What is the most common mnemonic for memorizing the number of sharps or flats in each key?

I haven’t looked at key signatures since high school. 1 sharp is G, 2 sharps D etc.
Seven years playing violin in the school orchestra and I knew this stuff well. But 30 years is a long time ago.

What was the mnemonic for keys?

this jogs my memory. But there is way to memorize it.
What was the mnemonic for keys?
C G D A E B F#

also have to remember what the sharps are
1 F#
2 F# C#
3 F# C# G#
and so on, each time add a new letter. But what was that pattern?

I used to know this stuff cold. Besides orchestra I took music theory my senior year. I never memorized the notes in chords. Its easy to just count the letters (1,3,5) or (1,3,5,7) and apply the key signature.
D has 2 sharps F# and C#
D chord is D F# A Dm is D F A because you flatten the third a half step.
DMaj7 is D F# A C# flatten the 7th to get D7 D F# A C

I’ll be ok if I can just remember how I memorized the key signatures back in grade school. :slight_smile:

FACE is the spaces in the treble clef it’s also the mnemonic for the notes in the FMaj7 chord, FAC is the F chord

So, what is a good mnemonic for the keys and how many sharps or flats they have? 0 of course is the key of C that one is impossible to forget. C is every musicians favorite key.

How did we memorize the sharps pattern for 0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7? I can easily read it off the treble clef but there was a way we memorized it.

Good Dogs Always Eat Bagels For Coffee.

Sorry, that’s the only one I remember. :frowning: They also taught us “musical clocks,” but damned if I can recall how they were arranged.

It’s the Circle of Fifths. You count five notes to the next key or the next sharp.

:o that’s it. count to 5 starting with C gets G then 5 again D

same thing with the sharps starting with 1 sharp is F then C 5 more G so three sharps is FCG

thats applying the circle of fifths. Its easy to screw up. You have to count it off on your fingers very carefully.

I’d swear we had a mnemonic so we didn’t have to reinvent the wheel every time.

A lot of it was just repetition reading music. We’d glance at the score’s key signature and just automatically know 3 sharps means the key of A. Didn’t even think about it.

You’ll find this varies greatly among instruments and individual players. I don’t know, for example, a single guitarist who loves C.

Anyhow, I never learned any mnemonic to my recollection. I’m sure there is one or you can make one up for yourself, but we just learned it naturally, as the keys were introduced from lesson to lesson. Otherwise, it was the circle of fifths.

I can’t even recall now what keys we used for violin. Seems like there were just three or four that we saw regularly on music our teacher selected. I vividly remember The Fugue in G minor. Two months of rehearsals in the 10th grade. I still hear that Fugue in my head sometimes. We did Pop Goes the Weasel in the 11th grade. That was a fun one.

I don’t mind C on the guitar. I’m comfortable playing my F barre chord. Other keys are easier.

Depends on your style of playing, I guess. For me, the shortage of useful open strings makes it a bad key for acoustic fingerstyle playing. Even with a capo and in alternate tunings, I can never make C work.

The most common keys for violin when I was playing in school orchestras were C major, A minor, G major, D major, and A major.

Oh, I’m not saying it’s a bad or difficult key to play guitar in–I’ve just never come across a guitarist who would call it his favorite key. I’d expect E, A, D, and G majors and at least Am and Em to come out ahead of C as most popular favorite keys to play in for guitarists. Individual guitarists may vary, of course, but that’s more-or-less what I’d expect overall.

We learned: “Fat cats go down alleys eating birds.”

^ And I should also probably state that I’m speaking from a rock music perspective. In other styles of music, C might be more desirable for a guitarist, as you have non-barre forms of the ii(7), iii(7), and vi(7) chords available to you in addition to the I and V.

Actually, I misread the OP

Sharps: The Free Chili is Great Down At Ed’s Bar

Father Charles goes down and ends battle is a good one for the sharps, because in reverse you get the flats in an intelligible sentence. Now, the sharp keys are one semitone above the last sharp. Father - g major, Charles - D major. The flat keys are the second last flat, so the word before the last flat. You have to remember the flat keys starts with F.

Thank you everyone for the help.

Rediscovering music after all these years has become a passion for me. I regret now that I ever walked away from it. It is a lot of fun dredging up the old memories and learning again from an older perspective.

I think they were referring to 11 o’clock as the first sharp F for G (1 o’clock). D (2 o’clock) has 2 sharps FC.
A (3 o’clock) has 3 sharps FCG and so on. Each time read the the letters off the clock starting from 11. But keep that gap on the dial the same.

I was overlooking that approach when I started the OP. It was only after looking at the mnemonic that the letters clicked in my head and I saw how they worked on the clock dial / Circle of Fifths.

The clock face dial analogy works well for me. Other people may relate to the Circle of Fifths differently.

The clock analogy even helps me picture where the keys fit on the Circle of Fifths. B is at 5 o’clock - 5 sharps.

This thread helped me a lot.

Foolish children get drunk at every bar.

Grave digging’s an exacting but fun career.

Mine was, “fat cats get down and elephants boogie.”

I would say that most musicians eventually come to the point where they know the circle of fifths completely - exceptions would be those that play by ear, or maybe the single tone instruments might think of it differently (trumpets, clarinets, etc).

You should be able to look at the key signature and the first few notes/chords, and recognize the Tonic (major or minor), name the Dominant and Sub-Dominant, and the Relative Major or Relative Minor.