NEW HOMEPAGE LANDING PAGE Forums Practice Questions Key Signature ????

Viewing 3 reply threads
  • Author
    • #41285

      I am still totally confused about the key signature. How do you know what notes for example a # applies to?

      Bob C

    • #41294

      2 quick ways, first if you look at the sheet music, there should be a number of # or b on the stave at the very start. How many of them there are are indicates the key, and where they are indicate that what note should be sharped or flatted. If the tune calls for one of those to be natural, there should be a natural symbol next to it.

      Secondly, if you just play the scale of the key, that should usually be the notes you’ll use (until you start getting in to more technically complicated tunes I think). So I’ve noticed on this site, each song usually has a scale as a warmup.. for example if you’re playing a tune and it’s in D, it will give you a D scale to warm up. When you do that scale, you play 2H instead of 2L (C# instead of C), thats just off the top of my head so I might have got it wrong though.

      so simple answer would be put in the sharps and flats so that the notes you play fit in to the major scale of the key signature. And that should work most the time, except I’ve noticed a few odd ones, like Boneaparte Crossing the Rockies.

      Interested to hear someone who understands this better than me chime in though.

    • #41295


      Thanks for the explanation. So the sharp or flat in the scale kind of makes sense now to me. I am coming from banjo so the whole notion of fretless is interesting. So why do we play C# instead of C is different. Is it just classic technique or is it that 2H is easier to finger when playing or sounds more fiddle like?
      Otherwise the scale would include C not C #.

      Played trumpet a million years ago.
      Trying to resurrect music reading skills.

      Thanks for helping a newbie!

      Bob C

    • #41356

      I’ve come from banjo (and other instruments before that also) too!

      The fretless thing doesn’t really affect it (see fretless banjo, or mandolins which are fretted but tuned same as fiddle).

      I find looking at a piano keyboard the easiest way to visualise it.. if going from one key to the key next to it (the black one) is a half step, but skipping the black one and going to the next white one is a ‘whole step’.
      Now if you start from the ‘C’ key, and play up the scale, you’ll find you go “whole whole half, whole whole whole half” (or something like that).
      Now if you start from the ‘D’ key and play that same progression (skipping and not skipping keys), you’ll find you end up playing some of the black keys too.
      This is because the chromatic scale (all the notes) doesn’t have a nice tidy number of semitones (due to maths/physics) so B and E don’t have sharps at all. It literally goes A, A#, B, C, C#
      If you were to just play all white keys, starting at D and finishing at D, you’re still playing the C scale, but in a different mode (Dorian), which is something Jason touches on.

      Anyway that’s about as far I can get before my understanding gets hazy, but safe to say some scales will always include sharps or flats. Even if you were to play the D scale on banjo, you’d still play a C# (2nd fret on the second string I think?).

      Understanding music theory and reading music are things I’ve been working on for ages, but because I’ve never had a music teacher it’s very haphazard, so hopefully some of that helps

Viewing 3 reply threads
  • You must be logged in to reply to this topic.