I am writing a piece of composition software and need information regarding different musical eras in order to make the algorithms work for different time periods. Therefore it would help to know if there were a few specific key signatures that were favoured back then.

The same information would also be helpful regarding the Renaissance, Baroque. Classical, Romantic, and Impressionist eras however they're not as much of a priority. Thanks ^_^.

  • This question is far too broad, as it covers the entire recorded history of Western music. If you asked about individual style periods in separate questions, that might work better.
    – user1044
    Sep 28, 2015 at 14:35
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    Perhaps you could edit the question to remove the reference to "Renaissance, Baroque," etc.
    – user1044
    Sep 28, 2015 at 14:37
  • Omg, I did say "the same information WOULD BE HELPFUL", I was hoping for the medieval era more than the others. Sep 28, 2015 at 14:41
  • @Rariolu Them don't add them to the question. Your question should be about one specific thing w/o things on the side. Sep 29, 2015 at 4:00
  • Why does it matter? I made it clear the main thing so why care? I just figured it would make more sense to add them in here than to create individual questions for each of them. I apologise for your lack of how conversation and vocabulary works in reality. Sep 30, 2015 at 8:37

1 Answer 1


Remember that Key signatures and the general Major / minor tonalities where an invention of the Baroque era. In medieval times it was the church modes that where the big daddy.

I know this is not going to be the answer that you want but none of the key signatures where popular in Medieval times simply because they had not been invented yet.

  • This is an excellent point. I'm torn between upvoting for its excellence versus suggesting it should be a comment in the sense that it's not so much an answer as suggesting there is no answer. The question also has 4/5 closure votes barring editing to make it less broad. Sep 28, 2015 at 15:52
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    I thought it a bit long for a comment.
    – Neil Meyer
    Sep 28, 2015 at 15:55
  • If you were to copy and paste it into a comment field, you would have 257 characters left, so in terms of the system length limit for a comment you would be fine. In terms of whether it is appropriate content for a comment, again I feel like it could go either way. Sep 28, 2015 at 16:02
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    Thanks, I was mislead by some medieval music that was written in the conventional format with a key signature included. Sep 28, 2015 at 17:27
  • The only pitches that were used in medieval notation were the "white notes" of the piano, plus B flat. dolmetsch.com/medieval.pdf is a short introduction. Don't forget that a modern edition may have transposed the original notation for some reason.
    – user19146
    Sep 28, 2015 at 23:28

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