Music theory – In this lesson, we will learn about key signatures with flats. First of all, let’s remember that all major scales will follow the formula W-W-H-W-W-W-H. So, no matter whether the major scale has a key signature with sharps or flats, the formula will be the same.
Key Signatures with Flats
While key signatures with sharps follow the Circle of Fifths, key signatures with flats will follow the Circle of Fourths. And similarly, there are seven key signatures with flats. How to build them? It’s easy:
- It all starts with the C Major scale, which has no sharps or flats;
- The first major scale with flats will be the 4th degree of C Major scale. So, the first major scale with flats is F Major;
- However, notice that the new scale is not a major scale yet: there’s a whole step between 3rd and 4th degrees:
- To follow the major scale formula, we need a half step between 3rd and 4th degrees. To do that, let’s lower the 4th degree of F Major (B will become Bb):
F Major scale
- With this adjustment, now we have an F Major scale. In music notation:
The next scale with flats will start in the 4th degree of F Major, which is Bb Major. And yes, we will need to lower its 4th degree (E), so that it follows the major scale formula:
Bb Major scale
Using music notation:
As you can see, the next scale with flats will start in the 4th degree of the current one, and will have a flat note in its 4th degree.
Below you see all seven key signatures with flats:
That’s it! In the next lesson, we will learn the proper fingering for those scales, which are a little bit different from the key signatures with sharps.