A major

music scale

A major (or the key of A) is a major scale with a base note of A. Its key signature has three sharps.

A major
A Major key signature.png
Relative key F minor
Parallel key A minor
Notes in this scale
A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A

Its relative minor is F-sharp minor. The key of A-major is the only key where a Neapolitan sixth chord on needs both a flat and a natural accidental.

There are not as many symphonies in A major as in D major or G major, but more than other sharp keys. Beethoven's Symphony No. 7, Bruckner's Symphony No. 6 and Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 4 are almost all the symphonies in this key in the Romantic era. Mozart's Clarinet Concerto and Clarinet Quintet are both in A major. Mozart used clarinets in A major often.[1]

In chamber music, A major is used a lot. Johannes Brahms, César Franck, and Gabriel Fauré wrote violin sonatas in A major. Peter Cropper said that A major "is the fullest sounding key for the violin.", when he was talking about Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata.[2]

According to Christian Friedrich Daniel Schubart, A major is a key that is good for "declarations of innocent love, ... hope of seeing one's beloved again when parting; youthful cheerfulness and trust in God."[3]

Ascending and descending A major scale.

When music for orchestra is in A major, the timpani are normally set to A and E a fifth apart. In most other keys, they are set a fourth apart.


  1. Mark Anson-Cartwright, "Chromatic Features of E♭-Major Works of the Classical Period" Music Theory Spectrum 22 2 (2000): 178
  2. Peter Cropper "Beethoven's Violin Sonata in A major, Op.47 'Kreutzer': First Movement" The Strad March 2009, p. 64
  3. Rita Steblin: A History of Key Characteristics in the Eighteenth and Early Nineteenth Centuries (Rochester, University of Rochester Press: 1996) p. 123
  • Colin Lawson, Mozart: Clarinet Concerto, A Cambridge Music Handbook, Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Scales and keysEdit