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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Neat trick for QUICKLY finding the key of songs in

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Comments: 7
This will be small, but it's a neat little trick I was taught at the beginning of my music theory class.

Given that your song is in a Major key, it's VERY easy to figure out the key just by looking at the key signature. Without going through a huge long process by going through the Co5's (read blog below), you can figure it out easy.

For sharp key signatures, all you have to do is raise the LAST sharp a half-step. For example, let's use A Major. It has 3 sharps in it, F#, C# and G# in that order on the staff. The last sharp, as noted already, is G#. Well... what's G# up a half-step? A. Therefore, our key is A Major. For another example we'll use B Major. F#, C#, G#, D#, A# are all present in that order on the staff. Raise the A# a half-step and whaddya get? You got. B. 

For flat key signatures, you look at the SECOND TO LAST flat in the key signature. Of course, this only works if you have at least two flats, so you'll just have to remember that "1 flat = F Major". So... we'll choose Ab Major for our example. Bb, Eb, Ab, and Db are there, in that order, on the staff. Look at the second to last flat in the key signature... it's Ab. Easy enough right? Good.

I'll have to come up with a way to tell the minor keys, but I've got another acronym for that... I use that right now, so I'll just go ahead and tell it:

The order of sharps and flats for minor keys are the same for major songs (F C G D A E B, and B E A D G C F, respectively). An acronym we came up with in 9th grade went as follows:

A
Every 
Band
Function
Children
Get
Destroyed

That IS the order of increasing sharps using the minor scale. E minor has one sharp, B minor has 2, F# minor has 3, and so on and so forth.

The only thing you have to remember with this one is that, after the F#, the tonic is sharped in EVERY key. See how it goes from B to F? It really goes from B to F# to C# to G# to D# to A#. Easy stuff right?

The only problem with this is, I don't have a way to remember it going BACKWARDS. I myself have to go "Destroyed, get, children, function.. aright, it's in F minor". So that'll be something I have to think of...

To go backwards, the only thing different (aside form what I said above) is that, once you hit the "B" key going backwards (adding flats) it's REALLY Bb Minor. It's Bb Minor because the flats it has in the key signature are as follows: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb. The next key is Eb Minor and then Ab minor. Make sense?

God I hope so. 
9:13 pm - 7 comments - 0 Kudos - Report!
Comments
Sean0913 wrote on Feb 2nd, 2010 4:29pm

Great Mnemonics. Loved it. I use Mnemonics all the time, for example Easter Bunny Gets Drunk After Easter, to teach students open E tuning 1-6.

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Sean0913 wrote on Feb 2nd, 2010 4:32pm

And for Minor keys I just teach/use the Relative minor memorization. Cmaj or Amin or basically tell them go to the vi in whatever key. You could also say its the letter a full step off a 5, since even basic guitarists know power chords. Interesting challenge you've brought, to my Instructor side of things. I love tackling challenges on how to teach theory concepts.

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DiminishedFiftha wrote on Feb 2nd, 2010 10:51pm

Sean0913 wrote on Feb 2nd, 2010 at 10:32am :
And for Minor keys I just teach/use the Relative minor memorization. Cmaj or Amin or basically tell them go to the vi in whatever key. You could also say its the letter a full step off a 5, since even basic guitarists know power chords. Interesting challenge you've brought, to my Instructor side of things. I love tackling challenges on how to teach theory concepts.

That's what I find myself doing more often than not when looking for a minor key, but I'd still like to come up with an interesting mnemonic for it! It would definitely make life a lot easier.

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isaac_bandits wrote on Feb 17th, 2010 4:57am

Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle. Then in reverse it still works Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father.

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DiminishedFiftha wrote on Feb 18th, 2010 7:02pm

isaac_bandits wrote on Feb 16th, 2010 at 10:57pm :
Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle. Then in reverse it still works Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father.

I've got one for major keys... it's in my other blog... but minor keys BACKWARDS is giving me trouble.

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7grant2 wrote on Jul 26th, 2010 3:00am

For your Mnemonic listed, I have an alternative version that teaches both ways of the F C G D A E B. As stated forward "Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle", reversed is "Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles Father". Its interchangeable thus making it easier to memorize. I thought I would throw that out there for whomever may read this.

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WTC117 wrote on Jun 22nd, 2011 11:11pm

I love you, I really do. That first bit is amazing and I'm surprised I've never been told/seen that before...

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