New Major Keys
In the grade 1 lesson on Scales and Key Signatures we looked at how major scales are constructed, with the pattern of tones and semitones being: T-T-S-T-T-T-S.
We also learnt about how the key signatures are constructed using the sharps of these scales.
If you are not familiar with these, it is best to go and recap these lessons and, if necessary, go through the free exercises provided.
There are three scales we will look at: A major; Bb major; and Eb major.
The A Major scale is below:
When we construct a scale starting on A, using the same rules used in the Scales letter, there are three notes which have to be sharpened:
F (turning into F#); C (turning into C#); and G (turning into G#);
This means we have a key signature with three sharps.
Make sure you remember the order of sharps in the key signature, it would be incorrect to write it in any other way.
Bb Major Scale
The Bb Major scale is below:
If we construct a scale from the Bb note, using the pattern: T-T-S-T-T-T-S, we would have the above scale.
Bb is the first scale that starts on a note with an accidental.
This isn’t unusual, there can be scales constructed that start on any note.
Bb major always has a Bb and Eb, which is shown in it’s key signature.
Eb Major Scale
The Eb Major Scale is below:
The Eb major, constructed in the same way as the other major scales, also starts on a note with an accidental.
It has three flats in the key signature: Bb, Eb and Ab.
As always, make sure you remember the way key signature is ordered, as ordering it any other way is wrong.
Tips for identifying keys from key signatures
Here is a few tips for methods of identifying what key something is in from the key signature.
This only works for major keys
If you have a key signature with sharps in it, have a look at the last sharp in the key signature.
In this case it is a G#, and is circled for your benefit.
To find out what key the key signature belongs to, simply go one semitone above that note.
In this instace, one semitone above G# is A. Meaning the key is A major.
This will work for all key signatures with sharps (again, only major keys!).
In the case of key signatures with flats, you can tell what key it belongs to by looking at the second to last flat symbol.
In the case of this key signature, the second to last flat is an Eb, and is circled for your convenience.
With flat key signatures, this second to last flat is always the key of the scale.
Therefore, with this key signature, the second to last flat in the key signature is Eb, meaning the key is in Eb.
However, this does only work for key signatures with more than one flat, so you can’t use it for F Major.
Once again, this only works for major keys!