Imagine we have guests from out of town – we have a bit of a party so they spend the night and the next morning I realize we have nothing for breakfast. I ask you – who’s phone is dead and on the charger – to go to the store for me. I need:
I ask you to repeat it back to me. You miss a few. I correct you – I ask again to repeat it – you miss one item. Third time you get it all correct.
Simple, yes? Easy even? That’s how easy it is to memorize your sharp keys!
“What? But that’s music theory! It’s hard! It’s even boring! I can’t do it!”
But you can. Get it out of your head that music theory is only for virtuosos and orchestra conductors. It’s easy. It can be applied in very complicated ways but the basics only require simple memorization.
The key of C is natural – no sharps no flats. It’s all the white keys on a piano.
Next, the key of G has one sharp, F#. F# is a half step below G, the name of the key. That is the pattern for all sharp keys.
Key of D has F# (because we build on the sharps that came before) and C# (a half step below D.
Key of A has F#, C# and G# (half step below A).
Key of E has F#, C#, G#, D#
Key of B has F#, C#, G#, D#, A#
Key of F# has F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E# (note: E# is a half step below F#)
Key of C# has F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B# or more simply, all sharps. Key of C is all natural, so the key of C# where the root gets bumped up a half step means all the notes get bumped up a half step.
So you memorize F, C, G, D, A, E, B – this is the order in which the sharps occur. F# is below G. C# is below D. G# is below A, etc.
In practical application, if you’re playing Jazz or Classical, you will need to know all your keys (I’ll talk about flat keys in the next post). But if you’re in a rock band or folk or country you will most likely need the keys of :
Most songs written by guitar players are in those keys. This is where most guitar players are comfortable. So prepare for the “worst” – memorize F-C-G-D-A-E-B but you’ll most likely use 5 of them. Note that if you build a chord on any of those 5, we have an open string chord for that.
So MEMORIZE IT! It is not hard.
And don’t forget the coffee!