F Sharp Major or G Flat Major: The Wallflower
Our “Chord of the Week” today is F-sharp, or as its enharmonic equivalent in known, G-flat. So get ready to look at the F-sharp guitar chord, explore its key’s background in classical and popular music, talk about how it’s played on the guitar, and play through a few of its more popular songs and chord progressions!
This key is known for being a kind of sigh of relief, the key that says, “Whew! Thank God that’s over!” It’s how you feel when you’ve gotten through something, painful, hard, or disturbing.
Because both F-sharp and G-flat have the same number of accidentals (F sharp has six sharps and G flat has six flats) there’s little advantage to composers to using one key signature or the other unless they like sharps better than flats, or vice versa. Composers who need to write for Bb and Eb instruments like the clarinet and the baritone saxophone will sometimes choose to write in Gb because it’s easier to transpose, but for most composers it makes little difference.
Sadly, this key just doesn’t get used much, no matter how you name it or notate it. Which means it’s just waiting for a guitarist like you to take its hand and get it dancing!
F# is rare in orchestral classical music but it does appear more often in piano music. It does make a brief appearance in the minuet section of Joseph Haydn’s “Farewell” Symphony and in Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2. Mahler, Scriabin, and Messiaen are just a few modern composers who’ve written in this key.
The F# Major Chord Position on the Guitar: Just like the F Chord, Up One Fret
We’ve already talked to you about the F chord here. The reason we’re bringing it up now is that the F# chord is exactly the same, just moved up one fret. F# is just one half tone above F, so it follows that the F# chord is just one fret (which is a half tone) above the F chord.
The difficulty with this chord, as with the F, is the struggle of holding all those strings down and still making it sound good, that is, with no buzzing strings or “dead” notes. But practice makes perfect, and our Uberchord app is your best buddy in improving your guitar sound.
As you improve your playing enough to attempt progressions of chords that are hard to switch between, you can program the progressions themselves into the app and get helpful feedback. (See our blog for five great tips on how to learn new chords more easily.)
Theory and Practice: The Pattern of the F# Major Scale Explained
The scale of the key of F# major is made up of F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D#, and E#. Every note is sharp except the fourth note— B.
This is the F# major scale, with F# at its root and another F#, an octave higher, at its highest point. As you can see, the only note that isn’t sharp is B.
The F# major chord, which forms the root of the F# major scale, is made up of the notes F#, A#, and C#— the first, third, and fifth notes of the key of F# major. On the guitar, using the basic F# chord position shown in the diagram above, these notes arrive in this order: F#, C#F#, B, C#, and F#.
Chords and Common Chord Progressions in the Key of F# Major
If you wanted to use every chord in the key of F# major, the following would be the chords you’d play:
F# major, G# minor, A# minor, B major, C# major, D# minor, and E# diminished
The following are a few more chord progressions in the key of F# major or Gb major.
“It’s Been Nice,” as sung by The Everly Brothers
(All chords are major unless listed otherwise.)
- F#—B—C#— F#
- F# – C# – D#min – B
- F#– D#min —B – C#
- F# – C# – D#min – A#min – B – F# – B – C#
- (Blues) F# – F# – F# – F#– B – B – F#– F# – C# – C# – F# – F#
- G#min – B – C#
- F# – B – C# – B
- C# – B – F#
- D#min – B – F# – C#
Songs in the Key of F# Major: Relax and Get Over it
Have you ever noticed, when switching between different keys, that the mood of a song changes slightly when you change the key? If so, you’re not alone. For centuries composers and music scholars have noted that each key has its own peculiar emotional character.
The key of F# major, as we’ve already pointed out, manifests a feeling of being glad that the hard stuff is over and that now we can relax and enjoy life!
Guns & Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine
Guns N’ Roses – Sweet Child O’ Mine (Acoustic Version)
F# can be the key of a “right back atcha” from a successful entertainer to a girl who once gave him the “loser” sign, like Smashmouth’s “All-Star.”
Guns N’ Roses – Patience
Stevie Wonder – Superstition
Coldplay – A Sky Full of Stars
Want to be a maverick? Stand out from the crowd? Using the key and chords of F# major makes you different, unique, unusual. Besides, there’s nothing like it for expressing the joy of relief!