Do you ever look at sheet music and wonder what key the piece is in. Wouldn’t it be great if there was an easy way of identifying the key? Well, good news there is and I am going to show you how. This short tutorial is written to provide you with the tools to identify major keys, we will leave minor keys for another day.
Let us start with the easiest one to identify, where there are no sharps # or flats ♭. The key signature will look like this:-
This is known as C Major, the scale of which contains all the white notes from C to C. There are no black keys to get in our way with this key.Using this as our building block we add our first # to the treble and bass clefs and we get the following:-
This is known as G Major, the scale of which contains only one black key, the F#. How do we know this is G Major apart from taking my word for it? Look where the # is positioned, it sits on the F line of both the treble and bass clef. The note directly above this is G. F# also happens to be the 7th note of the G Major scale.
We next move on to adding another # to the staves to get the following:-
This known as D Major, the scale of which contains two black keys, the F# and the C#. How do we know this is D Major. Now we need to look at where the new # is positioned, it sits on the C line of the treble clef. The note directly above this is D. C# also happens to be the 7th note of the D Major scale.
By now we can see a pattern developing. As we add a # to the clefs we only need to move up one note (the next line or space) from the # to get the key signature that the piece of music is in. To complete the picture here are the remaining key signatures for the Major keys.
This is the key signature for A Major. Again the 7th note in the scale of A Major is G#, therefore the note above gives us the key of A Major.
This is the key signature for E Major.
and for B Major.
This is F# Major, and finally,
we have C#Major
Wrapping it up
This article only looks at those major keys that use sharps. However, there are minor varieties that use the same key signatures but I will explain these in another post. If you have any questions leave a comment below and if you would like to stay informed when the next blog post is, why not sign up for the newsletter below.