A series of notes forming a major or minor scale; tonality; also, the levers on a keyboard instrument.

Key Signature - Sharps and Flats

Key Signature - Sharps and Flats

(1) A mechanical contrivance for closing or opening ventages, as in flutes, clarinets, ophicleides, etc. By means of keys on such instruments, apertures too remote to be reached by the outstretched fingers are brought under control of the player.
(2) A lever which brings the pallets of an organ under the control of the hand or foot of an organist.
(3) A lever which controls the striking apparatus of a key-stringed instrument. In the harpsichord it acted on the jack, in the pianoforte it acts on the hammer.
(4) The wrest or key used for tuning instruments having metal pegs. Its end is hollowed out, so as to fit over the four-sided end of the peg, and the crossbar with which it is surmounted gives leverage to the hand of the tuner, so that he is enabled to tighten or loosen a string, or (in the case of a drum) slacken or strain a parchment.
(5) The sign placed at the commencement of the musical stave which shows the pitch of the notes, was originally called a clavis or key. This sign is called in modern music a clef.
(6) Key, in its modern sense, is the starting point of the definite series of sounds which form the recognised scale. Different starting points require the relative proportion of the steps of the scale to be maintained by means of sharps or flats in the signature. The key of C requires no flats or sharps for this purpose, hence it is called normal (diatonic) key. [Stainer, John; Barrett, W.A.; A Dictionary of Musical Terms; Novello, Ewer and Co., London, pre-1900]

Key Chord
The common chord of the tonic, e.g., C, E, G is the key-chord of C.

Key Note
"The note which, according to the signature, forms the starting point of the scale. The tonic. The do." [Stainer, John; Barrett, W.A.; A Dictionary of Musical Terms; Novello, Ewer and Co., London, pre-1900]

"Music, pure, natural, and harmonical, in the true and evident sense of the term, is the division of any keynote, or starting-point, into it's integral and ultimate parts, and the descending divisions will always answer to the ascending, having reference to the general whole. The essence and mystery in the development of harmonies consists in the fact that every keynote, or unit, is a nucleus including the past, the present, and the future, having in itself an inherent power, with a tendency to expand and contract. In the natural system, as each series rises, its contents expand and fall back to the original limit from any point ascending or descending; we cannot perceive finality in any ultimate; every tone is related to higher and lower tones; and must be part of an organized whole." - F. J. Hughes, Harmonies of Tones and Colours - Developed by Evolution, page 16

Key Scales

C MajorC D E F G A B C
Dorian Mode D E F G A B C D
A Minor A B C D E F G A
A Harmonic Minor A B C D E F G# A
Ab Major Ab Bb C Db Eb F G Ab
A Major A B C# D E F# G# A
B Major B C# D# E F# G# A# B
Bb Bb C D Eb F G A Bb
D D E F# G A B C# D
Db Major Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C Db
Eb Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb
E Major E F# G# A B C# D# E
F Major F G A Bb C D E F
F# Major F# G# A# B C# D# E# F
G Major G A B C D E F# G
Gb Major Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F Gb

Key Signature
Sharps or flats placed at the beginning of a composition to indicate its key.

See Also

Overtone series
Neutral Center
Law of Assimilation

Page last modified on Sunday 09 of October, 2016 04:00:42 MDT

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