Universal key


Universal key

The universal key or universal scale is a concept employed in music theory in which specific notes or chord symbols in a key signature are replaced with numbers or Roman numerals, allowing for a discussion describing relationships between notes or chords that can be universally applied to all key signatures.

For example, in the key of E-flat major, the notes of the scale would be replaced like so:
*"E" becomes scale degree 1
*"F" becomes scale degree 2
*"G" becomes scale degree 3
*"A" becomes scale degree 4
*"B" becomes scale degree 5
*"C" becomes scale degree 6
*"D" becomes scale degree 7

When used with chord symbols, the Roman numerals representing the roots are often written in upper case for chords in the major family, and in lower case for chords in the minor family, with the usual "m" or "—" minor chord delineator omitted outright:

*E becomes I
*Fm7 becomes ii7
*Gm7 becomes iii7
*Amaj7 becomes IVmaj7
*B7 becomes V7
*Cm7 becomes vi7
*Dø7 becomes viiø7


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