How to work out any major scale/key that starts on a white note;
(For example C major, D major, E major, F major, G major, A major and B major)
Rule 1
We have to remember that C major has no sharps(#) or flats(b), only white notes.
And F major has a Bb.

Rule 2
Find your key note (the note your scale would start on) then jump back one semitone(one step) to find your last sharp, then add in all sharps before it in your rhyme;


e.g. D major (jump back gives you C #- FATHER CHARLES)
So D major= F# + C#
       E major (jump back gives you D #- FATHER CHARLES GOES DOWN)
So E major= F#, C#, G# + D#.

Ella Pattinson
3/2/2011 02:46:16 am

Thanks this really helped :)

Ella Pattinson
3/2/2011 02:46:49 am

Thanks this really helped :):)

Barbara Barker
11/2/2011 05:27:06 am

I think Father Charles is wonderful! Love 'im to bits! Means I've now got all my sharps and flats in all scales 'sort-ed'! - and that's no mean feat if you know me! Took me some little time to get to understand Father Charles - and his battles - but couldn't live without him now! Fantastic help! Thank you Sarah (the most patient person on this planet!)

Bob Clarke
2/9/2011 04:29:13 am

I wrote up the following notes to help me work this out...

Key Signatures

There are two things we will want to do with Key signatures.. these are...
1./ Work out the key for a given signature
2./ Work out the signature for a given key

if we're given a staff with some sharps or flats drawn at the beginning we want to be able to say which key it's in
(e.g. there are two sharps so we must be in D major)

If someone tells us to play in a certain key, we need to be what sharps of flats to play
(e.g. We're in G major so we must have one sharp which is F-sharp)

It's important to point out that only Major keys have signatures. Minor keys do not have key signatures, instead they use the signature of their relative major with the addition of a raised 7th as an accidental.

Sharps and flats
When working out a key signature, different methods are used depending on whether the root note is white or black.

Keys with a white root note use sharps (and it follows that key signatures written with sharps mean it's a white root note)

Keys with a black root note use flats (and it follows that key signatures written with flats mean it's a black root note)

One exception to this is F major which has one flat, B-flat.

When the root note is black the thing that stands out is that the root note itself is one of the flats used in the key signature. This is not the case when the root note is White of course. Pretty obvious but worth a mention.

Working things out for sharps
To works things out for sharps (i.e. keys with white root notes) we use the following rhyme...
Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle

Finding the key when you know the key signature
This is how we use the rhyme to find the key using an example signature of 4 sharps...
FInd your last sharp in the rhyme, in our example we have 4 sharps so it's F#, C #, G#, D# (Father Charles Goes Down), therefore the last sharp is D#
Now jump up a semi-tone, this will give you the root note, in this case E, therefore we're in the key of E major.

Finding the key signature when you know the key
This is how we use the rhyme to find the signature using an example of key of A major
From your root note (in this case A) jump down a semi-tone, this will tell you the last sharp (in this case G#)
Now recite the rhyme up to the last sharp to fill in the preceding sharps, in this case F#, C# and G# (Father Charles Goes). So our key signature is three sharps, F#, C# and G#

A note about F-major
As mentioned above, F major is an exception to the rule of white root note keys using sharps. It has one flat, B flat. Not sure why B-flat couldn't be called A-sharp but it's most likely because there would then be 2 keys signatures containing only one sharp (G major also has only one sharp, F-sharp).

Working things out for flats
To works things out for flats (i.e. keys with black root notes) we use the rhyme backwards...
Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles Father

Finding the key signature when you know the key
This is how we use the rhyme to find the signature using an example of key of Eb major.
Go up to the root note in the rhyme (in this case Battle Ends) then add one more (in this case And) which means that the key signature for Eb is B-flat, E-flat and A-flat

Finding the key when you know the key signature
This part is easy with flats, the root note is simply the second to last flat in the rhyme. So if you have 5 flats, walk through the rhyme .... Battle Ends And Down Goes (B-flat E-flat A-flat D-flat G-flat) the key is D-flat major

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