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F C G D A E B - order of sharps/key signatures

(23 Posts)
roisin Fri 29-Jul-11 18:46:09

When I was learning music theory I learned a mnemonic to remember these:
Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle.

At the time I thought it was a pretty rubbish mnemonic.

Do you know a better one?
or can you make one up?

LawrieMarlow Fri 29-Jul-11 18:47:40

I think it's pretty good. And works the other way for flats as well smile

RunAwayHome Fri 29-Jul-11 19:08:14

I think it's a great mnemonic too because it works both ways round, like Lawrie said. It might not be a fantastic sentence by itself, but there aren't that many palindromic mnemonics!!

Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father

IHeartKingThistle Fri 29-Jul-11 19:14:36

I had

Farmer Charles Goes Down And Eats Breakfast.

For the pacifists I guess! LOVE that the other one works backwards though - all I had was BEAD which is not even complete!

roisin Fri 29-Jul-11 19:22:40

I've been googling and found
Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Bananas

I like this much better.

confidence Fri 29-Jul-11 21:04:20

Fat Charlie Gets Drunk And Eats Bananas

But as others have mentioned, yours has the benefit of working backwards for flats.

cupofteainpeace Wed 03-Aug-11 21:25:30

I use Father Charles - because it is practical, also Father Christmas Gave David An Empty Box, or if children are struggling, then Fish and Chips, or Father Christmas for sharps, and BEAD for flats.

mumblecrumble Wed 03-Aug-11 21:33:15

it might be pants... but you rememebr it don;t you? Hee hee...

I teach A level music - key signatures are.... well.

kazmus Wed 03-Aug-11 21:42:39

battle ends every time! Push the last sharp in a key sig up a semitone to name key, drop the last flat back one to name flat keys...simples!!

LawrieMarlow Wed 03-Aug-11 21:58:29

I had never realised about naming the keys from the amount of flats/sharps. Although of course you do need to know F major has B flat of course.

Wouldn't work for minor keys though I suppose.

mablemurple Wed 03-Aug-11 22:15:36

I'm trying to teach myself to play the piano and am working my way through a book on music theory, but I don't understand this at all blush. Why is there an "order" for sharps? Why do you start with F# and not (middle) C#?

roisin Wed 03-Aug-11 22:50:45

mablemurple - it's just the order that the mathematics and patterns of western music work.

Each major scale has the same pattern of tones and semi tones, which we organise in this way.

With the "sharp scales" the 'first' scale is C major, with no sharps.
The next key (FCGDAEB) has just one sharp, F#. The key is one semi tone above - G major.
The next key has two sharps F# and C#. The key is one semi tone above - D major.
... and so on.

The sharps written in the key signature are also written in this order.

You will notice that the order of these scales is in perfect 5ths.
So the first scale is C.
Perfect 5th above is G = second scale.
Perfect 5th above G is D = 3rd scale.

roisin Wed 03-Aug-11 22:51:19

Does that help? Music theory is difficult to learn in isolation, but if you are also studying an instrument and playing music and scales it tends to all fall into place.

mymumdom Wed 03-Aug-11 22:55:54

Kazmus, can you go over what you said using examples please?
I think I understand what you mean but I want to be sure, because it looks incredibly useful!!!

roisin Wed 03-Aug-11 23:02:25

Mymumdom - what she says is, look at the key signature and name the last sharp.
eg a key signature of 4 sharps, the last sharp is D#. If you push this up one semitone, you get E. E major is therefore the key for the scale with 4 sharps.

roisin Wed 03-Aug-11 23:04:02

For flat signatures it works slightly differently.
The penultimate flat in the key signature is the name of the key.
So if you look at a key signature with 3 flats, the flats are B, E, A.
the name of the key or scale is Eflat.

mymumdom Wed 03-Aug-11 23:07:09

Ahh- any tips for working out minors apart from the 3 semi tone thing?
My head hurts after doing that too many times!

mablemurple Wed 03-Aug-11 23:16:18

Thanks roisin - i'm not sure I do understand it entirely - have just read about intervals and will probably have to reread that chapter, but it is slowly sinking in!

LittlePushka Wed 03-Aug-11 23:29:25


roisin Wed 03-Aug-11 23:45:44

3 semitones for minors is all I know/do I think.

Are you learning an instrument too?
Theory is quite dry if studied in isolation, but in conjunction with practice it all comes together and makes sense.

So you can "work out" the keys/scales using the methods described above, but having played lots of pieces after a while you will find you "just know" the keys/scales for at least 8 majors and minors. So then you would only ever need to work out the obscure ones!

ds2 (12) is doing music theory and very much combines it with his practical work. He might play a chord - from a piece or just made up and will say "that's an interesting one. What chord is that? If he can't get it, we work it out together."

Or he spots the key changes in the music he is singing.

He talks about theory a lot when he is practising, which is ideal I think for really embedding the knowledge in a real way.

mymumdom Thu 04-Aug-11 09:00:42

Yes, am learning piano, (just) passed grade 5 last year, hence the intention to do grade V theory.
I did up to grade 2 as a child, but no theory and then when my eldest started piano lessons, I had an urge to start up again. So I did and started off on grade 4, still no theory though.
My DD's are learning theory as they go- a MUCH better way to do it!

BrigitBigKnickers Tue 30-Aug-11 00:08:49

Here's one I found useful for key signitures.
Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle
for the order of sharps(left to right) and the order of flats (right to left)
Then use:

GooD AlE BeeF

Go left to right for the sharp keys- G has 1# (F- Father)
D has 2# (Father Charles) A has 3# (Father Charles Goes)etc. until you get to F# (F C G D A E B)

Then go from right to left.
F (1flat the B in Battle)
Bb 2 flats (the B in Battle and the E in Ends)
Eb 3 flats (the B in Battle E in Ends and A in And)

lindamoore Tue 30-Aug-11 10:45:47

Hi Marblemurple !

Yes ... music theory can be really difficult but it need not be. All my three children have studied with a great teacher who has helped them understand it really well. They love it now. Have you ever considered taking one to one lessons in the subject ? My children have worked with a Danish tutor called Louise. If you want her details just let me know. She is based in London - not sure where you are. My friend's husband even studied with her so he could teach their own children. He loved it too !! Just a thought ....

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