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  • Writer's pictureTom Glasson

Grade 1:11 - Keys & Key Signatures

As we saw in the last section, each scale has different sharps or flats.

These notes from the scales also make their key signature. Music is written within a key signature, this means the notes used in the piece are taken from that key (of course there are exceptions). To make the music cleaner, we don’t write the sharp or flat symbols every time they come up, instead, we write the key signature at the start of the music, and every time that note occurs in the music, it will be the ‘sharp’ or ‘flat’.

So, in G the key signature will have an F# (same as the scale). This means an F# is played in place of F every time, unless told otherwise (with the natural symbol). In D, we have the F# and C#, and so on - look back at lesson 10 if you want to go over the scales.

G Major Key Signature

Writing the key signatures

Key signatures are drawn in specific positions,

The F# is drawn here on the top line, not in the

bottom gap, even though this is also an F.

As we saw earlier, the sharp keys occur in a specific order (First the key of G, with one sharp the F#. Then the key of D, with two sharps, the same F#, then the C#).

D Major Key Signature

The key signatures are always written in the same order, from left to right, the F# is drawn first, then C# is added for D major. When we come across other sharp keys in later grades, they will always start with these two sharps.

The flat keys work in a similar way to the sharps, we only need the first one for grade one, which is F major with B flat. This is drawn on the middle line.

F Major Key Signature

Every other flat key will start with this Bb and build on from there.

We also have to remember where the sharps and flats are written in the bass clef.

Here are all the key signatures for grade 1. Note where the sharps and flats are written in each clef.

All the key signatures for Grade 1 music theory in treble and bass clefs.
Key Signatures for Grade 1 Music Theory

If you want more information or context on key signatures, we have a video lesson which you can watch here. This covers all key signatures, it is far more advanced than you need for Grade 1, but gives you a good understanding of the system as a whole, I think you'll get a lot out of it.

Next: Lesson 12 - Intervals

A Free Gift for you...

Download the Grade 1 Music Theory Workbook - An Introduction to Music Theory for free. The workbook is a written course which teaches you the entire content of Grade 1 music theory from start to finish, it is the full written version of our video course. It contains activities, with answers, to test your knowledge and give you chance to practice what you are learning.

There are 19 sections, covering every topic as well as reference sheets and materials which will come in handy as you study.

Click here to check it out.

Introduction to Music Theory Workbook

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