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Memorizing Cycle of 4ths [video]

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Stev187, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. Stev187

    Stev187 Peavey MegaBass Club!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Toledo, OH
    Hello All:

    This idea may seem very elementary to some, but I have always had a hard time visualizing the cycle of fourths in my head. A few weeks ago, I came up with a very simple way to play through all the Major keys and try to imprint them in my eyes, ears, brain, and fingers.


    My son shot this very crude 1-take video (he's a bass player, too). It's just under 3 minutes. If you're an accomplished player, you know all of this, but I figured that it might be useful to someone.

    In my experience, we "know" things about music in 4 distinct ways:
    1. Aural Knowledge (hearing)
    2. Motor Knowledge (muscle memory)
    3. Visual Knowledge (sight reading/seeing)
    4. Abstract Knowledge (music theory)
    As I play through this quick exercise, I try to focus on one of these "types" of knowledge as I move around the circle. Because of the natural movment in fourths, it's really easy for your EAR to guide you around the keys; soon your fingers "learn" where those notes are; in my mind I try to "see" the key signature as I play the lick; other times, I try to think about each key while I am playing, recalling what the V chord would be in that key, etc.

    Let me know if you think it's useful, or feel free to provide some constructive criticism. It's done me a world of good as a simple memorization tool. Having an aural, mental, visual, and tactile structure for all 12 keys is a great tool.

  2. MatthewC


    Nov 4, 2012
    Steve, the video is good and instructional. But as it is made for beginners or people who are otherwise just learning theory, I have found it's always best to keep everything diatonic--at least initially. Your lick has that flat VII, which, though stylistic, can really be a bitch to explain to someone not comfortable in theory.

    I believe learning theory should be like medical school: The first year they teach you how the body works. The second year they teach you what goes wrong.

    At first, keep everything diatonic. Then, once there is that basic understanding, you go into how all the rules are broken and why.

    That's just my opinion, though, so take it for what its worth. I am equally as interested in hearing your feedback.
  3. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
    The camera heeds to be steadied. It is a bit off putting.

    Otherwise, thanks for posting. :)
  4. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    Great idea for all licks, major or minor scales... just keep moving around the circle with whatever lick your working on.

    Suggestion: Take that lick and move it around the circle of 4th, but keep the root of the chord on the E string. After you've gone around the circle starting each lick on the E string, move to the A string (alter the lick if you need too) and go around the circle with all roots on the A string. A couple of days with that idea and you'll know the neck very well. Do the D and G string the same way, but you'll need to really alter the lick or come up with a new one... scales are great for this idea.

    Buy a tripod.
  5. Stev187

    Stev187 Peavey MegaBass Club!

    Jan 11, 2011
    Toledo, OH
    LOL. Yeah, sorry about that. We actually have one, but my 11-year old son just picked up the camera during a lesson. Sorry for the "war correspondent" camera work.

    Great comments, and yes... any lick will work. Watching it a couple of times made me realize that this is mostly helpful for me and probably not something others would get a great deal out of; I am just trying to "know" those keys with my ears, eyes, fingers, and mind.

  6. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    First time out of the chute. You done good.

    My mesmeric is;
    See Farmer Brown Eat Apple Dumplings Greasley Cooked.
    See God Destroy All Earth By F#irey C#haos.
    Fat cats go down alleys eating birds.
  7. Jim Carr

    Jim Carr Dr. Jim Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 21, 2006
    Denton, TX or Kailua, HI
    fEARful Kool-Aid dispensing liberal academic card-carrying union member Musicians Local 72-147
    Oddly enough, I find that knowing all scales and intervals makes knowing any interval cycle trivial. No need to memorize, you just know, by sound, name, and by notation.
  8. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Great video, it will click for someone out there......and that's what matters. It's not for those who know, its for those that don't.
    Anything that reinforces learning by practical application is what it is about for me, so well done in showing what can be a complicated idea to some, in a very melodic, easy to hear ( I assume for all ) simple idea.:)
  9. BassyBill

    BassyBill The smooth moderator... Gold Supporting Member

    Mar 12, 2005
    West Midlands UK
    Apropos not a lot, but whenever I see discussion on this topic I'm reminded of this classic track. Enjoy this one on me.