Key Signatures

A. What is a key signature?

  • In musical notation, a key signature is a series of sharp symbols or flat symbols placed on the staff, designating notes that are to be played one semitone higher or lower unless otherwise noted with an accidental.
  • Key signatures are generally written immediately after the clef at the beginning of a line of musical notation, although they can appear in other parts of a score, usually after a double bar.
  • In music, sharp means higher in pitch. More specifically, in musical notation, sharp means "higher in pitch by a semitone," and has an associated symbol which looks somewhat like a "#" (number sign).
  • In music, flat means "lower in pitch." More specifically, in music notation, flat means "lower in pitch by a semitone," and has an associated symbol, which looks like a lowercase "b”
  • For example, here is what a B Major scale looks like written with accidentals:
  • Here is what the same scale looks like using the key signature:
B. Let’s play Old MacDonald Had A Farm

• This song is in G Major. It has one sharp: F #.
• This song is in 4/4 time.
• Make sure that you hold the dotted half notes and whole notes out for their entire value!