One late night I began doodling around the topic of key signatures. I had fun interweaving note names with numbers, and when I was finished, I found that I had created a musical tool that perhaps you might find handy.
The end result, in effect, is a visual fusion of a key (letter name) with its respective number of sharps or flats. Here I have posted the tool in two forms (click to enlarge each image):
- Vertical (black and white), progressing in ascending fourths as you move from the top of the image to the bottom.
- Circular (with color), as in the circle of fifths. As you move clockwise, you are moving up by fifths. As you move counter-clockwise, you are moving up by fourths.
|Circle of fifths|
To use the visual tool...
- Locate your desired major key.
- Observe its corresponding number. This is the number of sharps/flats in a particular key.
- If you are in a flat key (the blue half of the circle), add that number of flats to the key signature by following the order of flats (B E A D G C F).
- If you are in a sharp key (the green half of the circle), add that number of sharps to the key signature by following the order of sharps (F C G D A E B).
- Relative keys share the same key signature. In the same way you and your relatives share similar DNA, relative keys share the same number of sharps/flats.
- To go from a minor key to its relative major key, simply move up three half steps.
- Example: To get from F minor to its relative major, walk up three half steps (F#, G, Ab). We arrived at Ab, which means the relative major of F minor is Ab major. Therefore, we can say that both F minor and Ab major have the same key signature!
If you found these visuals helpful or if you know someone who might find them helpful, please feel free to share!