Tag Archives: cycle of 5ths

"Gotta get to my study room!"

AC#47 Major Keys and Their Key Signatures

Key signatures are the group of sharps and/or flats written on the staff at the beginning of a piece. This convention gives musicians a convenient way to organize the sharps and/or flats of the predominant scale upon which a piece, or a section of a piece, is written.

Even though an octave contains only 12 different keys, there’s a total of 15 major key signatures that are officially recognized when you’re looking through the lenses of traditional music theory. In learning about key signatures and the cycle of keys, it helps to understand major scales.

To review and play the major scales via an onscreen piano, click this drop-down link.

The bone structure of a major scale is made from an 8-note string of major and minor 2nds, mostly whole steps between each note with the exceptions of steps 3 to 4, and 7 to 8.Scale Construction The numeric information gives you an outlined overview of the scale steps. Counting each step, as you move along (1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8), helps with keeping you aware of exactly where you are at each scale step.

The intervalic information places the notes in order by measuring intervals: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. This tells you the exact spacing required between each scale step.
The construction crew discusses the major scale specifications

1-8 = scale steps
w = whole step (major 2nd)
1/2= half step (minor 2nd)
1 w 2 w 3 1/2 4 w 5 w 6 w 7 1/2 8

Start with C and follow the schematic’s instructions step-by-step to play the C major scale.
Use this onscreen piano keyboard to play a major scale on each of the 12 keys!

Cycle of keys displayed on a chalkboard graphic

Look at the chalkboard, memorize the 15 key signatures, then click here to take a pop-up quiz. Click each chalkboard key signature to hear its major scale harmonized and played “solo piano”. Click each sun glasses key signature to hear its major scale played with a virtual rhythm section. You can use this onscreen piano keyboard to play along with any of the accompaniment tracks.

I’ve been super-crazy-busy lately and I love it!  That’s all for now.  See you next post.