The Holy Circle of Fifths

Posted by StuffonmyMind on August 17, 2021

Chromatic scale is a set of twelve pitches/ notes separated by the interval of a semitone

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

There are various types of relationships that occur between these keys. The circle of fifths is usually used to provide a visual representation of these relationships.

The circle gets its name from the fact that as we move clockwise we add to the circle an Interval of 5 which can also be represented as 7 semitones So as we start with C and work our way clockwise to the next note which is G after crossing 1 c# 2 D 3 D# 4 E 5 F 6 F# and so if C is chosen as a starting point the sequence is: C, G, D, A, E, B (=C♭), F♯ (=G♭), C♯ (=D♭), A♭, E♭, B♭, F. Continuing the pattern from F returns the sequence to its starting point of C.

What we see in the circle could represent either Notes or Chords or Keys

As Notes

  • Figuring out chords: When you are trying to figure out a C chord you know it’s C - - the second note is E cause its two intervals away from C but the third note is too long from C but with a lil visual help from the circle of fifths we can just jump onto G and figure out the chords mucho rápido

  • Harmonizing notes: You can harmonize notes building up something to build up and then releasing tensions and progressing the same across across the intervals in the circle

As Chords

  • Figuring out Dominant: When playing chords we have the Root and the Dominant chords which kinda provides the tension and sounds opposing to the root chord. So now if we are in the key of D then our Dominant chord is the A which we can quickly pull out of the circle

As Keys

  • Map of Keys for composing: When doing a key change its easier to move from C and G cause they next on the circle whereas moving from C to F# keys will have completely different sounding notes that may be jarring to transition so we usually lead up to it by going from C to G then maybe to A and work your way to F#
  • Figuring out the sharps and Flats in a key: starting with C major there are no sharps or flats cause the notes in the key are: C – D – E – F – G – A – B and proceeding down to key of G we have G – A – B – C – D – E – F# so it has One flat in it. Based on this we can infer that D major has 2 sharps but what are those flats ? since we have an F# in the G key we look at what’s next in the circle and its C so we our sharp keys are F and C D - E - F♯ - G - A - B - C# similarly for the key of A we move 3 sharps across so along with F and C we also have G hence A - B - C♯ - D - E - F♯ - G♯

The Fifths in music have magic in them