Key Signature Conundrum

Key signature and clarinet learning

Every week brings new challenges – and new musical knowledge, and the other week, my music teacher revealed to me the mystery of the key signature.

It wasn’t that I hadn’t noticed the key signature. I have come across it before, but never really looked at it or thought about how it related to my playing.

I wouldn’t call myself an expert by any means, but slowly but surely the scales (no pun intended!) are falling from my eyes and it is all starting to make much more sense. If only I had known this stuff from day one!

The Mercedes-Benz factor

Before I go on I must admit that I actually started writing this post two weeks ago, but due to a combination of being busy, slightly lazy, working on another new blog and taking up another new hobby (cycling), it was not completed at that time.

I am returning to this topic with a fresh new approach, and reading the beginning of the post again reminded me of my third car purchase. I traded in my troublesome decade-old Corsa in August 2009 for a two-year-old Mercedes-Benz B Class.

I had only stopped by the dealership to ‘look around’ but before long, I was test driving the car and my daughter and the car dealer were soon looking expectantly at me while I toyed with the idea of buying the car or not.

At the time, one of the things I remember the salesman said to me was that the car had many features, and that he would only show me a selection of them because the beauty of the features was in the discovery.

Sure enough, two years on, I keep discovering new things including, more recently a concealed panel in the arm rest which is now used as a handy and capacious pencil case.

Key signature and the meaning of clarinet scales

But getting back to clarinets, the ‘unveiling’ of the key signature has been a delight – and helped me understand what I am doing with my scales.

I’ve found a very handy chart on Wikipedia that shows – in a circular diagram of Circle of Fifths showing major (in red) and minor keys (in green) and their signatures – genius!

While I personally wouldn’t get into the mathematical side of things, the Circle of Fifths is a very useful aide-memoire for key signatures.

 Vibrating Reed – for adult learners of the clarinet