Old Post Regarding Key Signatures

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by johnc, Nov 17, 2004.


  1. johnc

    johnc Member

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    A couple of months ago someone posted several easy ways to memorize the sharps and flats of a given key.

    If any one saved the post that I'm talking about; could you repost it?

    In the post that I'm talking about, I believe Jack Zucker suggested that it be archived, but obviously it wasn't. It's a shame that a lot of things that have been discussed here have disappeared.

    Thanks.
     
  2. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    That was me, sure I'll write it up again later tonight.
     
  3. johnc

    johnc Member

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    Thanks so much!

    This time I'll archive it on my computer.

    Has anybody else noticed that a lot of our old discussions have been removed? There's a lot of valuable information here that should be archived for future reference.
     
  4. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    I was real disappointed that a thread Jack started some time ago on books disappeared. People listed tons of books and then another member condensed the list into one post. He did a lot of work and it was great. Sure wish I'd save it.
     
  5. Mark C

    Mark C Member

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    Memorize the order of sharps (F,C,G,D,A,E,B) it's also the order of flats in reverse (B,E,A,D,G,C,F).

    For sharp keys, the key is one half step above the last sharp. Two sharps = D major (last sharp is C#). Four is E Major (last is D#) Get the idea?

    For flat keys, it's the next to last flat that gets the key. Three flats in the key signature is Eb Major (last flat is Ab, next to last Eb).

    F major is the key with only one flat.

    So, when you look at keys, see how many sharps or flats there are, then use the methods above after memorizing the order of sharps and flats to find the key. Minor keys are one and a half steps down (minor third) from the major key. Also known as the sixth mode of major. If you find the key and notice that everything is revolving around the sixth note of the major scale, then you are actually in the related minor key.

    Hope this helps.
     
  6. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    What Mark C said.

    Two caveats. I prefer learning it the other way around.

    Flats first - BEADGCF simply cuz it spells BEAD (GCF), then backward is the order of the sharps. (FCGDAEB)

    The other caveat is for finding minors.

    For sharps, the minor key is the note one whole step (Major second) down from the last note sharped.

    ex. If you see one sharp F#, one whole step below F# is E, so it's E minor.

    F#-C# whole step below C# = B minor

    For flats the minor key is a major 3rd above the last note flatted.

    ex. If you see one flat Bb up a major 3rd is the next line on the staff, so the minor key is D.

    Bb + Eb major 3rd up from Eb is Gmin (next space on the staff)
     
  7. Tom Gross

    Tom Gross Supporting Member

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    I think of it this way for sharp keys - the last sharp is the 7th. That tells me both the key (1/2 step up) and the minor key (whole step down).
     
  8. johnc

    johnc Member

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    Are you saying that G and E minor have the same key signature; and that D and B minor have the same key signature?
     
  9. Mark C

    Mark C Member

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    That's correct. They have the same notes within the scales, they just start on a different note. All of this stuff is so much easier to visualize on a piano.
     
  10. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Just to extrapolate a little more. The character of a scale is defined by the intervals between each note. Let's just use diatonic (7 note scales) as an example for now.

    As Mark pointed out, if you look at a keyboard you will notice a pattern of three black keys two white keys and two black keys two white keys, etc.

    [​IMG]

    When you play a white key and the adjacent black key, you are playing one 1/2 step AKA a minor 2nd.

    If you play a white key that has a black key in between two white keys and then play the next white key, you are playing a whole step AKA a major 2nd.

    Look at the three black keys. Going from left to right, the first note to the left of the last of the three black keys is an A. Playing only white keys you get:

    A-B-C-D-E-F-G

    Now notice there is no black key between B & C and E & F. That's because B to C = one 1/2 step and E to F - one 1/2 step. All the rest are whole steps.

    A "C" major scale =

    C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C
    1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8

    So there is a 1/2 step between the 3rd and 4th note of the scale (E to F) and the 7th and 8th note of the scale (B to C). The rest are whole steps. It's where the 1/2 steps and whole steps occur in the scale that give it it's character.

    Starting on A:
    A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A
    1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8

    Now the 1/2 steps fall between the 2nd and 3rd scale degrees and the 5th and 6th scale degrees. The rest are whole steps. Now the character of the scale is minor yet we are still playing only the white keys (ie natural notes - no sharps or flats).

    You can continue on with this and that's where the Greek modes come into play. For example:

    D-E-F-G-A-B-C-D
    1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8

    Now the 1/2 steps fall between the 2nd & 3rd and the 6th & 7th. This is called a Dorian mode.
     
  11. RobertMiller

    RobertMiller Member

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    Great to memorize them, and they do eventually become second nature, but don't forget to throw in a circle of fifths chart (google it), which will really bring it home.
     
  12. sirN

    sirN Guest

    If you can remember Fred & Barney, then you can do it.

    Yaba daba dooooo
     

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