Tag Archives: Circle Of Fifths

Circle Of Fifths Hand Signs

There are times during a gig when you can’t talk, or the crowd is too loud. So what do you do if you have to communicate? You use Hand Signs.

This practice refers to the Circle Of Fifths. Fingers pointing up refer to Sharps, and fingers pointing down refer to Flats. The number of fingers I’m pointing refer to the Key Signature.

So if I point 2 fingers up, then I mean the key of D major (because it has 2 sharps). If I point 3 fingers down, then I’m referring to the Key of A major (because it has 3 flats). Got it? Now watch the video to learn something new!

Chord Functions Explained!

What are chord functions?

OK, so you know the major and minor scales perfectly, and all of your chords. But what now? how can you put them together to write songs? Well, use Chord Functions! Basically, you build chords off of the notes in the scale. So it looks like this:

1 MAJOR
2 minor
3 minor
4 MAJOR
5 MAJOR
6 minor
7 diminished

When I walk up a C Major Scale (C D E F G A B C) I’m only playing one note at a time. But if I were to make chords off of those then I’m building it off of their Root-Third-Fifth intervals (R-3-5).

Here’s an example of the chords in the key of C MAJOR:

  • The C chord in the key of C becomes C E G making it C MAJOR
  • The D chord in the key of C becomes D F A making it D minor
  • The E chord in the key of C becomes E G B making it E minor
  • The F chord in the key of C becomes F A C making it F MAJOR
  • The G chord in the key of C becomes G B D making it G MAJOR
  • The A chord in the key of C becomes A C E making it A minor
  • The B chord in the key of C becomes B D F making it B diminished

Notice how the E chord in the key of C is E G B. This makes it a minor chord because the 3rd interval is flattened. Meanwhile, the E chord in the key of E is E G# B (Notice the G#) It now becomes an E MAJOR chord because the 3rd interval is NOT flattened. This is because the key of E has 4 sharps in it, one of them being the G#.

Can I build chords off different keys of a major scale?

Absolutely! One thing to remember is that the the MAJOR-minor-minor-MAJOR-MAJOR-minor-diminished pattern will ALWAYS follow the same pattern in every key. The only thing that changes are the notes/chords. So simply just plug and play.

Here’s an example of the chords in the key of E MAJOR:

  • The E chord in the key of E becomes E G# B making it E MAJOR
  • The F# chord in the key of E becomes F# A C# making it F# minor
  • The G# chord in the key of E becomes G# B D# making it G# minor
  • The A chord in the key of E becomes A C# E making it A MAJOR
  • The B chord in the key of E becomes B D# F# making it B MAJOR
  • The C# chord in the key of E becomes C# E G# making it C# minor
  • The D# chord in the key of E becomes D# F# A making it D# diminished

Understand it now? If not, watch the video above a few times, and you’ll get it!

Order Of Sharps And Flats

This is a continuation of my ‘Circle of Fifths‘ post.

The Order of Sharps and Flats

This will be another utility to use with the circle of 5ths to determine what key gets Flats or Sharps and how we determine them.
Order of #‘s: F C G D A E B (a saying I like to remember these notes is):
Fat
Cats
Go
Down
Alleys
Eating
Bones

Order of b‘s: B E A D G C F (a saying to remember the flats is):
B-E-A-D
Glass
Cuts
Fine

If you notice, the order of Flats is just the order of Sharps in reverse.
Now lets get workin’! Lets pick one of our keys from the cycle of fifths in diagram 2. Lets start with the key of A Major.

Notice this: the key of A Major is on the side where we have Sharps (#) in thiskey. to determine the sharps of the A key we will refer to the “order of Sharps (#)”.

Order of #‘s are as follows :
F C G D A E B
1 2 3 4 5 6 7

Since we see that the key of A Major has 3 sharps, we will just count up in our order of Sharps, 3 alphabet characters. F C G – These are our sharps in our key of A Major.

Let’s write out our key of A without identifying the sharps like this firsthand:

A B C D E F G A

We have determined that our sharps in the key of A Major are F C G, we were able to do this by using our circle of fifths corresponding with the order of Sharps. NOW, if we happen to pick a Eb key (has 3 b’s) we would be using the order of flats, but the same principles apply. we can now add our sharps symbols to our notes within our key to identify it as the “key of A major”. (F# C# G#)

A B C# D E F# G#

We have successfully made our first key, we can use this key to form many things, such as scales & chords believe it or not! Lets see how we can do that!

Circle Of Fifths

Hello world!

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.

Example 1:
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!

Chord Functions! 1M 2m 3m 4M, etc.

What are Chord Functions?

OK, so you know the major and minor scales perfectly, and all of your chords. But what now? how can you put them together to write songs? Well, use Chord Functions! Basically, you build chords off of the notes in the scale. So it looks like this:

1 MAJOR
2 minor
3 minor
4 MAJOR
5 MAJOR
6 minor
7 diminished

When I walk up a C Major Scale (C D E F G A B C) I’m only playing one note at a time. But if I were to make chords off of those then I’m building it off of their Root-Third-Fifth intervals (R-3-5).

Here’s an example of the chords in the Key of C MAJOR:

The C chord in the key of C becomes C E G making it C MAJOR
The D chord in the key of C becomes D F A making it D minor
The E chord in the key of C becomes E G B making it E minor
The F chord in the key of C becomes F A C making it F MAJOR
The G chord in the key of C becomes G B D making it G MAJOR
The A chord in the key of C becomes A C E making it A minor
The B chord in the key of C becomes B D F making it B diminished

Notice how the E chord in the key of C is E G B. This makes it a minor chord because the 3rd interval is flattened. Meanwhile, the E chord in the key of E is E G# B (Notice the G#) It now becomes an E MAJOR chord because the 3rd interval is NOT flattened. This is because the key of E has 4 sharps in it, one of them being the G#.

Can I build Chords off different Keys of a major scale?

Absolutely! One thing to remember is that the the MAJOR-minor-minor-MAJOR-MAJOR-minor-diminished pattern will ALWAYS follow the same pattern in every key. The only thing that changes are the notes/chords. So simply just plug and play.

Here’s an example of the chords in the Key of E MAJOR:

The E chord in the key of E becomes E G# B making it E MAJOR
The F# chord in the key of E becomes F# A C# making it F# minor
The G# chord in the key of E becomes G# B D# making it G# minor
The A chord in the key of E becomes A C# E making it A MAJOR
The B chord in the key of E becomes B D# F# making it B MAJOR
The C# chord in the key of E becomes C# E G# making it C# minor
The D# chord in the key of E becomes D# F# A making it D# diminished

Understand it now? If not, watch the video above a few times, and you’ll get it!