Circle of fifths

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by TeleAnthony, Feb 22, 2017.

  1. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    Well, no.
    Most of those guys were big name composers throughout history:

    Pythagoras (may as well start with 'no name guy' #1)
    Philippe de Vitry
    Guido d'Arezzo
    Henry Purcell
    Jean Philippe-Rameau
    Georg Philipp Telemann
    Carl Phillip Emanuel Bach
    Peter Illitch Tchaikovsky
    Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov
    Arnold Schoenberg
    Roger Sessions
    Howard Hanson
    Leos Janacek
    Henry Cowell
    Paul Hindemith
    Milton Babbitt
    Harry Partch
    George Russell
    Yusef Lateef

    Besides great and influential music - these fine gentlemen all wrote harmony, theory and orchestration texts that are still used and referenced today. And that's the short list.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
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  2. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    If this were the extent of my understanding of the circle of 5ths, I suppose I would think it a waste of time for others to pursue, as well.
     
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  3. Maxwell Street

    Maxwell Street Friend of Leo's

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    Zing...! :lol:
     
  4. BartS

    BartS Friend of Leo's

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    If your using the circle of fifths to figure out or understand the major or minors of songs, figure out a key to change to when your writing a song, to write a key signature, to learn to know the key signatures of songs, to write music, chord building. I wouldn't even know where to start. Your suppose to be able to do this stuff at a whim not consulting anything and there are easier ways to teach it that make more cognitive sense. I think the problem with teaching musicians theory that are pianists is there isn't a keyboard in front of them, once you learn to relate everything to a C major scale and how things just chromatically move it makes a difference in understanding this stuff.

    I learned to read music at the age of 4 and at 5 or 6 was learning theory. The problem with theory is people get so wrapped up in it and how it must be write because someone told them so they never think about what's wrong with being taught. On piano if the theory was reworked you could be able to teach kid at those ages 5 to say 8 and have them understand it at a level much better than I did. On other instruments unless it's say a harpsichord I would say not so much.

    I can pick up any instrument and once I learn the basic techniques which for me because I am pretty dexterous from learning other instruments I can become proficient enough to at least play well in a band in a matter of months because I relate everything to the minor scale and just naturally can move things chromatically. I understand the chords in relations to there chromatic intervals. Not on paper either it's just kind of ingrained in a part of me. I can do this because I learned the C scale so well as a kid. Then learning how A minor relates to it and how everything just moves chromatically in a simple fashion. After years of ear training it doesn't matter what mode your in if your playing something in a harmonic minor my ears and brain will relate it back to the major and minor scales of the key that the music is in and if your switching keys to me it's just a basic chord change no math involved.
     
  5. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Sorry I'm late to this discussion. I couldn't figure out the time!

    [​IMG]
     
  6. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    You lost me at the harpsichord.

    Look, this is the 'theory' section of the forum. We talk about this stuff here.
    Yeah, obviously the ears are the final arbiter but since we're all typing and not playing at each other, it's the language/method that we use to communicate.
     
  7. LKB3rd

    LKB3rd Friend of Leo's

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    I agree that there are other ways to understand what the circle of fifths teaches (it teaches me nothing because I know this stuff other ways) which to me at least make more sense.
    What are these things? A dom7 chord wants to resolve down a fifth. I knew this before I ever learned a single thing about music, just because it is so common in the music we all hear. I couldn't have explained it and I didn't understand the theory, but my ear knew it. We all know it's time to clap (resolved) when we hear VVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVVV............ I at the end of a song.
    Key signatures? I don't do a lot of reading so this hardly comes up, but I have those memorized, or I just know the notes of a particular key because... because I do!
     
  8. chris m.

    chris m. Poster Extraordinaire

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    Bart S- you make an interesting comment regarding conventional music theory-- and there are music theoreticians that have developed different ways of thinking about harmony. There is mediant-based analysis, Schenkerian analysis, etc. Mediant is all about the middle tones between root and perfect 5th, e.g. major or minor thirds- for example, how C major, Em, and Am are all very closely related. Some of the very best performing and composing musicians in the world know very little about theory, and vice versa. Someone can learn 100% by ear. Theory just helps explain why we hear notes in various combinations in different ways, including underlying physics (which causes tones played at the same time to create either dissonance or consonance in the form of "roughness" or beats).

    There is no doubt that there are a lot of different ways to teach and learn music theory, and some approaches are unnecessarily obtuse.

    The Wiki on harmonic theory is actually quite excellent IMO. Kind of like an "Idiot's Guide to Music Theory". Here's a great quote from it, and is another reason for the relevance of understanding perfect 4ths and perfect 5ths and why they sound good:

    "Western music is based on major and minor triads. The reason why these chords are so central is that they are consonant in terms of both fusion and lack of roughness. They fuse because they include the perfect fourth/fifth interval. They lack roughness because they lack major and minor second intervals. No other combination of three tones in the chromatic scale satisfies these criteria."

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harmony
     
  9. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    "I can do this because I learned the C scale so well as a kid. Then learning how A minor relates to it and how everything just moves chromatically in a simple fashion. After years of ear training it doesn't matter what mode your in if your playing something in a harmonic minor my ears and brain will relate it back to the major and minor scales of the key that the music is in and if your switching keys to me it's just a basic chord change no math involved."

    Uh, don't look now, Bart, but this is THEORY. You know it and use it whether you want to acknowledge it or not.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2017
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  10. jbmando

    jbmando Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    The circle of fifths is like gravity. You can't get away from the effects of it whether you want to recognize the order of it or not. It just is. If you know that it is, you can use it to your advantage when doing music, whether you're jamming, accompanying, sitting in or composing.
     
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  11. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Here's an example where the COF comes in handy: backcycling. Suppose you want to land on a Bb from two measure before. I think backwards Bb to C to D:

    | Dm7 G7 | Cm7 F7 | Bb!

    Actually, I don't do much thinking: I know to start on the 3rd of Bb, Dm7, but it's compressed thinking from the COF.
     
  12. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Have you noticed that halfway through the circle of 5ths and its inversion or reverse, you get the same note has halfway through the chromatic scale? Ascending and descending. No matter what, that tritone isn't going anywhere.

    Speaking of tritones, play a circle of 5ths using dom7th chords. Look what happens to the tritones formed between the 3rd and 7th.

    I'm sure many of us have gone through the circle of 5ths with dom7 chords by playing the 3 and 7 in descending semitones.
     
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  13. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    The automorphism group of Z12. 'Nuff said.
     
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  14. xafinity

    xafinity Friend of Leo's

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    :D
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
  15. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Larry F, you are one of my favorite cats on the planet.

    I have a question for you, and others (also favorite cats) who understand the circle better than I do: when you say, "go through the circle of fifths", what exactly does that look like? Is it chords, notes, scales. . . ?

    It occurs to me to wonder whether that's what we were doing, years back when I was in a church choir, we'd warm up singing scales: was that piano lady going through the circle?
     
  16. 24 track

    24 track Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    I found the cycle really a great tool to remember the order of sharps and flats in scales EG C-0, G-1 (F#) , D -2 (F#,C#) , A-3 (F# C#, G#) etc. and if you notice for every 5th you add one more sharp,or flat , but if you reverse the order it the intervals are a 4 th apart. purdy simple to me.
     
  17. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    The 'piano lady' may have been going through the circle but usually it's just chromatically ascending major scales to warm up a choir.

    When I think the 'cycle' I usually think chordal.
    Having said that, I rarely think in fifths. I go the other way and think the circle of 4ths. I also don't back cycle (anymore). I front cycle. I learned that from Ted Greene. He liked to say that "music moves forward".
    *And don't get me started on m3 motion.
     
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  18. P Thought

    P Thought Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Thanks, Ken. You too, have "favorite cat" status with me, a poor old lady with more cats than she'll ever be able to handle. So does this mean that "going through the circle of fifths" you play the chords in series, major ones around the outside? Or are you "playing over" the chords? Do you do anything with the minor chords around the inside, or does that get us started on the m3 motion you just now warned me against? :D:confused:
     
  19. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    There are many way to skin that cat (keeping w/the metaphor).

    I'm not sure this will answer your question but this is how I use it.
    Let's say we have an F major chord for 4 measures leading to a Bb.

    The most common way, at least in Jazz, is to adjust diatonically ...
    | Fmaj7 Bbmaj7 | Em7b5 A7+ | Dm7 G13 (or Gm7) | Cm7 F7+ | Bb |
    You notice I moved a #4 from Bb to Em7b5. That keeps it in F major. You can usually replace minors with dominants (and altered). That progression is commonly referred to as 'circle' changes. *Get rid of the Bbmaj7 in bar 1 and you have Blues For Alice changes (Charlie Parker).

    Now you can, and it's very pretty, just progress strictly by 4ths and use the same chord quality i.e., | Fmaj7 Bbmaj7 | Ebmaj7 Abmaj7 | Dbmaj7 Gbmaj7 | Cbmaj7 Fbmaj7 | Bbmaj7 |

    Or, a mix ... | Fmaj7 Bbma7 | Ebmaj7 Abmaj7 | Dm7 G7 | Cm7 F7 | Bb |
    Ab to D is a raised or #4 again and I made it minor. That keeps it (or puts it squarely) in the F/Bb key center.
    You can also use the b5 (tri-tone) substitution trick on the dom7 chords.
    I would probably do it more like this ... | F Bb | Eb Ab | Dm7 Dbm7 or Db7(b5) | Cm7 F7#9 (or Bmaj7 or Bm7 or B7) | Bb |
    Db is the tri-tone substitution of G, B is a tritone from F.
    Whether one chooses minor or dominant is up to your ears or situational.

    Keep in mind I don't actually 'think' about any of this unless I'm explaining it or consciously trying to find substitute harmony for an arrangement.

    *As for the m3 thing ... it's just another really symmetrical way to move.
    Diminished 7th chords repeat every 4 frets (m3 interval)
    Altered dominant chords can be moved in m3s.
    m7b5 (1/2 dim) chords can also move in m3s.
    Those are the obvious ones but also moving add9, sus and m11 chords in m3s is beautiful. Common in modern jazz, rock, impressionistic music, movie music, etc.
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2017
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  20. gionnio

    gionnio Tele-Meister

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    I have questions about the context for this: Would you be adding this chord movement when...
    - Comping behind a soloist with a bass player underpinning the 4 measures of F major?
    - Comping behind a soloist with bass and keyboard players underpinning / embellishing the 4 measures of F major?
    - Adding harmonization while playing a solo passage a la Joe Pass?
    - Incorporating the guide tones of your suggested chords while playing a solo as others comp?
    - Modifying an existing tune to create a new one?
    - All of the above?
    Thx,
    Geo
     
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