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Music Theory Quiz - Test your knowledge of KEYS

Updated on January 30, 2013

Musicians, music students and anyone remotely interested, test your knowledge of keys in music with this simple quiz - (simple if you know keys, not so simple if you don't). The answers are explained in detail in the tutorial section below.below.

How did you do?

For any you might have got wrong, check out the answers explanation below for more detailed info.

Answers explained

  1. Which major key uses a key signature of three sharps?
    A MAJOR. The three sharps of this key are F sharp, C sharp, and G sharp.
  2. Which key is the relative minor of D Major?
    B MINOR. In relation to any major key, the relative minor key is the minor key that has exactly the same notes, although different key notes (tonal centres) as the major key. If you compare the scale of D major with that of B (natural) minor, you'll see they have the same notes.
    D major > DEF#GABC#D
    B minor > BC#DEF#GAB
    Conversely, the key of D major is the relative major key of B minor. Both keys are equal in status and both use the same key signature of two sharps (F# & C#).
  3. Which key is the parallel minor of C Major?
    C MINOR. Parallel major and minor keys are keys with the same key note (also called the tonic). Parallel keys are very closely related. Having the same tonic, the difference between them is considered to be simply a difference of mode (major and minor mode).
  4. Which key signature is used to notate music in the key of E Major?
    The key signature of four sharps (F#, C#, G# D#).
  5. The process of changing key within the course of a piece of music is called what?
    MODULATION - A lot of music (especially classical music) is composed with changes of key within the music. The key change (modulation) can be done abruptly or via an elegant string of chords that subtly shift the tonal centre of the music. A new tonal centre will gradually emerge as a strong 'home' note, and a new key will be established.
    Transposition can often be associated with changing key too, but it refers to shifting the pitch of an existing piece of music and rendering it in a new key, (or the same key if the pitch shift is one or more octaves), not to music composed with key changes.
  6. A song in a major key using chords borrowed from the parallel minor key is an example of what?
    MODE MIXTURE - As parallel major and minor keys have the same tonic or key note, borrowing chords from each other provides a richer chord choice for songwriting and composing. Songs in major keys with chords borrowed from the parallel minor key are more common than the other way round. An example would be a song in the key of C major containing the chord F minor. The chord, F minor, doesn't naturally occur in the key of C major, but is the subdominant chord of the key of C minor. Mode mixture is also called modal interchange.
  7. Which key is enharmonic to B major?
    C FLAT MAJOR. Keys that are enharmonic, (or eharmonically equivant) are those that have exactly the same pitches, but named differently. Every note of C flat major has a corresponding, identical sounding note with a different name in the key of B major. F sharp major and G flat major are another example of keys that are enharmonic. The term enharmonic can be applied to keys, scales, chords and notes.
  8. In the key of F Major, the chord C7 is called what?
    The DOMINANT 7th. Although this term is often used to describe a type of chord, its true meaning is that type of chord built on the dominant scale degree, which is the 5th scale degree of major and minor scales. This chord is also commonly shown as V7 (V being the Roman numeral referring to the chord built on the 5th scale degree).
  9. Which of the following is a wrong term?
    D HARMONIC MINOR is a scale not a key. Anyone composing in the key of D minor (or any minor key), will freely use notes of any form of the minor scale, including the harmonic minor, but the key of the music will just be called D minor.
  10. Which of the following keys has more sharps than can be represented by a standard key signature?
    G SHARP MAJOR has eight sharps, one of them being a double sharp (F##). Any key with more than seven sharps or seven flats can't be accommodated by a standard key signature, and those keys are generally ignored in music. Most aren't considered valid keys, but some can make appearances in music, usually briefly and without any change of key signature but by using accidentals as required.


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