Key Signature Chart

A superbly crafted version of this cornerstone of music theory. 2 pages.


Product Description

Download pdf for the Key Signature Chart. Identify your key signatures quickly with our color-coded reference chart. Each key signature follows the circle of fifths and shows both its major key and relative minor key. 2 pages.


What is a key signature chart?

A key signature chart is a visual reference that displays all the key signatures used in music, showing the specific sharps or flats that define each key. This chart is a handy tool for musicians, educators, and students, helping them to quickly identify, understand, and memorize the key signatures associated with both major and minor scales.

Here's what our free, downloadable Key Signature Chart includes:
List of Major Keys: The chart shows each major key, accompanied by its corresponding set of sharps or flats. It usually starts with C major (which has no sharps or flats) and progresses through keys with increasing sharps or flats.
List of Minor Keys: Similarly, the chart includes all the minor keys, each paired with its respective key signature. Since each minor key shares its key signature with its relative major, the chart often places each minor key alongside its relative major for easy comparison.
Order of Sharps and Flats: The chart often illustrates the order in which sharps and flats appear in key signatures. The order of sharps is F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#, and the order of flats is Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb, Fb.
By referring to our Key Signature Chart, musicians can quickly determine the key of a piece of music, understand the relationship between different keys, and navigate the use of accidentals in their performances or compositions.

How many key signatures are there in Western music theory?

In Western music theory, there are a total of 15 key signatures. Each major key has a relative minor key that shares the same key signature. The list below has each major key listed with its corresponding relative minor key, indicating the shared key signature in terms of sharps or flats. Here's the breakdown:

C Major - A Minor: 0 sharps or flats
G Major - E Minor: 1 sharp
D Major - B Minor: 2 sharps
A Major - F# Minor: 3 sharps
E Major - C# Minor: 4 sharps
B Major - G# Minor: 5 sharps
F# Major - D# Minor: 6 sharps
C# Major - A# Minor: 7 sharps

F Major - D Minor: 1 flat
Bb Major - G Minor: 2 flats
Eb Major - C Minor: 3 flats
Ab Major - F Minor: 4 flats
Db Major - Bb Minor: 5 flats
Gb Major - Eb Minor: 6 flats
Cb Major - Ab Minor: 7 flats

What is the easiest way to identify a key signature?

In addition to using our Key Signature Chart, easy ways to identify a key signature is by using some of simple rules for sharps and flats. Here's how:

For Sharps:
Identify the last sharp. Look at the last sharp in the key signature. Move up one half step; the note a half step above the last sharp is the key for major scales.
For instance, if the last sharp is F#, the key is G major because G is a half step above F#.

For Flats: Identify the next-to-last flat. For flat key signatures (except for F major), the next-to-last flat is the key for major scales. If you see Bb and Eb as flats, the key is Bb major because Bb is the next-to-last flat.
F Major Exception: If there's only one flat (Bb), the key is F major.

For Minor Keys:
To find the relative minor key:
It begins on the note a minor third (three half steps) down from the major key. For G major (one sharp), three half steps down from G is E, so E minor is the relative minor.
For Bb major, three half steps down from Bb is G, so G minor is the relative minor.

Quick Reference for major keys:
No sharps or flats in the key signature: C major or A minor.
Sharps in the key signature: look at the last sharp, then go up a half step.
Flats in the key signature: the next-to-last flat is the name of the key (except when there's only one flat, which indicates F major).

What is the most common key signature?

The most common key signatures in music can vary depending on the genre and context. However, some key signatures are more prevalent due to their ease of play on common instruments or their facility with vocal ranges:

C Major/A Minor: These key signatures have no sharps or flats, making them very common, especially for beginners. C Major is particularly favored for its simplicity on the piano, while A Minor is its relative minor key, sharing the same key signature.

G Major/E Minor: G Major, with one sharp (F#), is another popular key signature, especially for string instruments like the violin and guitar. E Minor is its relative minor, sharing the same key signature.

D Major/B Minor: D Major, with two sharps, is frequently used in string music, piano pieces, and many other instruments. B Minor is its relative minor.

F Major/D Minor: F Major, with one flat (Bb), is common because it's relatively simple to play on many instruments. D Minor, its relative minor, also sees frequent use.

In popular music, rock, and blues, E Major and A Major are also quite common due to their compatibility with the guitar's standard tuning.

In jazz, flat keys like Bb Major and Eb Major are often used because they align well with the natural pitch tendencies of many brass and wind instruments.

Overall, the "most common" key signature can vary based on the musical context, the instrument, and even the historical period of the music. We include all key signatures on our Key Signature Chart so musicians can learn all keys.

Product Details

PDF/Digital Print