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Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by medownsouth, Jan 17, 2021.
Who knows, I only play in C, A, and E lol...
I’m sure Rick’s a real clever guy and knows his stuff... but it always drives me a bit crazy to see people talking about ‘memorising’ the order of sharps / flats or the circle of fifths. That’s a lot of memory work... but you’ve got a guitar in your hand: the strings are a 4th apart (except G-B) and a 4th is an upside down 5th (which, btw, is why IV is called subdominant). So the sharps sequence is right under your hand: e fret 2, b fret 2, e fret 4, b fret 4, e fret 6, b fret 6, e fret 8. Same for flats — b fret 11, e fret 11, b fret 9, e fret 9, b fret 7, e fret 7, b fret 5.
Likewise if you can read a music stave then the sharps / flats patterns are pretty clear patterns.
You have to memorise something to get started of course — for me, it’s the notes on the stave and where to find them on the guitar. All the rest is easy to work out once you know that.
The key of A has three sharps- F#, C#, and G#, and the key of E has four sharps- F#, C#, G#, and D#
The key of C minor has two flats Bb and Eb, the key of A minor, like C major, has no sharps or flats, and the Key of E minor has one sharp, F#
It's not very hard to remember- going clockwise around the circle of fifths, the new sharp is always the note below the root, so G has F#, D has F# and C#, A has F#, C#, and G#, etc.
Going counterclockwise on the flat keys, the new flat is always the next note to the left, so F has one flat Bb, Bb has Bb and Eb, Eb has Bb, Eb, and Ab, etc.
The inner circle is the minor keys, which have the same sharps or flats as their relative major key above them.
The circle also shows you six of the chords in any key (three major and three minor), except for the 7 in a major key and the 2 in a minor key, which are diminished chords.
The three major chords in a major key are the root, the four, which is to the left of the root in the circle, and the five, which is to the right of the root. And, the three minor chords in a major key are below the three major chords, the two below the four, the three below the five, and the six below the root.
In a minor key, the root, four and five, are still in the same place on the circle in relation to each other, and they are minor chords, while the three above them are the major chords in that key, with the three above the root, the six above the four, and the seven above the five.
So, in a major key, the 1, 4, and 5 are major chords, and the 2, 3, and 6 are minor chords, and the 7 is a diminished chord.
In a minor key the 1, 4, and 5 are minor chords, and the 3, 6, and 7 are major chords, and the 2 is a diminished chord.
Also, the same three are major and the same three are minor, in a Major key and its relative minor.
So, in C major, C, F, and G are major chords, and D, E, and A are minor chords.
In the relative minor key of A minor, C, F, and G are still major chords, and D, E, and A are still minor chords, but they occupy a different place in the scale.
It's really simple when you follow how it's all laid out in the circle.
My partner and I are creatives. He draws/paints while I noodle. We go back and forth in theory all day. Circle of fifths looks like the color wheel. We talk about how it’s a language and if you know some...you can figure out the rest. I’m an undisciplined finger flinger! I like to pick a random note and work my way into and out of whatever scale comes along the way.
Thanks for the good post OP.
Like @Festofish I like to "explore", just walking around intervals and working them into repeatable phrases and rhythms and developing some muscle memory, harmonizing them, letting my mind wander.
@Wallaby lately my guy will put a blind fold on and auto draw while I’m dancing around the fretboard and twiddling my knobs.