Changing Key Signature

• Jan 7, 2012 - 15:45

I am a singer/songwriter who plays no instrument other than the queen of instruments...the human voice. I am successfully writing the music I hear in my head with this wonderful tool and nothing more than a pitch pipe! However, I am challenged when it comes to coming up with key signatures. I see lots of flats/sharps show up and I know I could do better (and that musicians would prefer) than writing without key signatures. Is there some way to transform my scores into scores with the proper key signature and all the notes so adjusted?


Just put the right key signature, by double clicking or draging it from the left palette. All your sharps/flats should disapear automaticaly.

Well, only you - the musician - figure out what key your piece is in. But assuming you figure out what key it is in, then sure, you can add key signatures through drag and drop at any time.

In reply to by Marc Sabatella

is for the software to automatically give you the key signature. There may be software that does this, but, really, the best way is to study enough so that you can understand the key signatures (and so much more). It takes time to understand how to notate, as it is a language. It's as if you want a software program to take a number of vocal articulations and turn them into a novel. If you don't understand the words themselves, it is difficult to form a sentence. Keep plugging, it just takes time, although lessons help.


In reply to by xavierjazz

I'm a software engineer. How difficult could it be for a client to walk through the notes of a score and determine the correct key signature? It seems to me this would be rather simple, no? Can MuseScore do that? If not, can you recommend a s/w client that can?

As far as learning "so much more", that is the problem with programming in general. There is always "so much more" to learn and I am unfortunate in that I don't have an infinite lifespan...and even if I did, there would still be "so much more" to learn.

That's simple, you don't have to learn a lot... Sorry if I bother you.

Just count your flats or sharps and look at "circle of fifths" (attached bellow)
It gives you the right key, and the tonality.

In the key signature, sharps come ( are written) in that order : F C G D A E B
Flats : B E A D G C F

For exemple : Eb major = C minor = 3 flats at the key, coming in this order : B E A.
Reverse : If you have Eb Bb and Ab in your tune : put it in order on the key-> 3 flats -> Eb maj or Cmin !!! (depending on chord's bass, first and last chord or mood of the tune)

Basicaly that's all, and it could be automated but... In some contexts (like other scales/modes than Maj/min) it gets a little more complex.. And that belong to a "human choice".

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In reply to by cuckoo

Yes, my piano teacher, back in the mists of time taught me a mnemonic for remembering which I have never forgotten.

It is a reversable sentence....

for the sharps:-

Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle

for the flats:-

Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles Father


In reply to by ChurchOrganist

That's nice and I've made notes. The mnemonic was cool. However, I'm still going to look around for a software client that does this (or maybe write my own). Quite simple as I think about it: Go through and try all the combinations and whichever one ends up with the least extra flats and sharps is the key sig!

In reply to by beno

Reakize, though, that this is just a crude approximation and will give you the wrong answer at least as often as not for music of any complexity at all.and giving people music in the wrong key it's worse than music with no key. There really is no substitute for learning the basics of music.

In reply to by beno

The other thing to remember is that 95% of melodies end on the key note.

If you have a bass line it's even easier because 100% of bass lines end on the key note :)

One problem you are going to encounter though is getting the software to establish the mode (major or minor), which humans do by experience.

The biggest, however will be melodies that include a bridge in a different key - I suspect taht would throw any software algorithm into complete confusion.

In reply to by beno

If you plan to write your own code, even if it will fail on some case, you could try to write a plugin for MuseScore. It will not let you set the key signature but you will be able to go through all the notes and figure out the most probable key signature based on your algorithm and display it in a dialog.
See for more info about the plugin framework
and for some plugin examples.

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