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Circle of Fifths/Fourths


Gord -B

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I'm posting this because for some reason explaining things makes it clearer in my own head and may be useful to newbies as it is written by one. Feel free to ignore :)

 

http://www.cyberflotsam.com/images/Music_CircleOfFifths.gif

 

Note: All the Chords on the inside circle of this are the relative minor and have the same number of accidentals as its relative major.

 

I use this at the moment just to find out the number of accidentals for a key signature.

 

I know that:

C/Am - no accidentals

G/Em - F#

D/Bm - F#/C#

A/F#m - F#/C#/G#

E/C#m - F#/C#/G#/D#

B/G#m - F#/C#/G#/D#/A#

Gb+F#/Eb+D# - F#/C#/G#/D#/A#/E#(fnat) or Bb/Eb/Ab/Db/Gb/Cb(Bnat)

Db/Bbm - Bb/Eb/Ab/Db/Gb

Ab/Fm - Bb/Eb/Ab/Db

Eb/Cm - Bb/Eb/Ab

Bb/Gm - Bb/Eb

F/Dm - Bb

 

and thats every key there is :confused:

 

So I take this knowledge and i can play all major and relative minor scales.

Derek Smalls: It's like fire and ice, basically. I feel my role in the band is to be somewhere in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water. http://www.myspace.com/gordonbache
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Nice to see the circle of fifths here...it's useful for lots of things.

 

For example...if you want to generate purely functional harmony, pick a tonic chord...say, D.

 

Then jump in a clockwise direction several chords away...say F#. You can play back to D by following the circle in a counterclockwise direction...F#m leads to Bm leads to Em leads to A7 leads to D. I chose the minor or Dominant (7th)designation because those are the values within that Key (according to the chart you gave.)

 

Now, concerning that chart.

 

D-F-A-C

E-G-B-D

F-A-C-E

G-B-D-F

A-C-E-G

B-D-F-A

C-E-G-B

D-F-A-C

 

When you impose the key signature given by the circle...key of D, (F#, C#) you all the above chords automatically transmogrify into the pattern of Major and Minor you gave.

 

Now, concerning the vii chord:

 

C-E-G-B, when given the two sharp key signature becomes:

C#-E-G-B, which means that your fifth is C#-G...that's diminished. C#-E is minor. C#-B is a minor (dominant) seventh. This makes the vii chord a "half-diminished" or, in jazz parlance m7b5. Actually, a quite important chord and concept.

 

Now, a minor key does NOT follow the pattern you indicated...you need to rethink. Let's see:

 

D minor---related to F Major, so it has a key signature of 1 flat, Bb.

 

d-f-a-c

e-g-Bb-d

f-a-c-e

g-Bb-d-f

a-c-e-g

Bb-d-f-a

c-e-g-Bb

d-f-a-c

 

 

dm7=i

em7b5=ii dim.

face-III (major 7)

gBbdf=iv

aceg=v

Bb-d-f-a= Vi major 7

cegBb-VII7...dominant.

 

Now, for minors, due to the Western music imperative of functional, leading harmony, composers began the habit of arbitrarily adding a leading tone half step on the seventh scale step of the minor key. In this case, it would be a C#.

 

( Don't read this parenthesis yet if you are not conversant with what I'm talking about...it will only serve to confuse. Jump down to below the parenthetical comment.) It actually gets a bit more complicated here...in classical theory there are THREE kinds of minors, before you even get into the modes. In jazz, there is yet a fourth minor...the classic melodic minor, but played the same way ascending and descending.)

 

Adding that C# makes for interesting choices:

 

dfac#= minorMaj7.

fac#e= weird augmented chord...you normally wouldn't add this seventh.

 

Of course, the reason we add that C# becomes evident on the V chord...it changes the Am7 chord to a more functional A7 (Dominant) chord.

 

And so on. Now just because we've added the leading tone doesn't mean we use all these sevenths anymore...actually at this point different compositions handle harmony differently...generally by using a melodic minor.

 

Also, when you take the blues into the minor the harmony often changes. One typical minor blues is

"The Thrill is Gone" by BB KING:

 

i-i-i-i

iv-iv-i-i

VIMaj7-V7-i-i

 

The addition of that Vi Maj7 chord makes the minor blues VERY interesting.

 

Now, under the "add some spice" part of your post, there are some errors in your sevenths. Specifically, the Cb, Db, Fb, Gb are not correct. You can't always just make a note flat. The correct notes for Dominant (minor) sevenths are:

 

D-C (C# is the major 7th)

E-D

G-F

A-G

 

I'll bet that will make your music sound a lot more interesting.

 

Still, explore the circle of fifths. It is incredibly useful for all things theoretical.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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thankyou, thankyou for adding to and correcting my post. As i said i'm very much a newbie i've only done a tiny bit of theory in my music AS lessons and i got a B. (thats half an A level)

 

all info in my post is mainly assumption and is not particularly educated.

 

I'm going out now (U.K time) but i will be back to drain your brain on this topic :) )

Derek Smalls: It's like fire and ice, basically. I feel my role in the band is to be somewhere in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water. http://www.myspace.com/gordonbache
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YAY FOR THEORY!!!
http://www.briantimpe.com/images/LDL/dots/blue.JPGhttp://www.briantimpe.com/images/LDL/dots/black.JPGhttp://www.briantimpe.com/images/LDL/dots/fuscia.JPGhttp://www.briantimpe.com/images/LDL/dots/grey.JPGhttp://www.briantimpe.com/images/LDL/dots/orange.JPGhttp://www.briantimpe.com/images/LDL/dots/purple.JPGhttp://www.briantimpe.com/images/LDL/dots/red.JPGhttp://www.briantimpe.com/images/LDL/dots/yellow.JPG
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If it weren't for my circle of fifths, I wouldn't be able to switch between my Bb tenor saxes and Eb alto and bari saxes as readily. I've played alto for nearly ten years and tenor for only a little while, and I still play a G scale when I'm told to play a concert Bb, but because of the beautiful circle, I can play a C scale instead :D

 

Just goes to show that the circle of fifths can be applied almost anywhere. :love:

\m/ Timothy Lyons
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Bassplayers should learn the circle the other way---counterclockwise, in fourths.

 

That's the way our instruments are tuned and fourths is the way chords in pop and jazz tend to move.

 

All my students are assigned to play arpeggios around the circle of 4ths, e.g.:

|: C7|F7|Bb7|Eb7|Ab7|Db7|Gb7|B7|E7|A7|D7|G7 :|

 

Here's something I call a diatonic circle:

 

|Cmaj7|Fmaj7|Bm7b5|Em7|Am7|Dm7|G7|Cmaj7|

 

It's the chords that go with a major scale arranged in fourths. (there's one augmented fourth..for extra credit where is it?)

 

Next play this in all keys.

 

Then play:

I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor

Isn't She Lovely by Stevie Wonder

Fly Me to the Moon by Bart Howard

 

And you will understand the chord progressions of those songs.

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So I've heard, Jeremy. About the circle of fourths.

 

But I got my start in that old fashioned, dyed-in-the-wool 18th C. harmony...and it has hounded me ever since. I still gravitate toward the circle of fifths.

 

Anyway, what I've done is just think counterclockwise (as in my example above.)

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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When I used to play piano and read music, I knew this stuff. And I think theory is cool...I wish I knew more. But...

 

Ever since I started playing bass, I started thinking more "chromatically"...that is, I think of intervals, and I prefer to have one name for a note...i.e., there is no A#, only Bb, there is no Gb only F#, etc. This may be wrong, but I can't help it...it just seems more intuitive.

 

And while we're at it, let's get rid of Cb, Fb, E#, and B#...what's that all about? (I understand the theory...it's just...WHY?)

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Why do notes have two names?

 

Why are deer and dear spelled differently? They sound the same but the mean something different.

 

Every scale has one of each letter name.

 

It's easy in C.

C D E F G A B C

 

But in C# it's:

C# D# E# F# G# A# B# C#

 

now you could call this:

C# Eb F F# G# Bb C C#,

but you would be wrong and it would make the scale look totally confusing, don't you think?

It would look even worse written on a staff with the incorrect spelling.

 

If you have the right key signature, a scale always looks like a scale, a triad always looks like a triad.

 

F# A Db just doesn't make any sense to the eye.

(it was supposed to be an F#m chord, F# A C#, now doesn't that look better?)

 

In general (and only in general) we do not mix sharps and flats. In general we use sharps when going up and flats when going down. (C C# D)(D Db C)

 

We could have a D7b9 chord, that would have D F# A C Eb. And it makes perfect sense that way. If you wrote the last note as D# it would look hella bootsy.

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I thought this was going to be a "i bought a new bass, so my wife left me, to make myself better i bought another." posts but this is miles better, or it would be if like invincible i could actually understand it, but one day.
"i must've wrote 30 songs the first weekend i met my true love ... then she died and i got stuck with this b****" - Father of the Pride
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pa·ren·the·sis ( P ) Pronunciation Key (p-rnth-ss)

n. pl. par·en·the·ses (-sz)

Either or both of the upright curved lines, ( ), used to mark off explanatory or qualifying remarks in writing or printing or enclose a sum, product, or other expression considered or treated as a collective entity in a mathematical operation.

 

A qualifying or amplifying word, phrase, or sentence inserted within written matter in such a way as to be independent of the surrounding grammatical structure.

A comment departing from the theme of discourse; a digression.

An interruption of continuity; an interval: This is one of the things I wasn't prepared forthe amount of unfilled time, the long parentheses of nothing (Margaret Atwood).

I wish i could use a word like that with such ease. :confused:
Derek Smalls: It's like fire and ice, basically. I feel my role in the band is to be somewhere in the middle of that, kind of like lukewarm water. http://www.myspace.com/gordonbache
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Originally posted by jeremyc:

Why do notes have two names?

 

Why are deer and dear spelled differently? They sound the same but the mean something different.

 

Every scale has one of each letter name.

 

It's easy in C.

C D E F G A B C

 

But in C# it's:

C# D# E# F# G# A# B# C#

 

now you could call this:

C# Eb F F# G# Bb C C#,

but you would be wrong and it would make the scale look totally confusing, don't you think?

It would look even worse written on a staff with the incorrect spelling.

Well, I get this...but I guess my point is, is the latter really "wrong" or just "wrong" by current convention? Everything about written music is just a construct, looking for a logical way to express the notes, hopefully with simplicity. Personally, I have moved into my own constructs in some ways, which I feel has its advantages and disadvantages (perhaps more of the latter, but still).
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Well, current convention has a pretty long heritage.

 

Some folks call these notes do-re-mi and so on. And actually, you don't even need to know the notes at all...great music has been composed by "primitives" just as great painting is.

 

However, the note naming practice jeremy refers to is very useful. In another thread, I was thinking out loud about "Tell me Something Good." The midi file was written in a mixture of flats and sharps, and this mixture confused me. I initially changed it to all flats, and then, I added a key signature. As soon as I did that, notes popped out at me. Cb was written as B, and confused me about what scale they were using. And, of course, the C nat. in the melody stuck out like a sore thumb...helping me analyze this immediately.

 

It could be argued that my education forced me to think in certain ways, and other ways are equally valid. In fact, the composer of this tune may not have thought about it with the same enharmonic elements as I eventually did.

 

I would only answer that our music notational and theoretical system has proven to be the most efficient way of studying Western music...and virtually all harmonic music can be notated and studied this way. It's not perfect, but, like any encoded thought, if you become fluent, it becomes easy.

 

They say English is among the most difficult languages to learn...an amalgam of several other languages, devoid of hard and fast rules. English is Latin of the modern world, and perfect or no, it is what works now.

"Let's raise the level of this conversation" -- Jeremy Cohen, in the Picasso Thread.

 

Still spendin' that political capital far faster than I can earn it...stretched way out on a limb here and looking for a better interest rate.

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Yes, Adam, there is a right and wrong.

 

You can invent your own system if you want, but you have to communicate with others.

 

You can learn everything by ear and not know anything. I have met a few people with a photographic memory for music. They listen to a piece of music once and then they can play it.

 

If you don't have that God-given gift you can still memorize anything if you want to.

 

I once worked with a guitarist who every once in a while made a mistake. (as we all do) She memorized hundreds and hundreds of songs. But she memorized them the way you would memorize a shopping list. "Bring home eggs, milk, cereal, bread, cheese, lettuce, papertowels, and detergent."

 

Now if you buy the cereal before you buy the milk, you can say you haven't forgotten anything.

 

But if you play a song whose chords are:

 

C|Am|F|G7|Em|A7|Dm|G7|

and you play the Dm before the A7, well you are just wrong. And she would make mistakes like that every once in a while.

 

Which was inconceivable to me... the Dm couldn't be before the A7, it would be completely illogical.

 

I play with a wide variety of singers, so I often have to play songs that I know in a variety of keys. So I do it, no rehearsal, no chart, they just count off the tune and I play it.

 

Knowing the relationships between chords both theoretically and by ear enables me to do this easily.

 

And if you decide that you will always call the note Bb and the other note F#, then you will never understand theory and many musical tasks will be harder for you.

 

But maybe you have a photographic memory and none of this matters.

 

Turning Rant Mode Off. :P

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Originally posted by jeremyc:

 

Then play:

I Will Survive by Gloria Gaynor

Isn't She Lovely by Stevie Wonder

Fly Me to the Moon by Bart Howard

 

And you will understand the chord progressions of those songs.

Autumn Leaves is another classic circle of fifths tune!

The Black Knight always triumphs!

 

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