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Key Signatures

 

Scales and Modes

Chord Types and Symbols

How to Transpose

The key signature indicates the tonal center of a piece. Here is a diagram showing the key signatures of the twelve Major keys and their relative minor keys. Sharps and flats are never mixed in a key signature, and their order is always the same (with Bb or F# appearing first, for example).

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Key Name

Key Signature

C Major / A minor

(No sharps or flats)

F Major / D minor

Bb

Bb Major / G minor

Bb, Eb

Eb Major / C minor

Bb, Eb, Ab

Ab Major / F minor

Bb, Eb, Ab, Db

Db Major / Bb minor

Bb. Eb, Ab, Db, Gb

Gb Major / Eb minor

Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb

B Major / G# minor

F#, C#, G#, D#, A#

E Major / C# minor

F#, C#, G#, D#

A Major / F# minor

F#, C#, G#

D Major / B minor

F#, C#

G Major / E minor

F#

Basics of Music Notation

Below is an example of the treble and bass clefs (linked together as a grand staff), including a key signature and time signature, as they would appear in music notation for piano.

The key signature specifies the necessary accidentals (sharps or flats) for the key. There's no need to write further sharps in the piece if we stay within these scales.

On each staff line, reading from left to right, are:

  • Treble clef (upper line) or bass clef symbols
  • Key signature of A Major/ F# minor indicating that all F's, C's and G's are to be played as sharps
  • Time signature (in this case a 'C' indicating 'common time' or 4/4)
  • A Major scale in eighth notes
  • A Major triad (3-note chord) in whole notes
  • F# natural minor scale in eighth notes
  • F# minor triad in whole notes
A Major/ f# minor scales and triads

The following example shows the key signature of Ab Major/ F minor including the Major and minor scales in those keys:

Ab Major/ F minor scales

Below is an example of the key signature and scales of D Major/ B minor:

D Major/ f# minor scales

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