If you’re a new songwriter or new to sheet music, a key signature may look like an ancient hieroglyph to you. It looks far more complicated than it is! Once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty easy. I’ll show you here.
First: What is a key signature?
This is a very brief definition I put inside my book which isn’t technically “needed” when hiring a session singer, but it’s a little piece of info I thought might help some people.
Basically, a key signature tells us what key a song is in (I wrote a post on song keys here). It is shown on the left of the staff, like this:
This is a comprehensive one for singers. Really though, if you can’t read music, and/or the singer can’t either, it’s not really necessary.
When I first started writing music (around age 7 or so, so don’t judge too harshly please!) I thought the ONLY way to write songs was to chart them out on a staff. Of course, I had no idea how to do that, and I spent many frustrating weeks attempting to write a complete song. Spoiler alert: it was terrible, and I wadded it up and threw it away in frustration. I wish I had saved it so I could look back on it now!
Today, I can read sheet music, although I can’t sight read. Knowing key signatures is helpful when creating harmonies and playing the notes if sheet music is provided, but it isn’t necessary. If you’re a struggling songwriter, don’t make the same mistakes I made! It doesn’t have to be “perfect” (and really, it never will be because it’s an art and art is subjective). Create what’s in your heart. If you don’t know how to write it down, don’t bother. Record it straight into your computer or phone.
If you’ve passed that stage and are looking for a session singer, please let me know! If you need help with production or mixing, let us know that too.