Understanding Key Signatures
A key signature expresses the key of a song by displaying which notes have sharps or flats, if any. It is written as a pattern of accidentals at the beginning of a staff, after the clef and before the time signature.
Key signatures imply accidentals throughout a song, so its sharps or flats will not be marked in the body of the music; you must memorize which notes have accidentals by familiarizing yourself with the key signature. However, accidentals that don’t belong to the key will be marked, but expire in the following measure unless carried over with a tie.
- Look at the first staff, above: A natural sign turns the key’s C sharp into a C, but the note turns back into a C# in the next measure, even if unmarked as such. The same concept applies to double-accidentals.
Continue With Key Signatures:
► Outline of the 15 Key Signatures
► Interactive Key Signature Locator
► What Are Relative Keys?
► Take the Key Signature Quiz!
See More Musical Symbols:
■Staff & Barlines ■Note Lengths ■Articulation Marks ■Repeat Signs
■The Grand Staff ■Dotted Notes ■Dynamics & Volume ■Segno & Coda Signs
■Time Signatures ■Accidentals ■Key Signatures ■Pedal Marks
■Tempo Commands ■Piano Chords ■Music Rests ■8va & Octave Commands