How do I Identify the KEY a musical
arrangement is written in by using
The Music Wheel?

Look at The Music Wheel individual slices. The sharps or flats indicated on the staff in each slice are the Key signature. Then look at the music arrangement. Examine the first measure of the music manuscript. Now, compare the Key signature from the first measure of the manuscript with a matching slice of The Music Wheel. Look at the staff. Are there the same number of sharps or flats as the music arrangement displays? When you have located the slice that looks the same, you have successfully identified the Key and its family of chords and relatives. However, you still have one more step.

How can you tell whether it is major or minor without playing it? The easiest way is to look at the last measure of the arrangement—the ending chord. Using the Key of D major, it will be either a “I” major chord=DF#A, or it will be the Key of b minor—the “i” minor chord=BDF#. (This is assuming the arrangement did not modulate somewhere in the middle.)

You can look at the slice that displays the Key of D major. Examine the “I” chord=DF#A.


Now look at the chord structure of the last measure. Can you find DF#A notes there? If not, take a look at the b ”minor chord in The Music Wheel slice. Do you see the notes that make up an “a”minor chord—BDF#?  

Assuming the arrangement is using the grand staff (treble & bass), the chords can be written on the staff in any order. For instance, a D chord may have a D/A combo in the bass staff and an F#,D on the right hand. (When playing the Keyboard from a grand staff arrangement, the notes of the chord will normally be divided between the two hands.)


Likewise, if the arrangement you are looking at has one or more flats, then look for The Music Wheel slice that has the same Key signature. Look at the last chord in the last measure of the arrangement. As demonstrated above, examine the chord in the arrangement and compare it to the matching chord in The Music Wheel slice. Ask yourself the same questions as above.