Alright, so I've been trying to understand this for some time, and nowhere I've looked has given me an answer. I'm always hearing people talking about playing in the key of ___, the thing I don't understand is, how do I know what notes fit into a key? Is it just the notes from the Major Scale?

Also, With the Circle of Fifths, I know that it shows you how many sharps and flats are in a certain key, but how do I know which notes are sharps/flats?
Not a huge fan of bees
If something is in the key of G, you can play the G major scale over it. If something is in the key of Bbminor, you can play the Bb minor scale over it.

With the circle of fifths you see how many sharps/flats there are. There's an order for those flats that you go through.

Order of sharps: F# C# G# D# A# E# B#

Order of flats: Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb Fb

So what we can do with this, for example the piece is in E major. We look up E major in the CoF and we see that it has 4 sharps, we look at the order of sharps and we see F#, C#, G# and D#. Therefore, the E major scale becomes E F# G# A B C# D#!

If we look at something like a piece in C minor, we can see that C minor has 3 flats. Looking at the order of flats: Bb Eb and Ab. So, the C minor scale has C D Eb F G Ab Bb as notes

If, for some reason your CoF doesn't show the minor keys next to the major keys.. Remember there's a thing called 'relative minor/major'. This basically means that those specific major and minor scale have the same flats/sharps. For example, A minor and C major have the same notes. To go from relative minor to relative major, go up one and a half tone (3 frets on a guitar). From relative major to relative minor, go down one and a half tone.
The "Popped Collar" Award(Sexiest)
Elvenkindje

The "Rest In Real Life" Award(Best Past MT Mod)
Elvenkindje
Circle of Fifths:
``````C  - 0 sharps - C   D   E   F   G   A   B  | C
G  - 1 sharp  - G   A   B   C   D   E   F# | G
D  - 2 sharps - D   E   F#  G   A   B   C# | D
A  - 3 sharps - A   B   C#  D   E   F#  G# | A
E  - 4 sharps - E   F#  G#  A   B   C#  D# | E
-----------------------------------------------
B  - 5 sharps - B   C#  D#  E   F#  G#  A# | B
F# - 6 sharps - F#  G#  A#  B   C#  D#  E# | F#
C# - 7 sharps - C#  D#  E#  F#  G#  A#  B# | C#``````
Notice how for each key, the added sharp note is the note RIGHT BEFORE the root note. (IE. For G, F#. For A, G#)

---

Circle of Fourths
``````C  - 0 flats  - C   D   E   F   G   A   B  | C
F  - 1 flat   - F   G   A   Bb  C   D   E  | F
Bb - 2 flats  - Bb  C   D   Eb  F   G   A  | Bb
Eb - 3 flats  - Eb  F   G   Ab  Bb  C   D  | Eb
Ab - 4 flats  - Ab  Bb  C   Db  Eb  F   G  | Ab
-----------------------------------------------
Db - 5 flats  - Db  Eb  F   Gb  Ab  Bb  C  | Db
Gb - 6 flats  - Gb  Ab  Bb  Cb  Db  Eb  F  | Db
Cb - 7 flats  - Cb  Db  Eb  Fb  Gb  Ab  Bb | Cb``````
Notice how for each key, the added flat note is the PERFECT FOURTH from the root note. (IE. for F, Bb. For Ab, Db)

NB:
B + Cb | F# + Gb | C# + Db - These are all enharmonic so can be substituted for each other.
Last edited by ChrisN at Jul 12, 2008,
So with the Circle of Fifths, if I know E has 4 Sharps, I follow this (F# C# G# D# A# E# B#) formula, and take the first 4, and those are the 4 sharps in the E Major Scale?

Would that be a basic Synopsis?

And if a song were to be in the Key of E, does that mean the notes E F# G# A B C# D# would all sound correct?
Not a huge fan of bees
Indeed!

I believe there is a rhyme (READ: cheat ) that goes: Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle. The initial letter being the note added.
I forget what it is for the flats exactly.

In all honesty it would be better to just commit them to memory outright.
lol for flats is the exact opposite.
Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father
xD
^That! lol
Thanks for all your help guys,

It's always been one of those things that everyone talks about, just wherever I looked, I couldn't get a definitive answer. I guess this would make learning the major scale ALOT easier.
Not a huge fan of bees
one important aspect of the circle of fifths revolves around modulation. The way the COF works is that most of the time in a song when there is a key change it is to a key very close to the key you were playing in. So once you have the idea of keys down, a large hurdle in your playing is to be able to understand the relationship the notes in a key has to the other keys close to it. The basis for key based music, at least to me, is how the keys relate to one another and that in reality a key isn't really a segregated set of notes, but a set of 7 notes that relate to every other note in a certain way. This idea is probably beyond your grasp now, but I find it's helpful to know which direction your learning is going next, if you keep reading and thinking about an idea eventually the pieces will fall into place.
Looking at the circle, I can't quite work out how B and Gb are a fifth apart? Wouldn't it be F? Coulod someone please explain?
Not a huge fan of bees
Keys aren't always major or minor that's what got me confused and I still can't figure some of it out. You can write out of A Diminished or whole tone scale, I can't really say if it's minor or major cause I don't know, lol. But it's a valid key which leads to some very interesting triads and chords.
Quote by Gelato
Looking at the circle, I can't quite work out how B and Gb are a fifth apart? Wouldn't it be F? Coulod someone please explain?

B(1) C#(2) D#(3) E(4) F#(5)

the F# is enharmonic with Gb and in the direction of fourths from Db to Gb it's

Db(1) Eb(2) F(3) Gb(4)

diatonically you are correct, Gb is not the fifth of B when in the key of B major, B major is a sharp key meaning there are no flats, the key of F#/Gb can be either a sharp key or a flat key depending on which you choose.
Quote by TroM
Keys aren't always major or minor that's what got me confused and I still can't figure some of it out. You can write out of A Diminished or whole tone scale, I can't really say if it's minor or major cause I don't know, lol. But it's a valid key which leads to some very interesting triads and chords.

wrong. keys are always either minor or major. the scales you're using can be something else like what you have said, but scales only.
simply play the major scale box 1 with the starting root note being your chosen key. then work out each note played on the fretboard. the 7 notes are the notes to play for this key. Also the chords. certain notes are # or b's. for the chords you must stick to the formula M m m M M m dim for a major key.