how to determine the key of tunes

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by BYRDMAN, Jan 23, 2009.



    Jan 16, 2009
    hello fellow bassists,
    tyring to learn what key a tune is in from the key signature
    i brought this theory book and its not helping at all.
    i need to get to this fast!
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    It might also be a good idea to turn your capslock off if you want people to be helpful.


    Seems like things are quiet around here all of a sudden! Haven't seen any posts from the usual suspects lately:meh:
  4. jstiel

    jstiel Jim Stiel

    Jun 5, 2004
    Lake Orion, MI
    Starting at C, move one fourth step and add a flat for each step: F=one flat, Bb=two flats, Eb=three flats, etc.

    Starting again at C, move one fifth step and add one sharp for each step: G=one sharp, D=two sharps, A=three sharps, etc.
  5. Menacewarf


    Mar 9, 2007
    I know Trey.... It troubles.

    To the OP. Check the number of sharps or flats for the most basic look.
  6. Greg Clinkingbeard

    Greg Clinkingbeard Commercial User

    Apr 4, 2005
    Kansas City area
    Black Dog Bass Works
    Or...........just go down a fourth. Up a fourth, think flats. Down a fourth, think sharps.
    This will give you the Major key.
    Each Major key has a relative Minor which is a minor third below.

    Example: C Major = A Minor (no sharps or flats). The ending chord will help define the key.
  7. Here is exactly what you need to know, if you learn this, you'll always be able to tell what key signiture something is:

    Now, if you want to write out a key, but can't remember the flats/sharps, here's another thing that will help (although it sounds dumb, but it works...):

    For sharps the order is
    F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#
    Now it helps to have something to memorize it by, and I was taught to use this rhyme:
    Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle (yes, weird rhyme, but there's a reason which you'll see in a minute!)

    Ok, and the order of the flats is:
    Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb, Fb
    Now, here's the rhyme you can remember it by:
    Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles Father

    So, obviously the rhyme is just used backwards, and works pretty well. It's the only one I know that works for both flats and sharps.

    Hope that helps.