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Circle of Fifths

  In music theory, the Circle of Fifths shows the relationships among the twelve tones of the chromatic scale, their corresponding key signatures, and the associated major and minor keys. More specifically, it is a geometrical representation of relationships among the 12 pitch classes of the chromatic scale in pitch class space/interval. Musicians and composers use the circle of fifths to understand and describe those relationships. Fifths are musical intervals. The circle of 5ths is an arrangement of the 12 notes of the musical alphabet in a circle. Each note on the circle is a perfect fifth apart.

 

Circle of Fifths

 

 

 The Circle of 5ths is a convenient tool for remembering the Key Signatures of the scale, as we proceed clockwise around the circle the number of sharps in the key signature increases by one, if we proceed counter-clockwise the number of flats increases by one.

  Each note on the circle is an interval of a fifth away from the adjacent notes. Similarly, as in this progression of fifths, if you go clockwise each note is a fourth down from the previous note, and as you go counter-clockwise each note is a fourth above the previous note.

 The circle also expresses whether a particular key change or chord change will sound "smooth" (consonant) or "jarring" (dissonant) or somewhere in between. The rule is that closer the two keys or chords are on the circle, the more consonant it will sound. For example, if you are playing in the key of C, the smoothest modulation is to move to either F or G.
C, F, G, is a typical almost cliche I, IV, V chord progression.

 

It should becomes obvious by the examination of most songs that, just as in the I, IV, V progressions, the closer you stay to a particular segment of the circle the more "harmonious" your composition will sound. For example the C-F-G chord progression, or G-D-A, or C-Am-F-G . These progressions are all within the same small quadrant of the circle of fifths. In contrast the chords that are farthest away from each other within the circle will not sound so harmonious when used together, try using a C -Db- Ab progression and you'll see what I mean.

 

The Outer circle is the key , Middle circle is the complimentary minor key,  and the Inner circle is the number of sharps or flats in that key signature.       

 

Next - How Chords Are Formed

 

The Music Staff | Rests | Dotted Notes | Tied Notes | Timing | Time Signatures | Music Notation | Chromatic Scale | Major Diatonic Scale
Minor Diatonic Scale | Scale Modes | Complimentary Scales | Pentatonic Scale | Blues Scale | Chord Theory | Circle of Fifths
Alternate Guitar Tuning | Finger Picking | More Fingers | Intonation

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