View Full Version : The circle of 5th's...

11-14-2004, 07:22 PM
Hi, I hope I'm posting on the right section of the forum. Anyway, I dont understand the circle, and that's the subject we're doing on my music theory class. What I dont understand is how I can put the circle into use to my instrument (guitar). I have been trying to write songs and all, but all I can do it with is the barre chord, so yeah...I need help..please help, thank you!


11-15-2004, 12:30 AM
It's not that useful as many people state it is. The circle of fifths in short is just changing key by a fifth and it will change one note. So changing from the key of C (C D E F G A B) to the key of G (G A B C D E F#), which is a fifth interval, now has a additional sharp. If you went backwards (called the circle of fourths) you would go from C (C D E F G A B) to F (F G A Bb C D E) which now has a flat. Going back another fourth you now have a total of 2 flats, etc. It's good to know I guess for key changes but I know this from just knowing all the keys and the notes and not this "circle of 5ths" manner. I don't know if thats really what it is or if there is a lot more, but I spent a lot of time on it and it really wasn't that useful.

A cool song using 5ths is Jimi Hendrix - Hey Joe (C to G to D To A to E, all 5th intervals!).

11-15-2004, 06:53 AM
Its just a measure of how "far away" a key or chord is from another one harmonicly. The bigger the jump away you do, the more odd and significant it will sound, from the smooth raise of a c-f change, to the alarming switch of a D-G# one. Whether the jump is "up" or "down" on the cycle also influences the emotional application a switch tends to have.

Note: sus4's and 2's can be counted as intermediate chords in the cycle. For example C F G can be either Csus4, or Fsus2. Going from A to Csus4 counts as a 3+1/2 step movement up the cycle. for example.

Experiment with it, and you'll start to see how the science behind it translates into effects on your ears and emotions. And then you have a big advantage in working out what chords to use for a particular lyrical/emotional theme.

11-15-2004, 08:01 PM
I use to hate the circle of 5th's. But now that I understand it (to some degree) it's a lot more helpful than I thought.

11-17-2004, 05:16 PM
of course the cycle of fifths is important! it gives you the key signature (what sharps and flats are in the key) of every key and helps you find the relative minor key. To put it into a guitar context, when the song is in the key of D ...you know the key signature is F# and C#...so with that in mind, you know what notes to improvise over the top with. You would know what notes sound good and what notes don't.
Also, if you want to write music (proper music, not tabs) it's important to know the key signature especially if you want to write scales and chords.

11-17-2004, 06:11 PM
basically we are learning at my school (I am 14) and I think that it is very easy. Plus the circle of 5th's is a very good exercise to warm-up on.

11-17-2004, 11:57 PM
the circle of fifths is useful only to a point...it can be used for determining key signatures, as was already said...its also used for one method of determining harmonic progression, but that method kinda sucks, and is very limiting...

11-19-2004, 01:56 PM
Hmm...I see I see, thanks for helping me!

12-17-2004, 11:14 AM
the circle of fiths is good to figure out minor scales from major box scales

12-17-2004, 12:41 PM
Look at the NO BULL lessons in the guitar lessons thread. Lesson 3 is all about the Circle of 5ths.