Friday, July 27, 2007

The Circle of 5ths

Q: Hi Chris,

What is Circle Of Fifths? please tell me about Circle Of Fifths and why it is so important.

Thank you,

A: The circle of fifths is simply a geometric diagram that makes it easy to see the relationship between all the keys in music. If you look at the diagram, you will find the key of C up on top. The key of C is at the top because it has no sharps or flats. The next one to the right is the key of G and it has one sharp (an F sharp by the way). G is a perfect 5th from C, count the notes and you will see: C-D-E-F-G. A perfect 5th from G is D, and the key of D has two sharps so D is the next key after G.
If you go the other way from C (counter clockwise), the diagram becomes the circle of 4ths. C to F is a perfect 4th: C-D-E-F and by moving in this direction, each key will gain a flat.

If you tape the chart on your wall and look at it before you go to sleep, it will start to make sense to you. It simply makes it easy to remember the keys and their corresponding sharps and flats.
I'm going to get into the diatonic system in a second so if you think you aren't going to get it, go here and learn about the major scale and the diatonic system.

Sometimes the circle gets used to make progressions. A good example would be ii-V-Is taken around the circle. So the first one would be a ii-V-I in C: Dmin7-G7-Cmaj7. the next ii-V-I would be taken from the next key down, the key of G: Amin7-D7-Gmaj7, etc.. You could also take the same ii-V-Is the other way aroung the circle of 4ths. Ex: Dmin7-G7-Cmaj7, Gmin7-C7-Fmaj7, Cmin7-F7-Bbmaj7, etc..

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