circle of fifths. As you ascend in fifths (clockwise), key signatures get one degree “sharper.” (( ext{C}) to ( ext{G}) is a fifth because ( ext{C})=1, ( ext{D})=2, ( ext{E})=3, ( ext{F})=4, and ( ext{G})=5.) As you descend in fifths (counterclockwise), key signatures get one degree “flatter.”

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Figure 2.3.4. Circle of Fifths for Major Keys

Note the overlapping keys at the bottom of the circle. ( ext{B}) major is enharmonically the same as ( ext{C}^♭) major, ( ext{F}^♯) major is enharmonically the same as ( ext{G}^♭) major, and ( ext{C}^♯) major is enharmonically the same as ( ext{D}^♭) major.

Subsection 2.3.1 Identifying Key Signatures

While it is preferable to memorize key signatures, use the following method to determine major key signatures based on the sharps or flats in the key signature.

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For key signatures withs sharps: Go up a half step from the last sharp to find the key.

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