Working out the notes in a Key Signature for composition, practice, a deeper understanding or for just fun – Part 3

Working out the notes in a Key Signature for composition, practice, a deeper understanding or for just fun – Part 3
29th November 2011 Shane

Examples and Ideas

 

So let’s say we needed to work out the notes in the key of Eb:

 

First we write out the standard alphabet from E to E:

 

E

F

G

A

B

C

D

E

 

We know from memorising the first seven notes of the Cycle of 4ths, that the E is in position 3, which means it has three flats.

 

We now go to the third position in the mnemonic to find out which notes are affected;

 

“Battle Ends And”

 

And we now know which notes need to be flattened, the third position mnemonic and everything that precedes it. So our flats are Bb Eb and Ab, this gives us the notes in the key of Eb, lets add them in.

 

Eb

F

G

Ab

Bb

C

D

Eb

 

Obviously in the above example we knew the E was flat, as we were working out the key of Eb, I didn’t add it in on purpose to show you the method to use to work out any key signature.

 

The last example was from the cycle of fourths, let’s do an example using the cycle of 5ths, say we wanted to work out the notes in the key of B. As above, first we write out the standard alphabet from B to B.

 

B

C

D

E

F

G

A

B

 

Now from committing the cycle of fifths to memory we know that B is in position 5, so we know it has 5 sharps, so we go to the 5th position of the mnemonic;

 

“Father, Charles, Goes, Down And”.

 

As above we now know which notes need to be sharpened, the fifth position mnemonic and everything that precedes it. So we have F#, C#, G#, D# and A#, lets add them in.

 

B

C#

D#

E

F#

G#

A#

B

 

Ideas.

Note: once you have the technique, you can easily work out key signatures in your head, and this technique will come in handy for harmonising chords, composition, figuring out what key a particular song is in, finding interval names, building chords, working out what that cool chord is you found while jamming, and lots more.

 

Why not work out a few different key signatures, or even write them all out, or you could practice working them out in your head, if you do work them out in your head, then I would suggest you have your guitar in your hand when you first start, as you can use this as a tool to help you navigate through different keys, make sure you watch your fingers, this will help you when you start to work out, what the key signatures are without your guitar, by visualising them in your mind, if you find it hard to visualise then imagine seeing the notes in your mind, either written down on a bit of paper, or seeing your fingers playing the notes on your fretboard.

 

You could also work out key signatures then harmonise them as you go, by playing the chords associated with the scale degrees on your guitar, either for real or virtually in your mind, the more you practice visualisation techniques the better you will get.

 

So to play a harmonised B major scale, play these chords.

 

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

VII

M

m

m

M

M

m

Dim

M

B

C#m

D#m

E

F#

G#m

A#Dim

B

 

To play a harmonised Eb major scale, play these chords.

 

I

II

III

IV

V

VI

VII

VII

M

m

m

M

M

m

Dim

M

Eb

Fm

Gm

Ab

Bb

Cm

DDim

Eb

 

The order of chords never changes, no matter what key you are in, so you can apply this idea to any key.

 

You could also practice advanced note finding, by working out a key and then playing through it as a Major Scale, without using patterns, locate the correct notes and name them out loud as you play through your chosen key. This technique would also be a very good candidate for visualisation.

 

Part 1 – Introduction | Part 2 What you Need to Know

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When I’m not developing or expanding my knowledge in graphic design or programming…

I enjoy playing the guitar, watching horror films, astronomy, snorkeling, the study of hypnosis & NLP and I really enjoy Vaping and all thats involved, including making coils and e-liquid.

2 Comments

  1. Edward Hughes 3 years ago

    Hello,

    Is there a way to change the key or tonic when working on the CAGED system? I.E., say I wanted to see it in ‘A’ (with the ‘A’shape obviously being first). Can this be done?

    • ScaleViz 3 years ago

      Hi Edward, All you need to do is change the root, the A shape does not necessarily have to be the first shape, it depends where you want to start on your fretboard, however in the key of A, the first shape would be the A shape then the patterns repeat in order so after the A shape would be the G shape, then the E shape, then D, then C, then back to A again, where your root would be at the 12th fret on the A string, check out ScaleViz for a detailed overview of using the CAGED systems built around octave shapes and you will be navigating your fretboard with ease.

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