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Key signature

Key signature

In solfeggio, key signature means a set of changes to the key together, composed either exclusively of sharps or flats exclusively outside the special case of change of key signature.


  • These alterations, known as constitutive alterations, whose number may vary from one to seven, will always follow the same order.
- Order of sharps, ascending by fifths: F, C, G, D, A, E, B.
- Order of flats, by descending fifths: B, E, A, D, G, C, F is the reverse of the previous.
Ordre des altérations constitutives
For example, if there is one sharp to the key, this will be F Sharp If there are five: F Sharp, C Sharp, G Sharp, D Sharp and ASharp; if there are two flats: B flat and E flat, if there are four : B flat, E flat, A flat, and D flat, etc...


While the impact of accidental alteration exerted on any note of the same name and same height in so far as it is placed, the effect of constitutive alteration is permanent : throughout the range, it's exercises over all notes of the same name of different height but of course, if in the meantime came a change of key signature, or simply an accidental alteration modifying the pitch concerned.

  • Eg :
Valeur des altérations constitutives
In the example above, the E flat (flat constitution) affects all the notes, except notes No.4 and No.6 because of accidental naturals. Note No.5, although also a E flat is not affected by the E Natural because it is situated at an octave different.


The constitutive alterations serve to transpose the scale diatonic natural. Thus, regardless of the key signature, you will always find in each octave, "two diatonic semitones isolated framing alternately two and three tones".

"Transpose a melody" means "move this song in height, without altering its constitution". When transposing the names of notes change, but the intervals between notes are unchanged, thereby avoiding distortion of the original melody. If the spouses intervals of the diatonic scale were identical, transposition does not deserve a long explanation. But as we know, these intervals can be either tone or diatonic semitones, it is essential to retain alterations to the exact distance from these intervals is not changed during implementation.
  • Thus each key signature set its own scales and its own tones . For more details on the key signature and their significance in relation to the key of a song.
  • Transpositions of the diatonic scale natural:
Transposition de l'échelle diatonique naturelle

Change key signature

Just as the quantification of the measure, or as the key, the key signature can be changed in the course of a song. This is called : change of key signature. In the case of a change of key signature, all the constitutive alterations may contain naturals. A change of key signature can occur at a modulation .


(Source: - copyright authors - article under GFDL)

Creation date : 14/03/2009 15:14
Last update : 04/04/2009 19:43
Category : - Solfeggio
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The diatonic scale

A diatonic scale is a musical scale called heptatonic, with 7 degrees with 5 tones and 2 half-tones.
This type of scale is the foundation of western music. It is possible, through alterations of the diatonic scale to add a number of intermediate ones, placed near the middle of each tone diatonic. In this case, the scale and amplified, is called chromatic scale. The exact frequency of these intermediate scores can be problematic in agreement: the so-called "equal temperament" simplifies the chromatic scale of reference.



In a music system, the word melody means the dimension that takes into account the heights emitted by a source, individual or collective, instrumental or vocal in a musical production of any kind. The main melody is opposed to the rhythm, another component of the music.
Because it is a succession of sounds with different frequencies, a melody is a succession of intervals. Indeed, from the standpoint of the interpreter, like that of the listener, each note of a melody is determined by the melodic interval that separates it from the previous note.

The modulation

In tonal harmony, modulation refers to a mode change, without interrupting the musical discourse. By extension, it also means:

  • a change in tonic
  • changing lifestyle and tonic
  • the fragment of music that plays in the new key.

It is a characteristic of tonal music that can cross different tones successively in the same piece.

To be credible modulation, there must be at least two chords belonging to the new tone: a dominant chord followed by a tonic chord, ie a perfect cadence in the new key. If there is an agreement outside the original tone, there is no modulation, but a simple loan.

The problems posed by the modulation are somewhat similar to those posed by the transposition and are strongly affected by the type of scale used.

The octave in music

The etymology of the word octave just music: it takes eight grades to have a frequency twice as high.
Indeed, the one to play in tune, it must produce a frequency of 440 Hz to play the octave above, it is necessary to produce a frequency of 880 Hz, ie, exactly twice.
In music, an octave is the interval between two sounds whose fundamental frequency of one is twice the frequency of the other. Divided into several sub-intervals, it allows to define the ranges.


In western music, solfeggio (or music theory) is the study of elements to read, write, play or sing a score. The ultimate goal of reading music is to hear a musical work, its orchestration and its interpretation, no other medium that its interior hearing.


In western music, the word means a tone scale music belonging to the tonal system.

  • Caught in a broad sense, the word "tone" can refer to the tonal system as a whole.
  • The word can also take the direction of height, its fundamental to some instruments.
  • The word tone can be used as a synonym for tone.

A tone is defined as the set of intervals, melodic and harmonic as well, between hierarchical levels of a given scale compared to its fundamental level, called tonic. A tone is characterized by both the tonic and its mode.
Each key is constructed from the diatonic scale.

The tone is also a means to locate a musical instrument in relation to C reference.
The flute, violin or piano are in C, that is to say that when the C is played, it really means to do. The B-flat trumpet sounded really flat so when playing a do. The horn (in F) is heard when playing an F do.

The tone is very important because it will allow transposition and transcription of partitions in C in tones of instruments with different pitches.

Some instruments and their tone:

  • Ut: Piano, strings, flutes and piccolo, oboe, bassoon, C trumpet, trombone, tuba, bass tuba.
  • D flat: the old piccolos.
  • Re: Trumpet in D.
  • Eb: alto saxophone and baritone, small bugle, horn in E flat, alto (small tuba), clarinet, bass tuba.
  • F: Cor.
  • Sol: Trumpet in G.
  • The: Oboe d'amore, the trumpet.
  • Bb: soprano saxophone, tenor tuba (euphonium and baritone), B-flat trumpet, flugelhorn, clarinet, bass tuba (bombardon).