You are here:

Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/Determining the # of sharps or flats in a song

Advertisement


Question
Hi Phil

How do I know how many sharps or flats are in a song Iím writing on the piano when I write it out by hand on sheet music? I'm getting confused because some notes I'm writing are accidentals. Meaning there a part of the song but are not mainly repeated sharp or flat notes like the others through out.

http://youtube.com/sterlthepearl1000/videos

Sterling

Answer
Hi Sterling:

There is a simple tool to help you remember the key signatures of both major and minor songs called the "cycle of fifths"

Imagine a clock face with C at the noon position. As you move clockwise, you add a sharp i.e.  

!o clock _ 1 sharp = G major
2          2 sharps  = D major
3          3 sharps = A major

and so on: 4# = E ma, 5# = B ma 6# =F# major


Starting with C@ noon, you can go COUNTERCLKWISE to do the same with the flat keys

12  =Cma = O
11 = Fma - 1 flat
10 = Bb ma = 2 flats
9=   3B = Eb ma
8  = 4b =Ab major
7 =-5b = Db major
6 = 6b =Gb ma ( the enharmonic equivalent of F# major )

You can find out the relative minor keys by starting with  A @ noon and following the same procedure. Here are some diagrams of this :

https://www.google.com/search?q=circle+of+fifths+chord+progression&biw=1168&bih=523&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=CwDdVN-lNdTfoATPwYHgDQ&ved=0CB0QsAQ

hope this  helps

Phil Kelly
philkelly music.com

Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting

All Answers


Answers by Expert:


Ask Experts

Volunteer


Phil Kelly

Expertise

I`m a semi-retired professional music arranger with over thirty five years in all phases of the commercial music production business. I can try to answer questions regarding music arranging, theory, orchestration , and/or composition for most acoustic ensembles .( jazz band or orchestral ) I can try to offer suggestions about studio music recording procedures and some basic MIDI applications , too. In the course of my career I`ve worked with such artists as Doc Severinsen and the old Tonight Show Band, Bill Watrous, Buddy Greco, John Gary, Mel Torme, Julius LaRosa, as well as the Pop programs of the Fort Worth, Dallas, North Carolina, and Houston Symphonies, as well as library music material for ABC, ESPN, and NFL Films.

©2016 About.com. All rights reserved.