Order Of Sharps And Flats

This is a continuation of my ‘Circle of Fifths‘ post.

The Order of Sharps and Flats

This will be another utility to use with the circle of 5ths to determine what key gets Flats or Sharps and how we determine them.
Order of #‘s: F C G D A E B (a saying I like to remember these notes is):
Fat
Cats
Go
Down
Alleys
Eating
Bones

Order of b‘s: B E A D G C F (a saying to remember the flats is):
B-E-A-D
Glass
Cuts
Fine

If you notice, the order of Flats is just the order of Sharps in reverse.
Now lets get workin’! Lets pick one of our keys from the cycle of fifths in diagram 2. Lets start with the key of A Major.

Notice this: the key of A Major is on the side where we have Sharps (#) in thiskey. to determine the sharps of the A key we will refer to the “order of Sharps (#)”.

Order of #‘s are as follows :
F C G D A E B
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Since we see that the key of A Major has 3 sharps, we will just count up in our order of Sharps, 3 alphabet characters. F C G – These are our sharps in our key of A Major.

Let’s write out our key of A without identifying the sharps like this firsthand:

A B C D E F G A

We have determined that our sharps in the key of A Major are F C G, we were able to do this by using our circle of fifths corresponding with the order of Sharps. NOW, if we happen to pick a Eb key (has 3 b’s) we would be using the order of flats, but the same principles apply. we can now add our sharps symbols to our notes within our key to identify it as the “key of A major”. (F# C# G#)

A B C# D E F# G#

We have successfully made our first key, we can use this key to form many things, such as scales & chords believe it or not! Lets see how we can do that!

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  • Paradis

    That was actually a great explanation! I’m actually understanding it better now! Memorizing it is going to be the difficult part now. :-) Thanks for the post.

  • Paradis

    That was actually a great explanation! I’m actually understanding it better now! Memorizing it is going to be the difficult part now. :-) Thanks for the post.

  • Nancy Pouliquen

    The order of sharps can be memorized as follows:

    “Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Boogers

  • Nancy Pouliquen

    The order of sharps can be memorized as follows:

    “Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Boogers”

  • Nancy Pouliquen

    The order of sharps can be memorized as follows:

    “Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Boogers”

  • Nancy Pouliquen

    The order of sharps can be memorized as follows:

    “Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Boogers

  • Nancy Pouliquen

    The order of sharps can be memorized as follows:

    “Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Boogers”

  • Mike

    An easier way to remember the order of sharps go as follows : Father Charlie Goes Down And Ends Battle ( FCGDAEB )
    And also and easier way to remember the order of flats goes : Battle Ends And Down Goes Charlies Father (BEADGCF )

  • Mike

    An easier way to remember the order of sharps go as follows : Father Charlie Goes Down And Ends Battle ( FCGDAEB )
    And also and easier way to remember the order of flats goes : Battle Ends And Down Goes Charlies Father (BEADGCF )

  • Mike

    An easier way to remember the order of sharps go as follows : Father Charlie Goes Down And Ends Battle ( FCGDAEB )
    And also and easier way to remember the order of flats goes : Battle Ends And Down Goes Charlies Father (BEADGCF )

  • Daaave

    I understand how to tell how many sharps or flats are in a key, like there are 4 sharps in E, 3 flats in Eb)..right?

    My question is how do you know which of the notes in the key are flat? What would the notes of Eb major (ionian) be?

  • Daaave

    I understand how to tell how many sharps or flats are in a key, like there are 4 sharps in E, 3 flats in Eb)..right?

    My question is how do you know which of the notes in the key are flat? What would the notes of Eb major (ionian) be?

  • Jamesonwa

    So you want to figure out the notes in Eb Major? well first determine what the Flats are in the key first by using the “order of flats” which is BEADGCF, since Eb Major has a total of 3 Flats, which are B E A, we will write it out as E F G A B C D E, then identify our flats, B E A, so Eb Major would be Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb. I hope you understand this is done, any further questions feel free to shoot me an email at jamesdellay@gmail.com.

  • Jamesonwa

    So you want to figure out the notes in Eb Major? well first determine what the Flats are in the key first by using the “order of flats” which is BEADGCF, since Eb Major has a total of 3 Flats, which are B E A, we will write it out as E F G A B C D E, then identify our flats, B E A, so Eb Major would be Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb. I hope you understand this is done, any further questions feel free to shoot me an email at jamesdellay@gmail.com.

  • Jamesonwa

    like i say, i like to begin the scale just in basic alphabetical order, such as Eb. starting like this
    E F G A B C D E now, the Root is the “key” your in, so in this case our root is E, just ignore the flat part in Eb for right now, so, to determine the flats, in Eb we know it has 3 of them. B E A. We now go back to our E F G A B C D E alphabet and just change the letters corresponding to the flats we determined to flats in your scale, like this. Eb F Gb Ab B C D Eb, this now makes our Eb Major scale.
    so using the R/3/5 technique we can now make chords or scales.

  • Jamesonwa

    like i say, i like to begin the scale just in basic alphabetical order, such as Eb. starting like this
    E F G A B C D E now, the Root is the “key” your in, so in this case our root is E, just ignore the flat part in Eb for right now, so, to determine the flats, in Eb we know it has 3 of them. B E A. We now go back to our E F G A B C D E alphabet and just change the letters corresponding to the flats we determined to flats in your scale, like this. Eb F Gb Ab B C D Eb, this now makes our Eb Major scale.
    so using the R/3/5 technique we can now make chords or scales.

  • Jamesonwa

    like i say, i like to begin the scale just in basic alphabetical order, such as Eb. starting like this
    E F G A B C D E now, the Root is the “key” your in, so in this case our root is E, just ignore the flat part in Eb for right now, so, to determine the flats, in Eb we know it has 3 of them. B E A. We now go back to our E F G A B C D E alphabet and just change the letters corresponding to the flats we determined to flats in your scale, like this. Eb F Gb Ab B C D Eb, this now makes our Eb Major scale.
    so using the R/3/5 technique we can now make chords or scales.

  • Jamesonwa

    Ignore the scales part in that last sentance, we just use R/3/5 to make our chords and R/3/5/7 to make our 7th chords. and R/3/5/9 to make 9th chords. so on and so forth, 11, 13ths. thats just a little bit much but you get the idea.

  • Jamesonwa

    Ignore the scales part in that last sentance, we just use R/3/5 to make our chords and R/3/5/7 to make our 7th chords. and R/3/5/9 to make 9th chords. so on and so forth, 11, 13ths. thats just a little bit much but you get the idea.

  • Jamesonwa

    Ignore the scales part in that last sentance, we just use R/3/5 to make our chords and R/3/5/7 to make our 7th chords. and R/3/5/9 to make 9th chords. so on and so forth, 11, 13ths. thats just a little bit much but you get the idea.

  • veng

    ok now i could understand.. but as i understand one thing one more question popped out in my mind.. is the circle of fifths used only for Major scales? how about Minor?

  • veng

    ok now i could understand.. but as i understand one thing one more question popped out in my mind.. is the circle of fifths used only for Major scales? how about Minor?

  • Jamesonwa

    the circle of 5ths is a utility for you to use, to determine the sharps and or flats in any given key, its up to you which scales or modes you want to create. here is more info. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_mode

  • Jamesonwa

    the circle of 5ths is a utility for you to use, to determine the sharps and or flats in any given key, its up to you which scales or modes you want to create. here is more info. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_mode

  • Jamesonwa

    the circle of 5ths is a utility for you to use, to determine the sharps and or flats in any given key, its up to you which scales or modes you want to create. here is more info. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Musical_mode

  • Jeff

    For the person asking “is the circle of fifths used only for Major scales? how about Minor?”.. it is used for both although minor is a bit tricky. For minor, your center of reference is A instead of C since A minor has no sharps or flats. But remember in minor (melodic or harmonic) its a bit tricky as the circle of fifths is the key signature of the key which is only a part of the scale.

  • Jeff

    For the person asking “is the circle of fifths used only for Major scales? how about Minor?”.. it is used for both although minor is a bit tricky. For minor, your center of reference is A instead of C since A minor has no sharps or flats. But remember in minor (melodic or harmonic) its a bit tricky as the circle of fifths is the key signature of the key which is only a part of the scale.

  • Jeff

    For the person asking “is the circle of fifths used only for Major scales? how about Minor?”.. it is used for both although minor is a bit tricky. For minor, your center of reference is A instead of C since A minor has no sharps or flats. But remember in minor (melodic or harmonic) its a bit tricky as the circle of fifths is the key signature of the key which is only a part of the scale.

  • Francis Ho

    Sir,

    I would rather say this is a “request”. A very sincere request.
    I would be glad if someone out there could send me a short video clip on how to pronounce the Sharps and flats in ascending and descending order.

    Earlier, I learnt that it is something like – do ‘di’ re ‘ri’ me fa ‘fi’ …..and so on in ascending order and
    do te ‘to’ ra ‘ro’…..etc in descending order. I was or I am confused.

    I would be glad to see a video on the above subject

    Thanks

  • craig

    OK, stupid question…if there are no (B# / Cb) or (E# / Fb) on a guitar or piano, how can they be included in the order of sharps or flats? Is it relative to the key we’re in?

    • http://www.fororchestra.com WaltRibeiro

      its in theory. E# is technically a note – although it’s an F. So there is an F in music. You wouldn’t call them an E# or Cb or anything – unless it a few very rare circumstances (yes, like when they’re relative to a Key Signature).