A lot of fuss goes on around key signatures. Things can seem complex and hard to remember. So here I will let you know the shortcuts that got me able to learn all the key signatures in no time.
What is a key signature?
A key signature is a group of sharps or flats that give you a particular scale.
For example to build a major scale starting from B you’ll get the notes B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#, B. So the key signature of B major is 5 sharps.
They’re written at the start of each line of piece in standard notation. You’ll see how the look further down this page. Once you get used to them you can instantly know what key you’re going to be playing in with a single glance.
But key signatures are not only useful when you’re reading music. They can also help you to work out the chords, arpeggios and scale shapes in a particular key.
What does ‘in the key of D major or B major’ mean?
It just means that you’re playing the notes and chords you would get when you build a scale up from a particular starting note.
The order of sharps and flats
When you look at a key signature you’ll see that the sharps and flats appear in a specific order. I’ll show you an easy way to remember this in a moment, but first let’s see where that order comes from.
The order of sharps
The sharps in a key signature appear in a set order. The order goes: F C G D A E B. I’ll show you why and how useful this is in a bit.
Father Christmas Gave David An Electric Blanket
The order of flats
Flats appear in the order B E A D G C F. I’ll show you why and how useful this is in a bit.
Because Every Afternoon David Got Cold Feet