Saturday, October 17, 2009

Key signatures 4152637

Yesterday night came the most favorite part of the theory class, it was about key signatures. It was pretty tough to those true beginners. As I said music theory is in fact a language class so the teacher said just memorize it, like grammar, don't ask.

At the end I was asked to share my way of memorizing it. Before I share it here I searched the Internet to see in fact if I was actually taught or it was developed wholly on my own. I declare I couldn't find any music theory books from my childhood every time I moved house, I have only preserved guitar sheetmusic (that I painfully saved money to buy) and even few lines of music that I wrote when it was too boring in school. In secondary school I also can't recall being taught any music theory, what I have learned I really don't know.

From Internet using the keywords "memorize key signautres", there are few ways found. Circle of the Fifths (another one here) is very popular and even a clock is available if you don't trust your brain. In forum threads you'll find many home brewed inventions such as this for FCGDAEB
Fat Chicks Get Drunk At Every Bar


Father Christmas Gave Dad An Electric Blanket
Blanket Exploded And Dad Got Cold Feet

or this one about

Father Charles Goes Down and Ends Battle

There is one I found which is fairly close to my way with a little mathematical favour, still you have to remember BEAD.

I am so dumb I would be bored to death if I had to really fo through all these words to learn this.

Here comes my way, can't wait!

Now remember one string of numbers, not just 7, it's 4152637 and it's not four million one hundred fifty two thousand six hundred and thirty seven. It's a code, like your login password, code to your building entrance, ebanking account password, phone number of your first love or student number given to you 30 years ago ... or whatever. To me this is easier to memorize why Father Charles had a war to fight. [edited: now try typing these digits on a keyboard, not from the number pad you'll know it's not difficult to remember]

What's next? Just remember that sharp is from left to right and flat, of course is from right to left in opposite direction, again you know it, can't be anything else.

4 1 5 2 6 3 7

Is it obvious enough that C=1, D=2 ... and so on since you see only figures from 1 to 7, OK you know that, don't ask why!

From the sharp end first # to put on the stave is 4(F) the key signature for that is adding 1 to it, i.e. 5(G), simple right? To get E(3) major you need 3-1=2 so look up 2 on this big number you'll need 4152, i.e. 4 # in the sequence of F(4) C(1) G(5) D(2), got it? If you have 2 sharps, i.e. 4(F) and 1(C) you'll end up in 1+1=2 which is a D major. Now don't forget, as teacher reminded me, when you have many sharps, say 6 of them 415263, you'll get 3 (last digit of this long number) + 1=4(F) which is F# major because the F(4) is a sharp already.

Now working in reverse direction for the flat. The first b on the stave is 7(B), that's the 7 on the right hand end of this string of numbers, if you need 2 flats there will be 7(B) and 3(E) and so on. You know that key signature with one flat is F you deduce that by adding 1 to the number before 7, which is 3 therefore 3+1=4(F). Bingo as simple as that! So when you have 2 flats, 7(B) and 3(E) you'll be having a 6+1=7(B) Bb major with 6 being the digit before 3 in reverse direction.

The teacher said almost half of the questions for Grade 5 exam will be about key signatures so I think I could attend that tomorrow!

1 comment:

  1. Hello,
    Interesting, I`ll quote it on my site later.