Sharps and Flats

1. The order of sharps and flats:
Just to reiterate from the video, when sharps and flats appear in a key signature, they always do so in a
specific order.
For sharps, the order is:
F C G D A E B (clockwise round the circle of 5ths)
For flats, the order is:
B E A D G C F (anticlockwise around the circle of 5ths)
2. Reading Key Signatres:
As we noted in the video, the circle of 5ths can also be used to help us read key signatures - that is, to
see a written key signature and determine which key it signifies. his is simply a matter of counting the
points on the circle. !"#"#$"!, if the key signature is one that uses sharps then we count
clockwise from % &in the '( o)clock position* and if it is one that uses F+A, then we count
anticlockwise.
,o - imagine a key signature with - sharps. .e know that the sharps will be F! C and G &in that order*
so we will count - steps from %.
C to G " 1
G to D " 2
D to A " #
,o we can say that the key represented by # sharps is A $a%or.
+et)s try one with flats/ imagine a key signature with 0 flats. Again, we are simply going to count 0
steps round the circle of 5ths anticlockwise &because we)re dealing with flats* from %. his time we
get...
C to F " 1
F to B& " 2
B& to E& " #
E& to A& " '
A& to D& " (
D& to G& " )
,o, the key represented by ) flats is G& $a%or.
ry this yourself and see how you get on. 1t is pretty simple when you get the hang of it - 2ust
remember to always count from % and to go clockwise for sharps and anticlockwise for flats.
!emember, you will 3"4"! have a key signature containing sharps and flats.
#. *riting Key Signatres
.e can use the circle of 5ths to help us write key signatures too - it)s really 2ust the reverse of what we
have 2ust noted above. ,o, if someone asks you to write the key signature for 5 ma2or, you would
simply count the steps from % until you get to 5:
C + G " 1
G + D " 2
,o, 5 is ( steps around the circle of 5ths from % - we know that the number of steps away from % tells
us how many sharps &or flats* we need - therefore, 5 re6uires ( sharps. .e know the order of sharps
to &e F C G D A E B so if the key signature needs two sharps we use the first (.
,o, 5 ma2or needs F7 and %78
$b %
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!elative minor is the )th degree of the scale