Monday, November 21, 2011
circle of fifths
The circle of fifths is a very helpful way to organize the musical keys into a chart that has many uses. I have written the circle of fifths in two ways in the charts below. It is not obvious from looking at them why it is called a "circle". Bear with me and I will explain. In the first chart, you will see that each scale is written vertically. The name of the major scale or key is written in blue. The relative minor key is written in pink. You can start with any key on the chart and the key to its right will be up a perfect fifth and the key to its left will be down a perfect fifth. Here is an example: C major is in the center of the chart. The key to the right of C major is G major which is a perfect fifth up. The key to the left of C major is F major which is down a perfect fifth. Pick any note on the chart: the note to its right will be up a perfect fifth and the note to its left will be down a perfect fifth.
One useful feature of the circle of fifths chart is that it will help you understand key signatures. You'll notice that as you move by columns (each column is a key or scale) progressively to the right of C major each column adds a new sharp while keeping the ones from the previous column. As you move progressively to the left from C major, each column adds a new flat. The video will explain this a bit more and also explain the "circle" part.