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Playing the Piano or Keyboard: All the Key Signatures

If you hope to be a piano or keyboard player, you need to know the key signatures. Here’s a rundown of the major and natural minor key signatures and a couple of octaves’ worth of notes in those keys, arranged in a scale. (The key signatures are ordered following the Circle of Fifths instead of alphabetical order.)

1

C major

As you can see, the C major and the A natural minor have the same key signature (that is, no sharps and no flats) and the same notes in the scale because A is the relative natural minor of C.

2

A natural minor

The only difference is that the C major scale starts on C, whereas the A natural minor scale starts on A.

3

G major

You’ve now added one sharp (F) to the key signature.

4

E natural minor

The next stop (D) has two, and you keep adding one more sharp until you get to the bottom of the Circle of Fifths.

5

D major

Here’s the D major Key signature.

6

B natural minor

Now, you have the B natural minor key signature and scale.

7

A major

Give the A major key signature a try.

8

F sharp natural minor

Now, you see the F sharp natural minor key signature, A’s relative natural minor.

9

E major

Here’s the E major key signature.

10

C sharp natural minor

Take a look at the C sharp natural minor key signature, E’s relative natural minor.

11

B/C flat major

Here, you see the B major key signature and C flat major key signature.

12

G sharp/A flat natural minor

Now, you see the G sharp natural minor key signature and the A flat natural minor key signature. Confused by the double naming here? Take a look at a keyboard, and you see that a black key doesn’t exist for C flat.

Instead, you see a white key: B. C flat and B are enharmonic equivalents of one another, meaning they’re the same but with different names. All the notes in the key of B major and the key of C flat major sound exactly the same — they just use different musical notation. The same goes for G sharp natural minor and A flat natural minor — same notes, just different notation.

As the number of sharps has been going up by one at each stop on the Circle of Fifths, from this point on, the number of flats will be going down by one until returning to the 12 o’clock (C major/A natural minor) position.

13

F sharp/G flat major

Check out the F sharp major key signature and the G flat major key signature.

14

D sharp/E flat natural minor

Here, you see the D sharp natural minor key signature and the E flat natural minor key signature. More enharmonic equivalents!

15

C sharp major/D flat

This is the C sharp major key signature and the D flat major key signature.

16

A sharp/B flat natural minor

Here is the A sharp natural minor key signature and the B flat natural minor key signature.

These are the last of the enharmonic equivalent key signatures you have to remember. Also, these are the last of the keys with sharps in their signatures. From this point on, you’re working with flats alone as you continue going up the left side of the Circle of Fifths.

17

A flat major and F natural minor

This illustrates the A flat major key signature. and the F natural minor key signature, which is A flat’s relative natural minor.

18

E flat major and C natural minor

Here, you see the E flat major key signature and the C natural minor key signature, which is E flat’s relative natural minor.

19

B flat major and G natural minor

You guessed it! This is the B flat major key signature and the G natural minor key signature, which is B flat’s relative natural minor.

20

F major and D natural minor

Here’s the F major key signature and the D natural minor key signature, which is F major’s relative natural minor.

 
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