# Memorizing major and minor keys by ascending and descending by whole step - good idea?

i believe i have discovered an easy method for finding major and minor key signatures until memorized. all you have to do is count by whole step. this process may be easier if you sit in front of a keyboard.

all you have to know in advance is this:

C major = 0 accidentals

G major = 1 sharp

F major = 1 flat

First, we start with C major and ascend by whole step until you reach F# major. for example:

SHARPS IN THE MAJOR KEY

C = 0
D = 2
E = 4
F# = 6

Then, we go up one half-step and continue the ascent by whole step:

G = 1
A = 3
B = 5
C# = 7

for flats, you descend by whole step:

FLATS IN THE MAJOR KEY

C = 0
Bb = 2
Ab = 4
Gb = 6

now we descend one half-step and continue

F = 1
Eb = 3
Db = 5
Cb = 7

It also works for the Minor keys as well.

This time we just need to know

A minor = 0 accidentals

E minor = 1 sharp

D minor = 1 flat

Again we also ascend for sharps, and descend for flats:

SHARPS IN THE MINOR KEY

A = 0
B = 2
C# = 4
D# = 6

ascend by half-step to E Minor

E = 1
F# = 3
G# = 5
A# = 7

FLATS IN THE MINOR KEY

The descent:

A = 0
G = 2
F = 4
Eb = 6

time to half-step

D = 1
C = 3
Bb = 5
Ab = 7

• Thanks for sharing this with our community. It may have been done before - there's nothing new on Earth! - but it's a nice way to get used to key sigs. +1. – Tim Aug 24 '17 at 7:24
• Welcome to music SE James! – Aric Aug 24 '17 at 8:46
• It's a good idea but it is well-known because two perfect fifths equal a whole step (plus one octave); and similarly for the downward movement. Most musicians are aware of this. – Matt L. Aug 24 '17 at 10:08
• This approach certainly works, and if it helps, go for it. But I would agree with Matt L. here: moving by whole steps is the same as moving through the circle of fifths two jumps at a time, as far as the key signature goes. Although it's perhaps easier to think C D E than C G D, and so forth, you will need to know the circle of fifths at some point anyway, and with it you can move through the key signatures one change at a time instead of two. Just my humble suggestion. – Scott Wallace Aug 24 '17 at 11:19