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Thread: Remembering key signatures

  1. #1
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    Default Remembering key signatures

    Anyone has a tip on how to train automatic key signature reading?

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    Yes, best tip in the world - WORK AT IT!! No quick fixes

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    Senior Member Romantic Geek's Avatar
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    Yeah, it's a lot of repetition and practice. You can always remember the order too, and there are certain tricks that help you learn that order

    (Sharps, take the last sharp and move up a half step and you have your major key. Take the last sharp and move down a whole step and you have your minor key.)
    (Flats, take the second to last flat. There is your major key. Take your last flat, move up a major third, there is your minor key.)

    But it is a lot of practice to get it automatic. Just sightread pieces a lot
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    I see. I am now training to see the piano in front of me with the sharps or the flats when using different key signatures. Its kind of hard, but ill work on it! Thanks btw

    How did you fellows do when you learned automatic key signature reading?

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    Interestingly enough, since we're talking about the piano, the C major scale (sans any flats or sharps) is the most difficult (or nearly so) to negotiate on the keyboard.

    There is a story that Irving Berlin, basically a self-taught pianist, only played in the key of F# major (six sharps - FCGDAE) because of the relative ease with which the fingers could negotiate the notes on the keyboard. I don't know whether or not this is true or apocryphal, but I can attest to the fact that playing in the key of F# major is far easier. a relative breeze. An example from the literature: Schumann's Romance in F# Major.

    Likewise, Gb and B major seem to fall much more gratefully to the fingers (think Schubert Impromptu #3 in Gb).

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    Senior Member Frasier's Avatar
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    It's easy to remember the order of the sharps/flats.

    Sharps: Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle.
    Flats: Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father.

    But that doesn't help with remembering what keys they relate to, except as others have said here, re the major keys at least.

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    What Romantic Geek said. That's about as simple as it gets.

    I might suggest really wood-shedding just the sharp keys first, rather than mixing it up with flats at the same time.
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    I agree with Steve, it will be easier if you focus on sharps first then move on to flats, still a huge challenge regardless! D:
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    Senior Member Kopachris's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frasier View Post
    It's easy to remember the order of the sharps/flats.

    Sharps: Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle.
    Flats: Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father.

    But that doesn't help with remembering what keys they relate to, except as others have said here, re the major keys at least.
    Yes. Now just memorize the Circle of Fifths with it. C, G (+F#), D (+C#), A (+G#), etc. and C, F (+Bb), Bb (+Eb), Gb (+Ab), etc. (Of course, simply subtract a minor third to find the relative minor. Same signature, just starts lower.)

    Just to be clear, the mnemonic is really only useful when you're writing music. For just reading music or finding the key, just count off the fifths above (if sharps) or below (if flats) C.

    Now try it in another mode!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kopachris View Post
    Yes. Now just memorize the Circle of Fifths with it. C, G (+F#), D (+C#), A (+G#), etc. and C, F (+Bb), Bb (+Eb), Gb (+Ab), etc. (Of course, simply subtract a minor third to find the relative minor. Same signature, just starts lower.)

    Just to be clear, the mnemonic is really only useful when you're writing piano music. For just reading music or finding the key, just count off the fifths above (if sharps) or below (if flats) C.

    Now try it in another mode!
    I am enjoying reading the threads of this forum. Your tips are very useful, I guess all I have to do is memorize those keys and keep practicing. I hope to see the progress in few days.

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    Learning good sight reading is way more important than trying to memorize theory. Theory is secondary to music.

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