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Teach me the Circle of Fifths like you would a 5 year old

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by BullHorn, Apr 2, 2014.

  1. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006
    I've watched at least 5 different YouTube videos about the Circle of Fifths, I'm getting it.

    What I need now is to figure how to remember it by heart and how to make use of it.

    I think if I could find a way to make use of it, eventually I'll remember it. But when I try to remember it without knowing what to do with it, it feels like I'm trying to remember Pi to 200 decimal places.
  2. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
  3. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006

    But maybe I wasn't clear about what exactly I need. I need ways to practice or utilize the Circle of Fifths. I understood it but I haven't memorized it - because I don't know how.
  4. davidhilton

    davidhilton Supporting Member Commercial User

    Apr 13, 2009
    Los Angeles, CA
    get a teacher dude.
  5. bluesdogblues


    Nov 13, 2007
    If you listen carefully, actually many songs (Jazz or even pop) somehow contained (part of) the circle.
  6. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006
    Thanks. It might be common where you live, but where I live that's 9 hours worth of minimum wage for a 1 hour lesson. :ninja:

    I already remember the Circle of Fourths thanks to remembering how the bass is tuned. I guess I just have to force myself to remember the other side.
  7. fearceol


    Nov 14, 2006
  8. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006
  9. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    If you know the Fourths, then the Fifths are just backwards. Work on the opposite way.
  10. BullHorn


    Nov 23, 2006
    So let's see if I got this.

    The order of adding sharps is FCGDAEB
    The order of adding flats is BEADGCF

    I'll have to remember the order of the 5ths/4ths without looking at the circle each time...
  11. Freddels

    Freddels Musical Anarchist

    Apr 7, 2005
    Sutton, MA
    Not quite. You should start with C (since there are no accidentals).

    C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb/F# B E A D G C

    C G D A E B F#/Gb Db Ab Eb Bb F C

    Work with arpeggios (triads are fine). Start with major triads.

    Start on C. Play the major triad. C - E - G. Then up a fourth to F. Play F - A - C. Then to B flat. and so on.

    Then work the other way. Start on C, then G, then D, and so on. Say the root of the arpeggio out loud as you play it. You may want to start saying C major, F major, etc. because after you get those down, you start doing the same exercise with the minor triads.
  12. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    The circle - for me is a cheat sheet that can remind me of things, i.e. I look at it not as something to learn, but, something to jog my memory. To answer your question.....

    The order of the flats are:
    See Farmer Brown Eating Apple Dumplings Greasly Cooked.

    The order of the sharps are:
    See God Destroy All Earth By F#irey C#haos.

    The order of the flats are -- just tick of Farmer Brown.
    The order of the sharps are -- Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Birds.

    If you want to remember what a I-IV-V in C would be -- turn the circle so C is at 12:00 O'clock. The IV is on the left hand side of C and the V is on the right hand side of C. The minor chords in the key of C are inside the circle. The diminished chord in the key of C is inside the circle one more down on the right hand side. You have all three major chords in the key on the outside then all the minor chords are in the inside of the circle and yes the diminished is inside also. Neat.

    The circle can tell you all kinds of things. If you know where to look. Question; why does the bottom of the circle get so crowded?

    With the C at 12:00 O'clock where is the A? Yep at 3:00 O'clock. How many sharps does the A scale have? Answer; three.

    The circle is to jog your memory. Cut and paste it somewhere. My first instrument was a banjo and I had the circle glued to the neck so I could sneak a peak anytime I needed to cheat.
    A.Diva likes this.
  13. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
    If you know the fretboard, any given note on the same fret on the next lower string is a 5th away and on the same fret a string above is a 4th away.

    so find the c on the 8th (?) fret on the e string play C same fret on the string above F move down a whole step Bb Eb move down a whole step Ab Db etc. sound in any way familiar?

    get back to the C and play the C and the same fret on the string below G move up a whole step D,A, move up a whole step E, B etc.

    adjust accordingly on a 4 string to what? the 3rd fret of the A string to find the C starter
    moving up the fretboard and to the lower string are sharp keys, moving down the fretboard and to the next higher string are flat keys -- simple you know this already

    it's connecting theory to what we know already that makes it practical
  14. lsabina


    Sep 3, 2008
    Except this author gets it wrong when he calls the counter-clockwise direction the "circle of fourths". It's still a circle of fifths, but now descending, as opposed to the ascending clockwise progression.
    Start on C. Go up (clockwise) a Perfect 5th to G.
    Start on C. Go down (counter-clockwise) a Perfect 5th to F.
  15. petrus61

    petrus61 Supporting Member

    This has to be the best thread title I've ever seen on TB. Sig worthy.
  16. philvanv

    philvanv Gerbil Turds, Kitsap County Turd Core

    Jul 2, 2012
    and at the bottom it says thank you, and now you can shag off
  17. MarshallNole


    Dec 1, 2013
    So nobody has yet to easily explain what you are supposed to do once you know the Circle of 5ths...
  18. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    Circle of 5ths is a music-theory tool for analyzing music. So, once you know the circle of 5ths, use your knowledge to deepen/broaden your understanding of music. GrooveDoctor's post above is spot on; have you learned these songs yet? :)