Key Signatures

The Key Signatures Made Easy

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How to Read the Signatures

Learning how to play piano involves some music theory knowledge. Before taking the InsidePiano online course is good to know a few things about music. In this article, we are going to learn how to recognize the music key signatures on the clefs. Piano players have to read two different clefs.

The Clefs

1. The Treble Clef (G)

b2ap3 large the g clef

The Treble Clef is known as the ‘G Clef’ in which the note G is positioned on the second line from the bottom. 

2. The Bass Clef (F) 

b2ap3 large the f clef

The Bass Clef is known as the ‘F Clef’ in which the note F is positioned in between the two dots on the second line from the top.

We can determine the Key Signature of a music piece by the sets of ‘Sharps or Flats’ indicated immediately after the clef. The order of these flats or sharps follows the circle of fifths. Starting from the key of ‘C,’ also its relative minor Am, which does not contain any flats or sharps, if we follow the circle of fifths moving clockwise, it adds the Sharps to the clef, and moving counterclockwise (circle of fourths), it adds the Flats to the clef.

b2ap3 large circle of fifths

But, how do we identify a key in a music score without having to resort to the circle of fifths?

There is a trick to identify what is the key when using flats and also what is the key when using sharps.

IDENTIFYING A KEY WITH FLATS:

The key of F contains only one flat (Bb), and it’s the only key with flats we have to memorize.

b2ap3 large F
b2ap3 large F

Image above shows the F Key on the treble clef and the bass clef.

After that, we have to look at the flat before the last one, that will give us the key. For example, if the clef contains two flats (Bb and Eb), the key would be “Bb Major” because the flat before the last is Bb.

b2ap3 large Bb arrow
b2ap3 large d key on f clef

If the clef contains three sharps (F#, C#, G#), the key would be ‘A Major,’ because if we raise half a step the last sharp G#, the note would be A, and so on.

b2ap3 large a key on f clef
b2ap3 large a key on f clef

 Image above shows the A Key on the treble clef and the bass clef.