Circle of 5ths-in layman's terms

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by mrdavek, Jun 28, 2008.

  1. mrdavek

    mrdavek Member

    Messages:
    270
    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2006
    In the long list of things I should know as a player.....The "circle of 5ths" is at the top of the list.

    In layman's terms, what is it and why do I need to understand it?
     
  2. Austinrocks

    Austinrocks Member

    Messages:
    7,026
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2007
    here is a lesson I wrote a while on circle of fifths, just to have it on the thread, you might find something useful

    Circle of 5ths and Circle of 4ths
    The circle of 5th is used to construct Keys in the Diatonic Scale,
    the Diatonic keys are found by adding sharps and flats one way to remember the keys is by a phrase, and knowing that the 7th is added the key name is the next note up, this is a Circle of Fifths, the 5th of C is G, the 5th of G is D, and so on. The Diatonic Keys are developed from this.
    Key of C no sharps or flats.......C D E F G A B
    Father..............key of G.........G A B C D E F#
    Charles ............Key of D.........D E F# G A B C#
    Goes ...............Key of A.........A B C# D E F# G#
    Down ..............Key of E.........E F# G# A B C# D#
    And ................Key of B.........B C# D# E F# G# A#
    Ends ...............Key of F#.......F# G# A# B C# D# E#
    Battle..............Key of C#.......C# D# E# F# G# A# B#
    note that B# is C and E# is F, it just works better to call them by the sharps, that is how it is notated in sheet music,

    Circle of 4ths
    The flats work by reversing the phrase, the previous flat is the key, If you know how they are added, that works, the first one you just know, the flat added is the 4th, which is a harder way to remember it.
    Battle ........... Key of F.........F G A Bb C D E
    Ends .............Key of Bb........Bb C D Eb F G A
    And ..............Key of Eb........Eb F G Ab Bb C D
    Down ............Key of Ab.......Ab Bb C Db Eb F G
    Goes .............Key of Db.......Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C
    Charles'..........Key of Gb.......Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F
    Father...........Key of Cb........Cb Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb
    Fb is E and Cb is B, just works easier to call them flats.

    Some of the Keys are duplicated,
    Key of Db and C# are identical
    Key of Cb and B are identical
    Key of Gb and F# are identical
    Its just how the key is notated, either with flats or sharps.

    Key of B..........B C# D# E F# G# A#
    Key of Cb........Cb Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb
    Key of F#.......F# G# A# B C# D# E#
    Key of Gb.......Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F
    Key of C#.......C# D# E# F# G# A# B#
    Key of Db........Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C

    - Both sides sum to "7"
    C -- 0......................................C# - 7 - F# C# G# D# A# E# B#
    F -- 1 - -Bb..............................F# - 6 - F# C# G# D# A# E#
    Bb - 2 - Bb Eb...........................B - - 5 - F# C# G# D# A#
    Eb - 3 - Bb Eb Ab.......................E - - 4 - F# C# G# D#
    Ab - 4 - Bb Eb Ab Db..................A - - 3 - F# C# G#
    Db - 5 - Bb Eb Ab Db Gb..............D - - 2 - F# C#
    Gb - 6 - Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb..........G - - 1 - F#
    Cb - 7 - Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb Fb......C - - 0
     
  3. Austinrocks

    Austinrocks Member

    Messages:
    7,026
    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2007
    From a practical stand point as a player you may or may not use the circle of 5ths, I play key based. I look at the chords and I know the notes in the chords, and if its diatonic I solo out of the key, some people will use modes of the key, for me the modes are just scales that you can apply along the neck, and I use the notes on the guitar, so modes really are not necessary.

    I can construct a circle of 5ths or 4ths, but the circle really does not do anything practical, its just a way of seeing how the keys build on them selves,

    I know keys, key of G has the notes G A B C D E F# G, key of F has F A Bb C D E F, Key of C has the notes C D E F G A B C ect and so on. I know the sharps or flats of the keys, I use the chord to show me what the sharps and flats are and I play out of the key, the modes are automatic, I know them but I don't play E mixolydian or A dorian, I play the key of A or the key of G.

    however I played piano before guitar, am self taught but I read music, and music has the notes of the key, anyway I know the notes and its automatic to know the key, and its the key that I use for a song. I would suggest making flash cards of the chords and their notes and if the notes are root 3rd or 5th, it should be all the chords so you know them and make flash cards of the keys, all twelve of them.


    Its amazing music has only 12 notes, and so 12 keys, and there are only 12 major chords and 12 minor chords, and most guitar players have no clue what they are, they want to learn patterns, and patterns really don't teach music, they are just patterns.

    Also write out the notes on the guitar, not knowing the notes is really stupid, yeah 24 frets and 6 strings is a 144 notes but do it anyway. You will be amazed how it opens up your playing.


    however there are easy ways extend your playing, the pentatonic scale is a safe scale, it has notes that work for all the modes of a diatonic scale, you can use the chords to determine the pentatonics you can play, and you can extend your playing by learning extended pentatonics will post that lesson as well here, the short form is: if a song has the chords G Am D use the G Major Pentatonic, A Minor Pentatonic and D Major Pentatonic, these are also the E Minor Pentatonic, C Major Pentatonic and B Minor Pentatonic, and they should be that automatic in your head. You don't have to follow the progression you just looking to extend your playing.
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2008
  4. 7/4

    7/4 Member

    Messages:
    550
    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2007
    Start with a 5th, add a 5th and another until you get back to the original note.

    :banana
     
  5. kimock

    kimock Member

    Messages:
    12,604
    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2005
    Location:
    Where the Palm Tree meets the Pine
    The difference is night and day!

    peace.
     
  6. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

    Messages:
    11,781
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Australia

    I'm just quoting this so everyone ,especially me, gets to read it again.
    I'm relieved about the way oyu defined modes, cos that's I see them, and I really thought I was missing something big.
     
  7. The Captain

    The Captain Supporting Member

    Messages:
    11,781
    Joined:
    Dec 5, 2007
    Location:
    Australia
    I'm quoting this cos I like Steve's sense of humour, and there is another excellent poster here who needs to develop one.
     

Share This Page