22 Aug

formula for figuring out keys

I was just looking at scales and trying to memorise how many sharps and flats each key has.

In short: count the sharps. multiply by 7. divide by 12. add the remainder in semi-tones to C. that’s the key. For flats, subtract the remainder from C.

The usual way to do this is to use the “circle of fifths” diagram:

In that, you count clockwise from C to find keys with sharps in them, and anti-clockwise for flats.

For example:

This key has 3 sharps, so you count three keys to the right of C, and that makes it A major.

If you want the minor key, then do the same, but then subtract 3 semi-tones from it, and you get F#m.

Now, what if you’ve a crap memory like me? There’s no bloody way I could remember a complex diagram like that.

Simple – let’s look at another variant of the diagram:

In this diagram, in order to figure out the key, you follow the lines; anti-clockwise for sharps, and clockwise for flats. For a key with 3 sharps, you start on C, then follow the lines 3 times, through G and D to A.

Yes, it’s another diagram, but look at the lines – they’re perfectly regular, which means that a formula can be built from it.

The formula is simply this: sharps * 7 % 12. Then add the result in semi-tones to C and you get the answer.


  • 1 sharp: 1*7=7. 7%12=7. 7 is G
  • 2 sharps: 2*7=14. 14%12=2. 2 is D
  • 3 sharps: 3*7=21. 21%12=9. 9 is A

For flats, subtract the result from 12 to get the answer:

  • 1 flat: 1*7=7. 7%12=7. 12-7=5. 5 is F
  • 2 flats: 2*7=14. 14%12=2. 12-2=10. 10 is B♭
  • 3 flats: 3*7=21. 21%12=9. 12-9=3. 3 is E♭
19 Jul

a few piano pieces

I started learning piano a few months ago. I’ll be going for the Grade 1 exam in September.

There are a few reasons I wanted to learn. Partly, it’s because there was an upright piano in my sitting-room, just looking at me as if waiting. But mostly, it was because I want to understand music.

I mean really, what the hell is music? Why does some music sound good and other music sound awful? Why is it that some people have different opinions about what is good music?

In order to figure it out, I’ve been trying my hand at writing little pieces and learning to play them.

These can in no way be considered professional attempts. They are amateur at best, and just my way of feeling along and figuring out what I’m doing.

I’ve no way of recording myself (an iphone’s camera is just not good enough), so I’ve supplied midi, and mp3 renderings of the midi, as well as the sheet in PDF form.

tune 6 – baroqueish

This one’s from this morning. I was lying in bed trying to sleep while the kids and Bronwyn did there best to not disturb me while jumping on the bed beside me, and this came to me. I rolled out of bed and turned on the computer to write it down.

It feels to me like a light-hearted baroque piece. I hesitate to even use that word because I’m not certain what it means, but I think it’s right.

midi rosegarden pdf mp3

tune 2 – the sad one

I can’t remember when this one came to me. It’s been floating in my head for a few years. It’s a bit more “modern” than my usual stuff.

midi rosegarden pdf mp3

tune 3 – icecream!

I originally wrote this one years ago and didn’t like it at the time. I like it now. It reminds me of ice-cream vans and the excitement we’d all feel as a kid when the ice-cream van would come around.

midi rosegarden pdf mp3

tune 5 – fall and rise

This one’s more of an exercise than a tune, although I suppose maybe something could be made of it. It’s a few arpeggio triplets over a slow descending then rising scale.

midi rosegarden pdf mp3

17 Apr

update on Me

Quick update of what’s happening in the world of Kae.

I’ve been busy recently with a new project in the office, making an ultra-WebME system which can be used by companies who are not web designers, to offer their clients “pre-packaged” websites. I may elaborate on that in a few weeks once the pilot study is out of the way.

I haven’t touched the KFM file manager project in ages, and recently realised that it’s because I’m just not happy with it anymore. It’s monstrously complex now, and just not flexible enough for the changes I want to build into it. So, I’m seriously thinking of rewriting it completely, or building a new file manager project to compete with it.

WebME is progressing quickly. The plugins architecture is damned easy to use, if I do say so myself. So much so that Conor wrote a mailing-list plugin before I even got to announce the plugin system. To try it out, get the Subversion copy of WebME, and also the subversion copy of the existing plugins (svn checkout http://webworks-webme.googlecode.com/svn/ww.plugins/) and create a symbolic link from ‘ww.plugins’ in the root of your WebME installation to the checked-out ww.plugins directory. Then in the /ww.admin section, go to Site Options > Plugins and try some stuff. I’ll be writing a proper tutorial on how to create a plugin. Probably today.

I started learning piano at the beginning of last month and am proud to say that I appear to be learning at a prodigious rate. This is probably because I can already play well on a number of other instruments. Last tune I learned was Ecossaise in E Flat by Beethoven (WoO 86), played here by Matt Baker:

Before that was I’ll Take You Home Kathleen, played here by Dave Seddon on steel guitar (couldn’t find a piano version that wasn’t ruined by people singing over the music 😉 ):

I’m still in quite a lot of pain since last week’s operation, but hopefully it will ease off over the weekend, as I have the next chapter of my book to submit.