19 September, 2006

overheard about music in our CM bookclub

When reading a score of sheet music or in a hymnal, you want to know what key the song is in so that you'll know what key to play or what pitch to blow on the pitch pipe, or which tuning fork to use. I grew up singing hymns without instruments, and by shape notes. I knew that I was an alto by the age of 8. I was in multiple singing groups and classes growing up!

I was also in band from the fourth grade through college, playing the flute and bassoon, (and as an adult, vocals and percussion instruments with a band). This is a memory trick that was taught to me by my dad, who also taught whole youth groups to sight sing (a capella).

If there is one sharp in the key signature, the song is in G
If there are two sharps, the song is in D
three sharps - A
four sharps - E
five sharps - B
six sharps - F#
seven sharps - C#

So the memory trick sentnece is: God Destroyed All Earth By Flood, Charlie.

(do note that the sharps as they appear in order in the key sig. from left to right are: F#,C#,G#,D#,A#,E#,B# and you'd have to have a different device to remember that by)

For the flats in the key signature~If there is only:
One flat - the key of the song is in F
two flats - Bb
three flats - Eb
four flats - Ab
five flats - Db
six flats - Gb
seven flats - Cb

So the memory sentence is: For Being Evil And Disobeying God, Charlie.

(note that the flats appear in this order from left to right in the key sig. Bb,Eb,Ab,Db,Gb,Cb,Fb)

Of course, the key of C has no flats and no sharps. That you just have to remember on your own.

A neat interactive website for testing your key signature skills is

(let me know if you see typos.)


1 comment:

Queen Shenaynay said...

Thanks for posting it, Kim! I'm going to link this at The Beehive because scads of shape note singers visit there.

The meeting Monday was terrific. I'm loving my new woobie mug, too. It's presently full of hot chai. ;-)