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Help With Circle Of Fifths Diagrams

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Bryan R. Tyler, Aug 2, 2005.

  1. Bryan R. Tyler

    Bryan R. Tyler TalkBass: Usurping My Practice Time Since 2002 Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    May 3, 2002
    This is the diagram I've been using- I got it online then added the number of sharps and flats next to each note:

    I've been making some study sheets for myself, and had a few questions about some things and for the usefulness of adding some stuff to this diagram.

    1. Are C# and Cb used rarely enough where I shouldn't need to add them onto the sheet on the first circle? It would seem much easier to use always use Db and B, but I didn't know if there was any good reason to add them on (other than that they represent the scales with 7#s and 7bs).

    2. I'm also writing scale sheets of the majors and their relative minors to go along with the circle.
    Should I not include the Cb major scale? I could add C# to the relative minor side of the sheet because it's also the natural minor of E, but I don't see where Cb would fit in other than if you include it in the outer circle because of its 7bs.
    If I don't add the Cb major scale, I imagine I wouldn't add the C# major scale and the A# relative minor scale as well. Is this advisable?

    3. I've seen a circle of fifths designed like this before:
    This would be a bad representation of the circle because it shows only the sharps and could be confusing because of it would repeat the number of sharps listed on the other side of the circle (ex. the keys of both A# and D would have two sharps), correct?

    Because of this, do you never see songs with key signatures of A#, D#, G#, etc., to avoid confusion as to what key is being played based on the staff diagram (so if you saw two sharps written on the staff, you'd know the key was D and not A#)?

    If so, should I not include the A# scale?

    4. I was thinking about adding on the enharmonic equivalents to the whole left side of the circle in a smaller font and in parenthesis. That way when I glance down at the circle to see what notes make up the B major scale, I could easily see the five sharps that it's made up of rather than having to think of the enharmonics of the flats that are normally listed. Or would you suggest I just memorize the names of both notes of the enharmonics better so I don't need the added lettering?

    Thanks guys.
  2. dlloyd

    dlloyd zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

    Apr 21, 2004
    When it comes to the cycle of fifths, those wheel diagrams have one major problem in that, at some point, enharmonic equivalents get brought into play.

    B# is not the same as C, even though it is played in the same position and sounds the same.

    It might seem a bit retentive to say that, but avoiding it makes the whole thing easier, and theoretically more sound.

    I was taught this mnemonic phrase when I was 8 years old, and it's all I've ever needed to remember the cycle of fifths...

    Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle

    No study involved... it just stuck there in my brain.

    It was taught in the context of key signatures. If you have one sharp in the key signature, that sharp will be F#. If there's three (Father Charles Goes) the sharps will be F#, C#, G#.

    It works backwards for flats.

    Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father

    Five flats, they're going to be (Battle Ends And Down Goes) Bb, Eb, Ab, Db and Gb

    It also works for working out the key from the key signature. All you do is start from C, which has no sharps or flats.

    Six sharps...

    (...Charles) Goes Down And Ends Battle

    B major.