F-flat major

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F major
Db minor key signature.png
Relative key D minor
enharmonic: C minor
Parallel key F minor
enharmonic: E minor
Dominant key C major
enharmonic: B major
Subdominant Bdouble flat major
enharmonic: A major
Enharmonic E major
Component pitches
F, G, A, Bdouble flat, C, D, E, F
See also: E major

F-flat major is a theoretical key based on F, consisting of the pitches F, G, A, Bdouble flat, C, D, and E. Its key signature has six flats and one double flat.[1]

Its relative minor is D minor, usually replaced by C minor (see reason below) and its parallel minor is F minor, usually replaced by E minor, since F minor's four double-flats make it generally impractical to use.

Although F major is usually notated as its enharmonic equivalent of E major, because E major has 4 sharps only as opposed to F-flat major's 8 flats (including the Bdouble flat), part of Richard Strauss' Metamorphosen uses F major, which one commentator has called "a bitter enharmonic parody" of the earlier manifestations of E major in the piece.[2] Beethoven also used F major in his Piano Sonata No. 31, op. 110. In the first movement's exposition, the transitional passage between the first and second subjects consists of arpeggiated figuration beginning in A major and modulating to the dominant key of E major. In the recapitulation, the key for this passage is changed to bring the second subject back in A major: the transitional passage appears in a key that would theoretically be F major, but which is notated in E major, presumably because Beethoven judged this easier to read - this key being a major third below the key of the earlier appearance of this passage.

Another example of F major being notated as E major can be found in the Adagio of Haydn's Trio No. 27 in A-flat major. The Finale of Bruckner's Symphony No. 4 employs enharmonic E for F, but its Coda employs F directly, with a phrygian cadence through F onto the tonic.[3][4][5]

An example of F major being used directly is in Victor Ewald's Quintet no. 4 in A flat major (Op. 8), where the entirety of the third movement is notated in this key.[6]

The climax that occurs in the middle of Samuel Barber's Adagio for Strings resolves to F major.


  1. ^ Nicolas Slonimsky (1960). The Road to Music. New York: Dodd, Mead, & Co. p. 16. 
  2. ^ Bryan Randolph Gilliam (1998). Richard Strauss: New Perspectives on the Composer and His Work. Duke University Press. p. 237. ISBN 0-8223-2114-9. 
  3. ^ Donald Betts (2005). "Beethoven's Piano Sonata Opus 110". The Inner Voice. 
  4. ^ James Arnold Hepokoski and Warren Darcy (2006). Elements of Sonata Theory: Norms, Types, and Deformations in the Late-Eighteenth-Century Sonata. Oxford University Press. p. 326. ISBN 0-19-514640-9. 
  5. ^ Julian Horton (2004). Bruckner's Symphonies: Analysis, Reception and Cultural Politics. Cambridge University Press. p. 127. ISBN 0-521-82354-4. 
  6. ^ "Ewald: Quintet No 4 in Ab, op 8". Ensemble Publications. Ensemble Publications. Retrieved 1 June 2016.