Learn Key Signatures - The Fun Way

Key Hunt is an arcade style game that will teach you key signatures. Not only are key signatures useful for reading music, they are fundamental part of music theory and will help you learn guitar scales, chord progressions, and much more. Below you will find a quick method to memorize key signatures (a very handy thing to do) as well as instructions to the game. Have Fun!

Key Signatures

What are Key Signatures? Ever notice all those funny sharps and flats at the beginning of music? You know, the ones you are supposed to remember and use throughout the entire piece of music. Sometimes there are a couple sharps, other times you see some flats (and decide to not play that piece of music). That is a key signature. It is kind of like the thumb print for a key. So the key of "G" for instance has a key signature with one #, namely "F#." No other key has that signature, only "G." Now if you know a key's signature you can figure out its scale. If we have the key of "G" and know that its signature is "F#" then the scale contains the notes: G A B C D E F# G. In other words, it has one of each letter name ("A" through "G") and and accidentals (sharps or flats) in the signature are thrown in too. Here is another example "Bb" ("B - flat"). It has a key signature of two flats "Bb" and "Eb". So its scale is: Bb C D Eb F G A Bb. Also notice that key signatures never use both sharps AND flats, it is either sharps OR flats. That will be crucial in remembering them. Here goes...

How to Memorize Key Signatures

First, lets look at the sharp keys:

C: no sharp or flats
G: F#
D: F# C#
A: F# C# G#
E: F# C# G# D#
B: F# C# G# D# A#
F#: F# C# G# D# A# E#
C#: F# C# G# D# A# E# B# (ugly!)

Notice a pattern here? First off, notice that there is a certain order sharps appear in. You will never see a key signature with only "A#", the signature would always start with "F#" and proceed through the order of the sharps (big fancy term) until it got to "A#". So if you know the number of sharps in a key (e.g. E has 4) then you know what sharps it has (E has "F# C# G# D#"). The pattern can be remembered by the acronym: Fat Cats Go Down And Eat Bananas But wait... there's more! Notice anything about the last sharp in a key and the key name, for example "F#" is the last sharp in the key of "G", "C#" is the last sharp in the key of "D", "G#" is the last sharp in the key of "A", etc. Do you see it? Yes, it is always one below the name! "F#" is one below "G", "C#" is one below "D", and "G#" is one below "A" (in the musical alphabet). So what?. Well given that sharps appear in a certain order, and we know what the last sharp in a signature is going to be we can easily remember the signature. Take "B" as an example. What is one below "B"? "A#" (If you got that wrong we're in trouble). Now go in the order until you get to "A#"...Fat Cats Go Down And or F# C# G# D# A#, there it is!

Now for flats, you know, they look like the letter "b" and make you want to throw your guitar out the window. Don't despair, help is on the way. Here they are:

F: Bb
Bb: Bb Eb
Eb: Bb Eb Ab
Ab: Bb Eb Ab Db
Db: Bb Eb Ab Db Gb
Gb: Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb
Cb: Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb Fb (very ugly!)

Once again we have a pattern, and just like the sharps we have an order of the flats. Compare the order of the flats to the order of the sharps. Notice any similarities? It may not be obvious at first glance, but the order of the flats is the same as the order of the sharps backwards. So you could think: Bananas Eat And Down Go Cats Fat (just a little joke). Another way to remember them is to think of the order as the word "Bead" and then add "gcf", which works but is not quite as convenient as the sharps. The trick where you look at the last # doesn't work with the flats. There is another trick though, that works with all the flat keys except "F" ("F" you just have to memorize). Take a look at the second to last flat for any flat key (this is why "F" doesn't work, it only has 1 flat). Compare the second to last flat to the name of the key. For "Bb" it's "Bb", for "Eb" its "Eb", for "Ab" its "Ab", etc. Very convenient. Now to get the key signature for a flat key all you have to do is go in the order until you get to the name of the key and then go one further. Take "Gb" for example. Think "Bead" + gcf. You go until you get to the "Gb" that's "Bb Eb Ab Db Gb". Then add one more from the order and you get "Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb".

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The Game

Key Hunt: Key Signature Game

In the game you are Woody the Guitar Guy, an intrepid explorer searching for the lost keys of Muzo Land. You move through Muzo Land with the arrow keys on your keyboard, and the space bar or up arrow to jump. The down arrow makes you kneel and covers your eyes which might come in handy should any dangerous acid drop from the sky (hint hint).

  Woody the Guitar Guy

On the screen you will notice the name of a key. For example:

  Key Name C Major

Each level will have its own key (so make sure you check when you pass a level!) Though out the level you will see the lost note jewels of Muzo Land each with a miraculous note name etched on it. For example:

Key Hunt Note Name

You will want to collect all the notes in the key shown. Be careful though, if you collect a note jewel with a note name not in the key shown it will poison you. For instance the "G#" shown above would not be a good thing to get if the key shown was "C Major." One touch of its deadly toxins and you are a goner. When you collect a note it will show you in the note collection box:

 Note Collection Box

In this case it shows that 2 out of 7 notes were collected (since each key has 7 unique notes). And that the notes you collected were "G" and "D".

When you collect all the notes, the magic Muzo key will appear. It will be hidden somewhere in the level and you need to find it (That's the "hunt" part of the "Key Hunt" game, pretty clever eh?). The key looks like this:


Remember it won't appear until you find all 7 notes in the key. If you get to the end of the level and see this:

Closed Door

It means that you still need to collect the key. When you do you will see this:

Open Door

Which means its on to the next fun filled adventure! There are 12 levels in all and they get progressively harder. Along the way you will meet many obstacles. When you see a termite make sure to stomp them. After all you are made of wood.


High Scores

If you get enough points you might find yourself with a high score. After the game is through you will be asked if you would like your name listed for the world to see.


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Are you ready for some adventures?
Well you will love this game!
I remember when I found the game , I was looking for educational games about music theory and I came across this wonderful game!!
I was very bad at video games and I didn't like them very much ... but I was so curious about the key hunt game that I spent hours playing it and so I automatically learned music keys and I know my music scales much better ! And furthermore I discovered a very good and useful web site!!!Marinella Casertano
Marsala, Italy

I think this is a great idea and all but as far building my favor with signatures, I spend more time falling on spikes and into pits to become familiar with the signatures. A more forward approach to the idea would be really helpful. Such as the flash-card game. Charles Devin
Bryant, AR. USA

*Editors Note - Super Scale Trainer offers a flash card like approach to key signatures. Alo suggested is Music Theory Blocks scale mode.

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