Key's Corners


Original Musicards game by Joseph E. Reed


Key’s Corners is a fun, scale-spelling game that helps you remember what notes are in a key.



A scale is any set of musical notes ordered by pitch. Scales are built on interval formulas. Diatonic scales use only half steps and whole steps.

An interval is the distance from one musical note (pitch) to another.

A half step (semitone or minor 2nd) is the smallest interval between two adjacent notes in a 12-tone scale (e.g. from C to C#/Db or from E to F).  On the Chromatic Scale clock, this would be advancing from one “hour” to the next. (e.g. from 12 to 1 or from 4 to 5).

A whole step (whole tone or Major 2nd) is two half steps. (e.g. from C to D or from E to F#/Gb). On the Chromatic Scale clock, this would be skipping one “hour”. (e.g. from 12 to 2 or 4 to 6).

The first note of a scale is called the keynote (tonic, root, or “Do” in solfege syllables)

One common scale is the Major scale.  This is spelled by arranging the notes using the following interval formula:

Keynote - whole step - whole step - half step - whole step - whole step - whole step





Decide which scale you will be using for the current round.  If needed, you may write down the scale for reference.


Deal five cards to each player. Put the rest of the cards face down in the center of table to form the stock pile.


Flip four cards face-up from the stock pile, and place them North, East, South, and West around the stock pile, to start four foundation piles.



The player to dealer's left goes first.

Always first, draw until you have 5 cards. (You won’t need to draw on your first hand.)


There are several possible plays:

-Play scale notes in sequence, (starting with the keynote) in the corners.

-Play scale notes in sequence on foundation piles.

-Stack up to four non-scale notes on foundation piles.

-Fill in empty foundation piles.

-Move cards from one pile to another.

-Discard a card that cannot be played on anything else showing.


At the end of your turn, tell the next player that you are done.



The corner spaces (NW, SW, NE, and SE) always start with the keynote or tonic of the scale.  For example, if the scale is D major, (spelled D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#) a D may be played in any of the 4 corners.


Continue playing the notes in order up the scale.

Whoever completes the scale by playing the final note (in this example, a C#) takes the entire scale as a set (book) to be added to their score at the end of the game.


A player may move cards from a foundation pile onto the corner pile as long as the correct sequence of notes is maintained.

Empty corner spaces do not need to be filled.



If a foundation pile is part of the scale sequence, you may play on the pile, continuing up the scale up to the last note of the scale (in this example, C#)


If a foundation pile is not part of the scale sequence (non-scale tones), you can stack up to four of the same card.  For example, “Ab” is not in the D Major scale, so you can stack up to four Ab’s.


Whoever completes a stack by playing the fourth non-scale note, takes the entire stack as a set (book) to be added to their score at the end of the game.


You may move cards from one foundation pile onto another pile as long as the correct sequence of notes is maintained.


Empty foundation pile spaces MUST be filled first, from any cards in the current player’s hand. Then next, (if no more cards in their hand) from the discard pile (top card first).


If the current player runs out of cards to fill the empty foundation piles, and the discard pile is used up, the next player must fill the spaces with cards from their hand.



Instead of playing on one of the foundation or corner piles, you may choose to play one card onto the discard pile (located off to the side of the main board).


If you play a discard, that must be the only card you play for that turn (you may not play other cards and discard as well)


The discard must not be a possible play anywhere else on the board.


The top card of the discard pile may be used for any play showing on the board. But, empty foundation pile spaces must FIRST be filled with cards from the current player’s hand.


Also, a player is not required to play from the discard pile even though it may be a possible play (except for filling empty spaces).



A wild card (“?” or “Chromatic Scale”) can always be used as a substitute for a needed card (player must say what note they are using the wild as).


You must play at least one card on each turn. A discard counts as a play.


If there is a possible play showing on the board during your turn, you must play it.


You are allowed to hold onto playable cards in your hand, as long as the board doesn’t require them.


When the stock pile runs out, play continues as before (except for needing 5 cards) until every player has run out of cards or possible plays.



Each completed scale is worth 10 points

Each non-scale stack of four is worth 5 points.

Whoever gets the most points wins!