My name is James Dellay, some of you may see me around with the handle Jamesonwa or Jamesontop. My life has been dramatically changed just by picking up the theory and the understanding of music. I thought I would share a personal lesson I believe is ESSENTIAL to unlocking and opening a few doors for YOU, the musician out there striving to learn. Or… for us who need a little refreshing.
The Circle Of 5ths
The circle of 5ths is what I like to call a utility to unlocking the major/minor scales and a tool to help you build these essential Scales, or key’s as you can call them, should you ever loose your trusty scales and modes book.
The circle of 5th’s is built with the Major keys on the outside of the circle like this diagram (A) below.
Going in a clockwise position starting on the C at the 12 o’ clock position on our circle, moving clockwise to the next note G is a 5th away from C.
C D E F G A B C
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Notice if we go up the alphabet, starting from C we go up 5 letters to get to G, being our 5th of C
Reminder: Always count your root note as 1 when going clockwise counting up in our alphabet. (Refer to example 1)
This is why we call our utility the “circle or cycle of 5ths”. Moving clockwise around our circle every note is a 5th from your starting point.
The 5th of every note in our cycle of 5ths (below):
C – G = 5th
G – D = 5th
D – A = 5th
A – E = 5th
E – B = 5th
B – Gb = 5th
Gb/F# – Db = 5th
Db – Ab = 5th
Ab – Eb = 5th
Eb – F = 5th
F – C = 5th
Now that you have that idea, lets change it up a bit. See Diagram B:
I have split our circle into colors, Blue representing the key’s that have Flats in them, As well as our Red side that have Sharps in their key.
The C key at the 12 o’ clock position is a Natural tone, this has no sharps or flats in this key only. we’ll get into that in a moment…
You are also seeing numbers on the outside of each alphabet character on our diagram, this number specifies how many Sharps or Flats are in this specific key when we write them out. the side of the circle will determine if we need to write it out as Sharps or Flats.
Click Here to determine what the Sharps and Flats are in these keys for my next post!