Reading Key Signatures

KeySignatureColorPicture

Reading Key Signatures
(Western Tonal System)

Major Keys

FOUR RULES for reading key signatures

  1. C major has no sharps and no flats
  2. F major has 1 flat – Bb
  3. Sharp Keys – go up a half step from the last sharp – that is the name of the major key
  4. Flat keys – the next to the last flat is the name of the major key

Minor Keys

  •  Major and minor keys which share the same key signature are called “relative”.
  •  To find the relative minor, go down a minor third from the tonic of the major key.  Let’s say we have a key signature of two sharps:   F# and C#.   According to rule number 3 above, we would go up a half step from C#, to the key of D major.  To find the relative minor of D major, count back a third:  D, C#, B.   B is the relative minor of D major.

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