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Im all kinds of confused on Key Signatures, can somebody help please? It would be much appreciated.

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  • Im all kinds of confused on Key Signatures, can somebody help please? It would be much appreciated.

    Full confession, I have never really dealt with Key Signatures before. So I barely understand the "Circle of Fifths" let alone how to use the thing to determine the Key of a song. What am I suppose to know and do with the Circle of Fifths? I have no idea how to go about finding the key of a song, any help would be really appreciated.


  • #2

    Leon1242 wrote:

    Full confession, I have never really dealt with Key Signatures before. So I barely understand the "Circle of Fifths" let alone how to use the thing to determine the Key of a song. What am I suppose to know and do with the Circle of Fifths? I have no idea how to go about finding the key of a song, any help would be really appreciated.


    Probably better off posting in The Lesson Loft, but ...

    You know what a scale is, right? Do-Re-Mi and all that? Well, the key of a song is the root of a scale which contains every note from the song. The Circle of Fifths is a way to think about related keys (ie, keys which have a large number of notes in common).

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    Comment


    • Leon1242
      Leon1242 commented
      Editing a comment

      rsadasiv wrote:

      Leon1242 wrote:

      Full confession, I have never really dealt with Key Signatures before. So I barely understand the "Circle of Fifths" let alone how to use the thing to determine the Key of a song. What am I suppose to know and do with the Circle of Fifths? I have no idea how to go about finding the key of a song, any help would be really appreciated.


      Probably better off posting in The Lesson Loft, but ...

      You know what a scale is, right? Do-Re-Mi and all that? Well, the key of a song is the root of a scale which contains every note from the song. The Circle of Fifths is a way to think about related keys (ie, keys which have a large number of notes in common).


      Sorry, I still have this new layout down yet. I didn't even find this "Lesson Loft" Category, im not trying to be a nuisance or annoying or anything, i'm just trying to get a better understanding of music so I can make my own music. 

      On topic, I can't say I really know what a Scale is. I've heard of the Do-Re-Mi-Fa-So-La-Ti-Do thing I dont remember at all what it means. 


  • #3

    First you should understand Natural Note Names (A B C D E F G), Accidentals with sharps (#) and flats (b) like C#, Gb, D#, Eb, etc, etc... You should also be aware that a note that has an accidental (# or b) can also use a Natural Sign to change it from an accidental back to a Natural Note Name. The Natural Sign is also considered an accidental as it changes a described note but it is never included in the key signature.

    The Key Signature is nothing but a reference for a piece of music. Many people think it tells you what scale to play, this is not true in all cases as there is more to music than a blanket peice of information. It's primary purpose is to help you keep your sheet music less messy. If we didn't have have key signatures you would have to write in EVERY SINGLE # or b (sharp or flat, respectively) which at times can make sheet music pretty messy, quickly.

    So, the Keys reference which line or space in the music should treated as a sharp or flat. The these #'s and b's in turn reference preconcieved scales or Major scale and Minor scale.

    Every note on a staff is considered a Natural Note, UNLESS there is a # or b in the key signature, then those specific notes would be considered # or b.

    What the references tell us...

    The Key of C Major has no # or b, this tells us the scale reference is C D E F G A B C.

    The Key of G Major has one #, and the key signature shows this sharp placed on the F note/space on the music, so the Key of G Major has G A B C D E F# G.

    The Key of F Major has one b, the key signature shows the flat placed on the B note/line on the music, so the Key of F Major has F G A Bb C D E F.

    So, if you know the note names for the lines and spaces on the sheet music, you just either # or b the notes the key signature tells you to throughout the piece of music. This means the person writing the music and write all natural notes on the staff, but the key signature tells the player that specific notes are considered to include a # or a b.

    Getting the basic idea yet?

    The Natural Sign comes into play when a key signature tells you to # or b a note, but the music/melody/song needs it to be a Natural Note name at times. For example if we are in the Key of G Major (which has F#, right?) and we need to play an F# at one point and a F Natural Note for some other part of the tune, we would use the Natural Sign in front of the F note to override what the key signature shows. This is VERY common as music never really stays in one scale per scale.

    How can we learn what Keys have #'s or b's and how many? The quickest tool for that is the Circle of 5th's. The circle starts at the top with no #'s or b's (the Key of C Major) and continues clockwise adding a sharp each time, then switches to b's and descends from there back to the Key of C Major. And it works inversely whne moving counter clockwise.

    Here's the Circle of 5ths, notice it also shows the Key "name" what notes have accidentals as well as what the Relative Minor Keys are in reference to the Major Keys (the Relative Minor Keys are called such because they have the same Key Signature as their Major counter part).

    circle of 5ths

    Remember, a Key is only a reference for what notes have accidentals by default, it's doesn't necessarily tell a play what scale to play in.

    The Circle of 5ths is used for a lot more where music is concerned and a lot of music is evident when you learn more about it.

    Here are some references for Keys, the Circle, and basic Theory everyone should know:

    An organized, ground up approach to music theory (read the links in this order, Intervals, Chord Construction, and Diatonic Theory): http://lessons.mikedodge.com

    What determines when an accidental should be a # or a b?: http://mikedodge.freeforums.org/how-do-i-know-when-to-call-a-note-flat-or-sharp-t8.html

    Here's how jazz players use the Circle: http://mikedodge.freeforums.org/ii-v-i-playing-over-the-changes-t19.html

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    • LeftyTom
      LeftyTom commented
      Editing a comment
      gennation comes through. Thanks, Mike.

    • Yer Blues
      Yer Blues commented
      Editing a comment

      So, what exactly is the circle of 5ths?  Just a cute way of laying at all the fifths and seeing how they relate to each other?  I can tell you the 5th and whether it is major or minor.  I can tell you how to play a ii-V-I in any key. 

       

      Is there something I am missing in the circle? 



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