Sunday, June 04, 2006


Lesson-28 : Key Signatures - Key to Simplification!

Hi All,

Some of you (!?) might have tried to write the Major scales explained so far in the form of notes on a Stave..!

Ok…… even if you haven’t tried so far, imagine you are going to do that .. or somebody wants to write notes for a song in one of these major scales….!

Other than C-Major, in all other major scales you are either having sharps or flats..!

The way of writing these “accidentals” is to put down the concerned symbols before each of the note..!

In case of G-Major, wherever F is coming, you are bound to put the sharp before that…!

Imagine the case of B- Major or D-flat Major….the number of notes sharpened or flattened are too many……which complicates writing of notes as well as reading them…!

You realize that…? How to tackle that….?

The answer given by WCM convention is to use “Key Signature”

For example, in the case of G-Major, you write the sharp symbol in the 5th line of Treble Clef (Every Green Bus Drives Fast….) and 4th line in case of Bass Clef (Good Boys Deserve Fine Apple) to notify that “ hereafter Any note written for F shall be read as F-Sharp”…….!

In case of E-flat Major, we know that the notes B,E, A are flattened….So write the flat symbols in the concerned space or lines of treble or bass clef for the letters B, E and A once in the beginning and notify that…

hereafter Any note written for B, E and A shall be read as B-Flat, E-Flat and A-Flat respectively….!

Such Cluster of symbols of flats or sharps written in the beginning (after Clef symbol) is called the “Key Signatures”

Conversely, Just by seeing the key signature location and noting the number of flats or sharps, one can easily say What the Scale of the song is….!

So players of instruments or singers, just see the key signature at start and guess the type of Major Scale.. and everything else automatically falls in line…!

For the novice, it will be a problem and may make some mistakes of omitting the sharps or flats…but those who have perfected the Major Scales, its part of routine…!

Thus the complication of writing as well as reading of notes simplified by using “Key Signature”

Some examples of major scale passages with key signature are given below:

There are some conventions while using the key signatures :

The order of writing the sharps or flats is the same as the sequence of the notes getting sharpened or flattened in each of the Major Scales….

We know the sentences
- Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle
- Battle Ends And Down Goes Father Charles

Key Signatures are written at the beginning of each line

Even though same letter may be coming in space or line also, the place of sharps or flats in a stave is pre-determined and only that should be used.. !

By chance, if any other notes, other than the normal notes, to be sharpened or flattened, these shall be written in front of the concerned notes (in the song) only and NOT in the key signatures !

(these are rare cases…. when modulation or something occurs…then some additional notes are sharpened or flattened …)

So, we have understood the term and purpose and usage of Key signatures.
Such key signatures are used in the case of Minor Scales also, which we are going to know about soon.

Best regards from NY! »
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