Circle of fifths help

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by Trist6075, Oct 5, 2001.

  1. Trist6075

    Trist6075 Guest

    Mar 6, 2001
    I'm trying to learn the C.O.fifths/fourths. I'm having trouble memorizing which notes have how many sharps/flats, and which notes they are. Does anyone have a good practice method to help me learn?
  2. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Imagine the middle C on the piano (C1).
    One fifth up from the C is G major which has 1 # (F raised to F#).Another fifth up from G is D major (F# and C raised to C#). Just keep stacking up fifths and you'll get the connection between the circle of fifths. (5 sharps is 5 fifths up from C1).

    The same method is used for flats, except backwards. Go fifths down from C1. The first would be F major (or D minor - which is its relative minor) that has one flat (B to Bb).

    Sorry If I'm not too good at explaing this stuff, but once you get the big picture it's easy.

    I'm not sure if you know about relative minors and stuff essentially every Major key has a minor key counterpart , in other words, they share the same number of flats/sharps. Example:
    C major has no flats or sharps, neither has A minor
    G major has one (#) and so does E minor
    F major has one (b) and so does D minor

    Bleh. OK good luck
    PS. Simon Gallup from the cure owns all.

  3. brianrost

    brianrost Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 26, 2000
    Boston, Taxachusetts
    Let me add this to what Lovebown said.

    When going in the direction of SHARP keys, the next note to be sharped is always the 7th note in the new scale, i.e. one less than the key (root) note.

    So in G, it's F#. In D, C#, etc.

    Flats are a bit harder to remember because it's the FOURTH note in the new scale being flatted. So in F, Bb (scale is F G A Bb...), key of Bb add Eb, key of Eb add Ab, etc.

    Once you get to six sharps or six flats you're actually repeating. In direction of sharp keys:

    C G D A E B F#... but F# is same as Gb.

    In direction of flat keys:

    C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb...which is F#.

    While you can write music in keys like A#, few people do, because it's easier to read it if written as Bb.

    Hope this helps, it can definitely be confusing at first.
  4. Bass Guitar

    Bass Guitar Supporting Member

    Aug 13, 2001
    Two diagrams to go with the excellent explanations above that may help you to remember visually...


  5. melvin


    Apr 28, 2001
    A way to remember the flats is that the last flat that you added is gonna be the name of the next key (adding another flat) Example: Key of Bb, its after key of F, which has one flat, Bb. Hope that made sense. And another way with flats is it goes B, then E, then A, then D, it spells BEAD.
  6. Trist6075

    Trist6075 Guest

    Mar 6, 2001
    Thanks, I'll practice.
  7. BAM!!!

    Been there, done that, wrote the post....

  8. What they all said about sharps and flats. :)

    But what about good mnemonics for the circle of fifths? Best I've heard so far (taking on all comers :D):

    Father Charley Gets Drunk At Every Bar.

    Circle of fourths? Spells bead, then just remember gcf? Anyone have a good one?