Keys In Music
Musical Keys Theory
Here we explain what a key is in music. It is not necessary for the beginner to get themselves lost in this kind of theory so we won't bamboozle you, as long as you are aware how to identify a key that's all you need at this stage. If you really want to delve deeper this Wiki article may further explain.
What is a Key?
A key is a collection of notes that belong together in a scale and sound musically correct or harmonious when played together with each other in any order, playing a note that does not belong to a particular key will sound 'discordant' and stand out like a sore thumb, which may be okay in modern Jazz but not much else!
There are 12 keys, one for each step or note in the Chromatic scale.
Each of the twelve major scales will have a unique 'key signature' with a different number of either sharps or flats. (except C Major which has none)
The key signature appears right at the beginning of sheet music and it will indicate the musical key the piece is played in by showing x number of either sharp or flat symbols (# or b)
Usually sharp and flat notes are never mixed on the same sheet of music, if necessary, to keep the notation correct it may, for example indicate a 'double flat' note (bb) instead of what would be a sharp note.
By knowing your scales and how many flats are contained within them, you will immediately know what the key of the piece is.
A useful learning aid for seeing the relationship between keys, amongst other things, is the Circle of Fifths diagram.