KEY SIGNATURES - A key signature is the sharps or flats in a major scale. They are written at the start of a piece of music to save you having to write an accidental (sharp, flat or natural sign) in front of each note. When you write down the sharps or flats in every major scale an amazing order appears. It is all based on the interval of a Perfect Fifth (see the Intervals page for an explanation of this). This is where the CYCLE OF FIFTHS comes from.
It is also called the Circle of Fifths or going "Round The Clock".
Many people are scared of the cycle of fifths but it is just another way of showing the key signature table above. The keys are set out around a clock face instead. It is important because it's where a lot of our harmony comes from.
Starting with C at the top of the Circle if you go up a perfect 5th you get G Major which has 1 sharp. Now go up a 5th from G and you get to D and D Major has 2 sharps. Next is A and that has 3 sharps. And so it goes on until we get to C# which has all 7 sharps.
You can also go backwards - From C go DOWN a 5th and you get F, F Major has 1 flat. From F go down a 5th and you get Bb and Bb Major has 2 flats and so it continues.
Below is a worksheet to download where you can fill in all the blanks and get to grips with the Cycle.
TEST YOUR KEY SIGNATURE SKILLS
Can you call out the signature for all these keys in less than a minute?
Hover your mouse over each key to see the key signature.
Now go back to the top and try some of the worksheets.
GOOD LUCK! Any problems please find a friend who understands and get them to help you out or book a lesson with a theory teacher. Don't suffer in silence. x