Key Signatures

The clef is the first symbol on the staff. After the clef, there is the key signature.

Key Signatures

The key signatures are the sharps or flats found in a particular key of a music scale.

For example, the key of G major scale [G – A – B – C – D – E – F♯ – G] has one F Sharp. The signature of the key of G major has one sharp on the F.

G major and E minor key signatures
G major key signature

The key signature indicates that all of the F notes are sharp, and all other F notes in other octaves are also sharp.

If a natural symbol is placed to the left of one of the F note in one of the measure, that F note is played as a natural F note for the rest of the measure. After the measure ends, all F notes are to be played as F sharp again.

Because E minor is the relative minor of G major scale, the signature for the key of G major and E minor [E – F♯ – G – A – B – C – D – E] are the same.

If a key signature has no sharp or flat, it means that all notes are naturals.

c major and a minor key signatures
C major key signature

The C major [C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C] and A minor [A – B – C – D – E – F – G – A] keys contain only natural notes, they have no sharp or flat. C major and A minor have the same relative keys and share the same key signature because A minor is the relative minor of C major.


List of All Major / Minor Key Signatures

Key signature with no sharp or flat:
C major / A minor

Sharp Key Signatures:

G major / E minor has one sharp: F♯
D major / B minor has two sharps: F♯ – C♯
A major / F Sharp minor has three sharps: F♯ – C♯ – G♯
E major / C Sharp minor has four sharps: F♯ – C♯ – G♯ – D♯
B major / G Sharp minor has five sharps: F♯ – C♯ – G♯ – D♯ – A♯
F Sharp major / D Sharp minor has six sharps: F♯ – C♯ – G♯ – D♯ – A♯ – E♯
C Sharp major / A Sharp minor has seven sharps: F♯ – C♯ – G♯ – D♯ – A♯ – E♯ – B♯

The Sharp Key Signatures Chart:


The sharp key signatures chart displays all sharps key signatures. All sharps appear in the following order in all sharp key signatures:
F – C – G – D – A – E – B

order of sharps in sharp key signatures
F – C – G – D – A – E – B is the order of sharps in all sharp key signatures

For example, D major and it’s relative minor B minor have two sharps: F♯ and C♯. F Sharp is the first sharp meaning that it is always written before the C Sharp in the key signature:


Flat Key signatures:

F major / D minor has one flat: B♭
B Flat major / G minor has two flats: B♭ – E♭
E Flat major / C minor has three flats: B♭ – E♭ – A♭
A Flat major / F minor has four flats: B♭ – E♭ – A♭ – D♭
D Flat major / B Flat minor has five flats: B♭ – E♭ – A♭ – D♭ – G♭
G Flat major / E Flat minor has six flats: B♭ – E♭ – A♭ – D♭ – G♭ – C♭
C Flat major / A Flat minor has seven flats: B♭ – E♭ – A♭ – D♭ – G♭ – C♭ – F♭

flat key signatures chart

The Flat Key Signatures Chart:

The flat key signatures chart displays all flat key signatures. B – E – A – D – G – C – F is the order of flats in all flat key signatures. Notice that it is the backward of order of sharps [F – C – G – D – A – E – B].

order of flats in flat key signatures
B – E – A – D – G – C – F is the order of flats in all flat key signatures.

How to determine the key from the number of sharps or flats in a key signature?

Major key – a quick way to determine the major key from a sharp key signature is to raise the last position sharp by a half step to get the major key.

If the key signature has flats, the major key is the name of the second-to-last flat. The only exceptions to this rule are F major and C major, because F major key has only one flat and C major has no sharp or flat.

Minor key – Remember that each major key shares a key signature with a minor key. This minor key is called the relative minor of the major key. For example, E minor is the relative minor of G major, they have the same key signature because E minor and G major have the same relative keys.