# How to Remember Key Signatures For Music Exams

Did you know there are up to 30 key key signatures to memorize for music exams. Fortunately there is a way of calculating them all from knowing just seven. These are the major keys of the seven musical alphabet notes A-B-C-D-E-F-G and to help us do this we give these keys numeric values.

The order of the flats is: B, E, A, D, G, C, F. The first four flats spell BEAD. I used to remember **B**ritish **E**uropean **A**irways **D**o **G**ood **C**ontinental **F**lights which used to be true but BEA no longer exist anymore.

British European Airways Do Good Continental Flights

**F, C, G, D, A, E, B** are the order of the sharps. Try and remember a phrase like this one for the order of the sharps: **F**at **C**ats **G**o **D**own **A**lleys **E**ating **B**irds.

Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Birds.

Even more useful tips!

Have you noticed that the order of the sharps is the same as the flats only backwards!

**BEADGCF – FCGDAEB**

Look at the piano keyboard and notice how the order of the flat keys (F-Bb-Eb-Ab etc.) move down from middle C in perfect 5th intervals whereas the sharp keys do the same but ascending (G-D-A-E etc.) This is the Circle of 5ths.

The sharps and flats do exactly the same.

**MINOR KEYS**

To work out the minor key signatures then first think of the tonic or parallel major and subtract 3. Say you need to know C minor. First think about C major. C major has a value of 0. Subtract 3. Your result is -3. Minus 3 means three flats. So C minor has three flats. Now remember the order B-E-A. So C minor has Bb, Eb and Ab.

If you need to work out a more difficult minor key say F# minor for instance, then start with F major. Add 7. -1 +7 = 6 so F# major has 6 sharps. Then subtract 3 (ending up with F# minor = 3 sharps)

Did you know there are up to 30 key key signatures to memorize for music exams. Fortunately there is a way of calculating them all from knowing just seven. These are the major keys of the seven musical alphabet notes A-B-C-D-E-F-G and to help us do this we give these keys numeric values.

A (major) has 3 sharps (sharps are positive) so the numeric value of A is [3] (or +3)

B has 5 sharps so we remember B as [5] (+5)

C has no sharps or flats so we will call C [0] (zero)

D has 2 sharps so remember D as [2] (plus 2)

E has 4 sharps so E becomes [4]

F has one flat and as flats are negative we call F [-1] (minus 1)

G contains 1 sharp so G will be [1]

Now, here’s the clever bit… So you know the key signature of C major but want to figure out Cb major. The trick is to subtract 7 from the number of the key you know. For example C major is 0 (zero) so take away 7 and we arrive at -7 (minus seven). The minus signifies flats so Cb major has 7 flats. GET IT!

If you want to know C# (major) then because C# is higher than C major (sharper) then we add 7 to arrive at seven sharps (which is the key signature of C# major)

If you want to know Eb then work it out from the next nearest key signature you know with the same letter name. That’s E major which has 4 sharps. Now because Eb is lower (flatter) than E then we subtract 7 giving a result of -3. So Eb has three flats.

Isn’t that a diddy doddle!

I’ll need to have a rest now… I think I’ve worn my brain out! SORRY!