1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Circle of Fifths?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Devin, Jul 25, 2005.

  1. Can someone explain exactly what this is and how I could practice it.
  2. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Do yourself a favour. If you are practicing scales, or anything else in the circle of fifths pattern, practice it counterclockwise. Music tends to move in fourths, not fifths, so practicing the circle backwards will lend itself more to helping your actual playing and makes more sense, IMO.
  3. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    WInter Garden, FL
    Circle of Fifths

    (...oh yeah, try using the search function, it's pretty helpful...;) )
  4. Jazzin'

    Jazzin' ...Bluesin' and Funkin'

    I'm just starting to get into the ii-V-I thing and I know what you mean.
  5. If you had put the word "fifths" (insted of 5ths) anywhere in your post it would be much easier to search for :smug:
  6. mkettner


    Jun 13, 2006
    The Circle of 5ths (or 4ths as some people are asking for it to be called) is an awesome tool for the bassist. I use it all the time in my praise band when transitioning between songs. It just never fails.
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.

    Oh I dunno. Music tends to move around in a lot more directions than just 4ths. I tend to recommend practicing scales in as many different and random ways as possible. The Circle of fifths isn't really a practice tool, it's just what happens as you add accidentals to the key signature. It's a good way to think about how keys relate to each other, a good memorization tool for remembering key signatures. It's a logical approach to practicing sales, but one of many logical approaches.
  8. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    Circle of Fifths is used to modulate to any key - kind of like a map.

    Practice scales and chord patterns clockwise and counter-clockwise.
  9. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    This is a really good point. The advantage of "Circle of Fifths" is that any pattern takes you through all the keys. Nice, but it does limit the ear.

    To break from these patterns I've often told students about "The Triangle of Major Thirds" (C-E-G#(Ab), and "The Square of Minor Thirds" (C-Eb-Gb-A(Bbb), and "The Pentagon of Whole Steps" (C-D-E-F#-G#). Of course that's all a bit of a joke, but it does bring in different ways of practicing.

    Oh, and don't for "The Line of Tritones".
  10. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire

    I see by your profile that perhaps you are somewhat new to studying the bass? The supplied link led me to a very complicated definition. In very simple terms, the circle of fifths refers to a motion.

    The above advice is very good. While Ed F is an excellent musician, his admonishment was just a bit overselous as his Real Book also commonly contains the movement of a fourth from one chord to the next SO many times that it is in fact a good movement to learn to hear and play well.

    Start with using the root motion C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb/F# B E A D G C (cycle of 4ths) as a pattern for practicing one octave major scales. Try beginning each (all) scales on the same string. First, C maj. Then F maj. Then Bb, etc. This will get you shifting up and down the neck, learning the fingerboard, and help overcome the fear of those "no-mans-land" areas on the bass.

    Do the same with minor scales and then dominant scales. (mixolydian). Soon you will be learning to play ii-V-I in all keys!

    Hope this helps.

    Silvio Dante likes this.
  11. slybass3000

    slybass3000 Banned

    Nov 5, 2004
    First, the cycle of fifth IS the most useful way of practicing scales and arpeggios. Why? Because music tends to resolve down in a fifth interval.

    Try this: Play the last five notes of the major scale in a descending manner. You'll get the starting point of a new major scale everytime and it is a very natural way of hearing the resolution of the harmony.
    C-B-A-G-F then F-E-D-C-Bb then Bb-A-G-F-Eb and so on.

    Try the same thing going up and you won't get that same feeling of resolution. Actually, you have the feeling that it never resolves.

    All the songs uses a circle of fifth somewhere. Some tunes are totally based on the cycle of fifths.

    We bassist and guitarist get confused with the cycle of fifths and fourths because our instruments are tuned in fourths. But we are talking about the same thing. The most important part is to make sure that we go C to F,either a fifth down or a fourth up.