The Circle of 5ths

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by rough eye, Jun 30, 2020 at 7:21 PM.

  1. rough eye

    rough eye Tele-Meister

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  2. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

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    Interesting, and I would say reasonably succinct.
    Most musicians come from one of two worlds in music.....self-taught, learn by ear.....or formal training, "educated". (for lack of a better term) I'm fortunate that I come from both. I began formal training and lessons at a very early age, with piano and violin lessons and incredible choral training by a master choir director at church. But I was also bitten by the folk music bug in my pre-teens, and then R&R as I was hitting my teens, and that was all learning by ear and simply "figuring" stuff out on guitar. At one point, I was studying violin with a professor of violin at TCU, and he was also Concert Master with the Ft Worth Symphony Orchestra. One lesson, he decided to throw in some theory, and drew out the circle of fourths and fifths for me to study and memorize. I looked at it a second, and then said I know all these. Every folk and rock song I ever learned was based on (usually) I, IV, V, I......and the relative minors. I didn't know it was CALLED the circle of fifths, but I knew it anyway. He laughed, and removed the page he'd written on, and proceeded to quiz me on everything. Some of them I had to mentally finger a guitar fingerboard to know them, but he was impressed that I had this very basic and fundamental knowledge down. To me this simply demonstrates that even untaught self-learners know more music theory than they often suspect.
     
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  3. rough eye

    rough eye Tele-Meister

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    nice. i came from somewhat similar background, i guess. i started studying classical guitar at a young age, but in the meantime i was figuring out stuff off records. in my experience guitar players are the worst when it comes to reading music, so i had a little bit of an edge there. but i think guitar players are generally better at figuring stuff out by ear than, say, piano players, for example.

    one thing i tried to illustrate in the article is how many people don't see the relationship between the diatonic, pentatonic scales, and the chords. this is why i feel using terms like "3 sharps" to denote a key is more accurate than saying it's in A major, or E mixolydian. each pentatonic can overlap 3 keys, can be major or minor, so in this way there's really only one possible pentatonic scale (it's just a matter of learning all the fingerings). Same with chords; each set of adjacent 3, 4, or 5 chords can exist within a few keys.

    one of these days i'll put up part 2, and explore major and minor 3rds, etc.
     
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  4. DougM

    DougM Friend of Leo's

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    You have it backwards. The sharp keys should be on the right, going clockwise, and the flat keys on the left, going counter-clockwise. What you have is the circle of fourths, not the circle of fifths. Circle-of-fifths.jpg
    Also, you should show how a 5th up is a 4th down, and a 3rd up is a 6th down, etc. It always adds up to nine. And the nearly related keys, whether moving clockwise or counterclockwise, only have one note different from the starting key. The key of G only has one note different than C, the F#, and the key of F has only one note different than C, the Bb. Moving through the sharp keys, the note that changes from the last key is always the note before the root. They key of G has one sharp, F#, the key of D has two, F# and C#, the key of A has three, F#, C#, and G#, etc. Moving through the flat keys, the next note to change is always the next one in the circle, a fourth away. The key of F has one flat, which is Bb, the key of Bb has two, Bb and Eb, the key of Eb has three Bb, Eb, and Ab, etc.
    And, notice how the key of F# is also the key of Gb, each with 6 sharps or flats, and the key of Db, with 5 flats, can also be expressed as the key of C#, with all seven notes sharped, lol.
    Of course, a B# is C, and an E# is F, lol. 'cause there's actually no B# or Cb, or E# or Fb, 'cause a Cb is B, and an Fb is E.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020 at 1:47 AM
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  5. brokenbones

    brokenbones Tele-Holic

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    Discovered this and the Camelot Wheel a few years back. Now i'm using harmonic mixing to craft all of our band's setlists. I even have a fancy macro that allows me to pop in a Camelot number and it will return all the compatible keys. Good stuff to know when writing setlists.
     
  6. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Personally, I think in 4ths more often than 5ths but as DougM correctly points out - you might wanna tweak your web page.
     
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  7. DougM

    DougM Friend of Leo's

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    Except the sharp keys are guitar friendly keys, while the flat keys are horn keys, but not nearly as guitar friendly. And, of course the 1, 4, and 5 are the most common chords in any style of music. That's why they're called the tonic, sub-dominant, and dominant.
     
  8. stantheman

    stantheman Doctor of Teleocity

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    “How can I hit when You want me think?” -Yogi Berra.
     
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  9. kennl

    kennl Tele-Afflicted

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    please explain how C#is guitar-friendly while Eb is not
     
  10. gwjensen

    gwjensen Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    that confused me as well. It’s labeled circle of 5ths but all the notes are ascending and descending in 4ths....
     
  11. DougM

    DougM Friend of Leo's

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    WTF are you talking about? C# is one of the flat keys, ie. Db. If you're talking about C#m, it's the same as E major, and you can't get any more guitar friendly than that! DUH!
    The flat keys are F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, etc.
    The sharp keys are G, D, A, E, B, etc.
    I rest my case.
     
  12. DougM

    DougM Friend of Leo's

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    It can't be 4ths ascending and descending. C to G is a 5th, but going the other way G to C is a 4th. A 5th up is a 4th down, while a 4th up is a 5th down. A 3rd up is a 6th down, a 6th up is a 3rd down, a 2nd up is a 7th down, a 7th up is a 2nd down. It always adds up to 9.
     
  13. gwjensen

    gwjensen Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    This is image I was referring to inside the link. It's all 4ths in both directions. That's not the circle of fifths that I know...
    [​IMG]
     
  14. hepular

    hepular Tele-Meister

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    butts in: my first guitar teacher was guitarist for tcu jazz band, mid, late 70s
     
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  15. hepular

    hepular Tele-Meister

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    well, not on a piano there isn't a b# . . . but a guitar or violin etc can get to the microtone
     
  16. gaddis

    gaddis Tele-Afflicted

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    After 52 years of playing guitar, I still don't see the usefulness of the Circle of Fifths for a guitarist. The Circle of Fifths turns musical relationships into geometry. This is just fine, but the fingerboard on your guitar also turns musical relationships into geometry. If you know the notes on the fingerboard, then you eventually will have figured out all the shapes of intervals, etc. I can see it's usefulness for other instruments, but for something like a guitar, I just don't get it.
     
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  17. teletail

    teletail Tele-Holic

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    Well, 12 bar progressions which are based on I, IV, V relationships come to mind. Any country music where you alternate root, 5th in your bass line. I'm hard pressed to think of a single genre where it's not immensely helpful to be able to identify the IV and the V without even having to think. All blues, rock, country, Motown tunes are rooted in I, IV, V relationships.

    Unimaginative "musicians" turn musical relationships into geometry, not The Circle of Fifths.
     
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  18. kennl

    kennl Tele-Afflicted

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    If I needed to cold read a chart, i’d prefer F or Bb To C# or B.
    So, is F# / Gb a guitar or horn key?
     
  19. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    Yes, they are "string friendly" keys.
    I just meant that motion or movement wise, I tend to think in 4ths, not key specific.
    *I play a lot of jazz. I play in flat keys way more often than sharp keys.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2020 at 11:55 AM
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  20. nojazzhere

    nojazzhere Doctor of Teleocity

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    gaddis.....I would echo what teletail just said, but will add......you likely know more "music theory" than you're aware of. If you KNOW chord relationships on your guitar, then you KNOW the circles of fourths and fifths, as well as probably a lot more.
    I've known car mechanics who could take apart a carburetor and rebuild it to perfection, without knowing what each individual part was called, and that's OK......but if he needs to talk to another mechanic or parts-counter guy, he needs the vocabulary to effectively communicate with those people. That's what a knowledge of musical terms and theory allow you to do with other "knowledgeable" musicians. Whether you think you need it or not, "knowledge" is NEVER a bad or worthless thing. :):):)
     
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