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Thread: Circle of fitths - Usefull mnemonic

  1. #1
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    Circle of fitths - Usefull mnemonic

    Hello , my friends

    Probably this is not new to most of you but, in case someone new comes along, I wanted to share it.I

    Great information, helps you to remember how to use the circle: http://ogdenian.com/circle.htm

  2. #2
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    Hello , my friends

    Probably this is not new to most of you but, in case someone new comes along, I wanted to share it.I

    Great information, helps you to remember how to use the circle: http://ogdenian.com/circle.htm
    Hmm, looks a bit complicated to me.
    The one I like is "Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle". It's the order sharps are added to keys, clockwise from C. (Ie, G major has F#, D major adds C#, etc). You end up at C# major, which has all 7 sharps, added in that order.
    The charm of it is you can reverse it: "Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father" - which is the order flats are added to the keys in the anti-clockwise direction from C. (F major has Bb, Bb major adds Eb, etc.) And you end up with Cb major, with all 7 flats.

  3. #3
    Registered User ragasaraswati's Avatar
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    The thing is can you play them as fast as you can say 'em? I was hearing some Steve Vai playing rapid successions of fifths lately and he is really font of them, has used them in many of his songs. Nice sound.

  4. #4
    Registered User xyzzy's Avatar
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    I've found this trick useful:

    1. You just have to know that C is all-naturals and F is one flat.

    2. You imagine that the letter "G" can be drawn with one stroke. One sharp.

    3. Observe that you can draw a D with two strokes. Two sharps.

    4. You can draw an A with three strokes. three sharps.

    5. You draw the letter E with four strokes. Four sharps.

    6. You draw the letter B with five strokes (pointy bouts) five sharps.

    7. For the flat keys, you take the difference between the sharp key and 7. (e.g. E has five sharps, so Eb has two flats)

    ... anyway, I've found this trick quite handy and easy to use. It's explaines more thoroughly in the link above. Cheers!

  5. #5
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Look where the scale is on the clock.
    C has no sharps and is at 12:00 O'clock.
    G has one and is at 1:00 O'clock.
    D is at two and ........ you get the picture.

    OK there are 7 of them and yes they do wrap around to the other side. Ever wonder why the bottom of the circle gets crowded.....
    http://www.google.com/imgres?imgurl=...ed=0CBoQ9QEwAg
    Last edited by Malcolm; 02-04-2011 at 08:20 PM.

  6. #6
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by xyzzy View Post
    I've found this trick useful:
    <snip>
    Hmmmmm, that avatar and location seems familiar to me somehow . . . .

    cheers,

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    OK there are 7 of them...
    Being the 7th the exception to the rule. (there's always one).

    Both are great and easy to remember but, in my oppinion, Malcolm's is easier.

    Are there more?

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    Smile Other methods to remember key signature

    I use the "Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle" method, to remember the order of sharps or flats in a keysignature (as someone has already mentioned). With this fixed firmly in your memory, proceed as follows...

    G major: A semitone below G is F sharp (last and only sharp in keysignature), hence G major has one sharp.
    D major: A semitone below D is C sharp (the last of two sharps in key signature), hence D major has two sharps.
    A major: A semitone below A is G sharp (last of three sharps in keysignature), hence A major has three sharps etc.etc

    Helpful?

  9. #9
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Are there more -----
    See God Destroy All Earth By F#iry C#haos order of scales with sharps.
    Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Birds the order of the sharps. C has none, G has one the F#, D has two; F# and C#, etc.
    Farmer Brown Eats Apple Dumplings Greasley Cooked order of scales with flats
    F is first with one - the, Bb and Bb is second with two, Bb and Eb. Eb is third with three, Bb, Eb and Ab etc.

    More still? Sure.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 02-09-2011 at 06:15 PM.

  10. #10
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    More still? Sure.
    The order of sharps:

    Funky Chicken Get Down Alright Everybody Boogie

    . . . it was the 80's

    I wouldn't get to hung up on mnemonics in general, the idea of a mnemonic is secondary to the cycle of 5ths itself. Use them if they help at first, just make sure you remember that the goal is to memorize the cycle of 5ths.

    Better I think to just memorize "F C G D A E B" forwards and backwards. Spend a couple of days repeating this sequence twice every hour, then a couple of days "seeing" the sequence with your "minds eye" but reading it backwards "B E A D G C F". The sequence extends to the right (clockwise) with "F# C# G# D# A# E# B#" and further to the left (counter-clockwise) with "Bb Eb Ab Db Gb Cb Fb".

    Don't worry about understanding just yet - just memorize it first - understanding comes later. Memorize the sequence, then memorize the number of sharps or flats. After a couple of weeks of dedicated effort you can be past this point and ready for the next big challenge.

    cheers,

  11. #11
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    Don't worry about understanding just yet - just memorize it first - understanding comes later. Memorize the sequence, then memorize the number of sharps or flats. After a couple of weeks of dedicated effort you can be past this point and ready for the next big challenge.
    I already understood part of it, i.e., how the circle relates with the scales or, better said, how it was created from scales. The practical use of it, well, with time and practice everything will be memorized.

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    I think you should treat it as a technique for figuring out the sharps and the flats of a key
    Check out the free chord player site http://www.jam-buddy.com

  13. #13
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rbarata View Post
    I already understood part of it, i.e., how the circle relates with the scales or, better said, how it was created from scales. The practical use of it, well, with time and practice everything will be memorized.
    As far as I can tell the only practical use for the cycle of 5ths is as a mechanism to learn the key signatures and how various keys relate - how many sharps or flats each key has / relative degree of sharpness or flatness. Lot's of people try to invent new uses for it but they all seem to be awkward reaches.

    Maybe that's why additional mnemonics seem overboard for me. I mean using one mnemonic to learn another seem a bit weird.

    cheers,

  14. #14
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    Lightbulb

    The only proper way to do this if you are serious about being/becoming an accomplished musician is to write this cycle/circle of fifths out once and memorise it. You will also need to know how to work it out.

    (Starting at C, the note a fifth above has one more sharp/one less flat. The order of sharps is FCGDAEB and flats is BEADGCF. Therefore in a key with 4 flats, the flats are BEAD. (A flat major, F minor) There are other tricks to working out keys (see below).)

    Also notice that a key with five, six or seven accidentals will frequently be called by its enharmonic equivalent. This is most evident when looking at both major and minor keys on the same tonic. D flat major has 5 flats, but D flat minor would have 8 flats, so it is commonly called C sharp minor, with 4 shaps. Generally people try to express the key signature with as few accidentals as possible, therefore keys with 7 flats/sharps often become keys with 5 sharps/flats. Keys with 6 flats/sharps are normally heard as F sharp major but E flat minor. However it is important to be familiar with both because if you are playing a piece in F major for example, and there was a horrifically cheesy key change up a semitone, it would be unusual for it to be in F sharp, rather it would be in G flat (at least in real music it would be anyway, can't speak for modern rubbishy pop guitar ear-rape).

    Don't forget your minor keys either. You'd do well to learn the scales of each key at this stage as well, it takes the same amount of time whether you do it before your first lesson or before your grade 8 exam.

    To work out if a piece is major or minor, look for which note the melody ends on. If a piece with a key signature of 1 sharp ends on an E it is more likely to be in E minor than G major. Also, minor keys will contain melodic accidentals as would found in scales.

    Key-Working-Out tricks:
    ____________________

    Flat Keys:
    Major:
    The last flat is always a fifth below the note which is the tonic (note 1)
    [Therefore (except in F major) the key is the second last flat in that key.]
    BEA&D flats: the key is A flat. BEADG&F flats: Key is G flat. B&E flats: the key is B flat.
    Minor:
    The last flat is a major third below the tonic.
    BE&A flats: the key is C minor. B&E flats: the key is G minor. BEAD&G flats: the key is B flat minor.

    Sharp Keys:
    Major:
    The last sharp is the leading note of the scale.
    FC&G sharps: the key is A. FCGD&A sharps: the key is B. F sharp: the key is G.
    Minor:
    The last sharp is a tone above the tonic.
    F&C sharps: the key is B minor. FCG&D sharps: the key is C sharp minor. FCGDAE&B sharps: the key is A sharp minor (notional)

    Major to minor conversion.
    The tonic of a minor key is a minor third below the tonic of a major key with the same key signature. And conversely, the tonic of a major key is a minor third above the tonic of the minor key with the same key signature.
    Major Key is C => Minor key is A. Major Key is F=> Minor key is D. Minor key is G=> Major key is B flat.

    Recap:
    Look at the last accidental in the key signature.
    If it is a sharp, go a semitone up to give the name of the major key, and a tone down to get the name of the minor key.
    If it is a flat, go a fifth up to give the name of the major key, and a major third up to give the name of the minor key.
    If there is no key signature, C major or A minor.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    As far as I can tell the only practical use for the cycle of 5ths is as a mechanism to learn the key signatures... Lot's [sic] of people try to invent new uses for it but they all seem to be awkward reaches.
    Johann Sebastian would disagree with you. The cycle of fifths was fascinating to him, how keys related to each other and he frequently uses cycles of fifths in his harmony. A man called Pachelbel built a fairly well-known song around, effectively, a cycle of fifths. That was about 350 years ago and we're still talking about it. Must have been pretty good stuff.

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