Circle of Fifths

Discussion in 'Performing Arts' started by Disconformitized, Jan 29, 2005.

  1. AKA 5ths.... Anyone know anything about this magical circle of theory? I've read a pretty simple description a couple times over and it does make sense to me. But I'm trying to figure out if/how it can be useful in my bass playing.

    this is the way I comprehend it.... If I'm trying to play with a guitar and its play the G chord is the equivalent of the key of G for me to play on bass. As I understand a chord is the 1st, 3rd, and 5th notes of a scale. So using the circle of 5ths I could figure out that I can play any of the notes in the key of G. Which would be G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, and then G again.

    Since the key of G is a perfect 5th above C, then it contains only 1 # note (F#).

    Also would the order of flats (BEADGCF), be the opposite of the order of sharpes ?FCGDAEB)?

    So am I making sense out of all this or am I trying to stick a cube through a round hole?
  2. Hmm, I think I get what you're talking about. If you're playing with a guitar that is being played in the key of G, you also would play in the key of G since both instruments are naturally in the same key (both are C instruments), so no transposing or anything would be needed. Now if you were playing with say a trumpet, their key of G would be different from your key of G, but that's off the subject! I find the circle of 5ths is most useful for learning how many and which sharps or flats are in each key and their relation to one another. . It's also helpful with scales and chords. To figure out sharps, you start at C and count 5 notes above it and that's G which has 1 #. If you don't know what note is sharp, you go one note back from the key(G). Therefor the key of G has one sharp, F#. Then to figure out the next key you count 5 notes up from G which is D with 2 #, F# and C#. And you continue around the circle like that adding one sharp each time. And yes, the order of sharps is FCGDAEB. Figuring out flats is a little different. Start at C and count 5 notes below it. That would be the key of F which has 1 flat. To figure out that flat, count 5 more notes below the key(F) and that would be B flat. Continue on like that. At the bottom of the circle, there are 3 enharmonic keys C#/Db, F#/Gb, and B/Cb. They are written differently but sound the same. Wow, I hope I didn't totally confuse you! I'm not always the best at explaining things, but hey, I tried! Hope it helps!
    Peace, love, and music,
  3. The place where music theory and more specifically knowledge of the Circle of Fifths can help you as a guitarist is when you get stuck trying to write a song or stuck trying to figure a song out by ear. The Circle of Fifths can help you easily construct hundreds of Chord Progressions, Lead Lines, Harmonies, and just about anything else once you get the hang of it.

    "One way to look at the circle of fifths is the relations between keys, illustrated with sharps and flats. If we move one step with the "clock", we add one sharp (#) or deduct one flat (b). If we go one step against the "clock", we deduct one sharp or add one flat. This tells us that there is only one note that is different from one key to the key one fifth away from it. If we go from C-major with no sharps or flats, to G-major with one sharp, the only difference is that the note F is raised to F#. Six notes are the same, one is different. If we go the other way, from C to F, we add one flat. Now the B is flattened to Bb. Still six notes are the same, one is different."

  4. Got all that... so if a guitar is playing a G major chord can I play any note in the Key of G (g,a,b,c,d,e,f#) and it'll sound like it goes together? Or do I only get to choose from the 1st 3rd and 5th (G,B,D) to play around with?
  5. well, technincally if you play within the key things should be okay, the circle of 5ths just provides an aid to help make chord progressions that sound good
  6. Remember dude, the first rule is using your ears. Sometimes nothing can sound better than the wrong note. Theory is a basic guidebook of rules, but like all rules they're usually broken. A thing used more to keep things interesting (and consonant). Circle of fifths really helps for keys. Yeah, if the guitar is playing in G major and you're playing in G major, all the notes should be working together. TECHNICALLY. This is where you get the pentatonics. Sometimes even though it's in key, some notes just don't sound right together, so they get fleshed out. Try playing a F# over G sometime. IF you don't resolve it won't work. Where it really comes down to it, is using your ears. If it sounds good play it.
  7. Yeah, I feel it is very important to 'feel' the chords and melody notes in a piece. Easily as important as learning music theory. Circle of Fifths. SO what? You can play the major scale in each key and tell your audience your adding a sharp at a time? Wow. They all sound the same, DOH< RAY<ME, to a listening audience who do not give a monkey's toe nail whether that major scale in C has no sharps or flats vis a vis G, with one sharp.........they want to hear music, not theory.

    As a bassist you are actually part of the rhythm section of band. Together with the drummer, you hold the whole thing together. Really, it is the guitarist who relies on YOU to keep him on time, and give him the bass of the chord or riff he will be playing.

    The major and minor pentatonic scales will be far more useful to you to make music than knowing the circle of fifths. As will the I,IV and V chord progression that is the foundation for some of the best music recorded.

    Listen to some of the music by the Police. Andy Summers sometimes plays the same chord repeatedly, over which Sting hits a couple of different bass note each bar, forming a little bass riff pattern. I think the best example of this is the beginning of 'Every Little Thing She Does is Magic', but there are plenty others.

    Make your own up......and don't worry about the theory behind what you are playing. If it's good, it's good!:)
  8. rainbowkid

    rainbowkid Member

    My music teacher at school said that it's good to learn the circle of fifths and the reltive minor / major and caadence's etc but I think you don't necessarily need to use them all the time I think it's good to work out some stuff but ear as well, like 'ThrftShopSweater' said.
  9. Amanda's Shadow

    Amanda's Shadow Flower Child

    I recommend "Scales, Intervals, Keys, Triads, Rhythm, and Meter" byNorton Books. Its a complete music thery workbook with an interactive CD with it. It helped me. Im a singer though.
    The circle of 5ths is ...

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

    I remember it "B-E-A-D Greatest Common Factor" or BEADGCF

    Whatever works!
  10. WayfaringStranger

    WayfaringStranger Corporate Slave #34

    hey you should check out those kids can explain theory real good, and they are all a bunch of older phish heads. the fifth is the dominant note in a key, like the 2nd or 4th being subdominant, so if you want that dominate sound, you go to the fifth. for G it is D. if you go backwards (G bein the fifth of C) it is the circle of fourths( C is the fourth of G). so basically going up to the fifth gives a more dominating sound then where you at, going back to the fourth gives a less dominate feel.

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