View Full Version : Cycle Exercises

05-21-2002, 04:04 AM
I would like to open up a discussion on the topic of Cycle Exercises.
The most common chord change in western music is up a fourth (down a fifth) this cycles through the chromatic scale in order of increasing flats. (CFBbEbAb[G#]Db[C#]Gb[F#]BEADG)

We can build up some exercises by arpeggating chords in this sequence.
Lets start with simple major triads on the GBE strings.
Just to get the hang of this, remember there are three inversions of a major chord [R:135][1st:351][2nd:513] in close voice, so we need three pattern types to execute this, one of each starting with the root third and fifth.

G A Bb C C D E F F
E F F G A Bb C C D
C C D E F F G A Bb
R 5th 3rd 3rd R 5th 5th 3rd R

C F Bb

C F Bb

C F Bb

All we need do now is to take one of these patterns and add 3 frets to it to continue the cycle, since down three fifths is equivalent to up a minor third.


C F Bb

(up 3 frets)
Eb Ab Db

(up 3 frets)
Gb B E

(up 3 frets)

Then cycle repeats....

Maybe next time we can play with some 4 note chord ideas.
Maybe some of you guys have some cool cycle exercises?

05-21-2002, 06:54 AM
Yea, I'm sure this is the right way to develop the inner feeling of natural harmonic sequence. I wish I had my guitar with me now to try your cycles right now, Szulc. I'll be sure to taste your examples and maybe come up with some ideas by myself when I get flooded with melodic tide.
As your excercise is based on using cycle of fifth it also might be useful to skip some chords in that fourth-up progression which must sound well too. (ex. C->F->(Bb omitted here)->Eb etc.). Instead of arpeggiating Bb you could use just one single passing note from this chord - say umm... root or fifth. Anyways I'll try topost some tabs later. I like this practical thread.

Guitar is bigger than life,

05-21-2002, 03:14 PM
Hey James,

itīs an interesting topic youīre bringing up there. And I like that exercise.
What comes to mind is that "Neverending Rain"-chord progression by Joe Satriani. He described it in his book ( which I once reviewed for Guitar4U ).
What it is is a certain I-VI-minor progression utilizing add9-chords, and moving through the cycle of fourths.
So it starts i.e.
Bmadd9 / Gadd9 ( Key of Bm )
Emadd9 / Cadd9 ( Key of Em )
Amadd9 / Fadd9 ( Key of Am ) etc., continuing through all minor key signatures

Eventually it returns to Bm. Itīs a very nice progression to play through, features very smooth key-changes and is a great background to practise improvisation in all keys.

Itīs not really an actual cycle-exercise, but I immediately thought of it when I read your post
Warm regards

05-25-2002, 01:30 PM
By Cycles exercises we need not limit ourselves to movement in fifths or fourths. We can make cycles on minor 2nds, major 7ths these seem trivial since the movement is in half steps but the execution and inversion choice does not need to be so obvious.
For instance (on the GBE strings) 2nd inversion C at open position followed by first inversion B at 2nd position.

By skipping every other chord in the cycle we can have a partial cycle (only using six roots) based on minor 7ths.
By back cycling (up a fifth) and skipping three we can make a complete cycle of major thirds.

The study of cycle 4/5 is very useful to improvisation, keys are closley related by intervals of a fifth or fourth, only one degree of separation (#4 or b7 respectively)
Keys whose roots are a Major 2nd / or Minor 7th apart are separated by two degrees (#4,#1 and b7,b3 respectivley)
Minor 3rd / Major 6th are separated by three degrees (b7,b3,b6 or #4,#1,#5 respectivley)
Major third / Minor 6th are separated by four degrees (b7,b3,b6,b2 or #4,#1,#5,#2)
Minor 2nd / Major 7th are separated by five degrees (b7,b3,b6,b2,b5 or #4,#1,#5,#2,#6)
Diminished 5th / Augmented 4th are separated by six degrees (b7,b3,b6,b2,b5,b1 or #4,#1,#5,#2,#6,#3)
This is complete at this point, you could continue and get enharmonic equivalents of some of the keys you have already made. ie. (7 flats or 7 sharps Major 7th/ Minor 2nd).

12-17-2002, 05:30 AM
Here is an old thread (Iw asn't even using Powertab yet) that I though was worthy of resurecting, with our larger audience.

12-18-2002, 08:44 AM
This thread is really good.
I got to horsing around with it last night and forgot about time.
Good info, szulc.

12-18-2002, 12:30 PM
This is actually related to 'Speaking in toungues'

12-19-2002, 06:19 AM
I've made a note of that and will work the two when I get better aquainted with them.
I've worked with this one more than the one about tongues, I guess because I didn't understand what it was about.

I feel I'm wandering in to many unknown feilds at the moment and not grasping what grows in them. I need to concentrate on one or two of these gems you've been putting up till I understand them more, then move on.

Oh, I'm not stopping, just focusing. :)

12-19-2002, 06:24 AM
My mission in life is to help the other guitarists find the hidden meaning in the fretboard and relate it to the staff and to creating music. I am also willing to learn from others who have found beautiful ways of looking at these things.

12-19-2002, 06:44 AM
The dedication you have to your mission is commendable, szulc.
Some day I hope to have the oppertunity to explain something to you. ;)

12-20-2002, 05:27 AM
I am certain that you will.

07-29-2005, 01:35 AM
hello..i've tried cycle of 4th and 5th, have memorize it on the fretboard also..but untill now, i don't know what it is used for? i've read this whole thread n have also read Guni's article but i still don't know what it is used for ..please give me some example too, it might help me....thx

07-29-2005, 02:07 AM
It's basically so you can learn major scales in an orderly fashion. Like instead of learning Amajor then Bmajor then Cmajor, you learn Cmajor first (all natural) then Gmaj (1 sharp) then Dmaj (2 sharps) Amaj (3 sharps) ect. So when your learning the scale everywhere on the fretboard, you just have to sharp one more note then the last scale.

07-29-2005, 06:50 AM
hello..i've tried cycle of 4th and 5th, have memorize it on the fretboard also..but untill now, i don't know what it is used for? i've read this whole thread n have also read Guni's article but i still don't know what it is used for ..please give me some example too, it might help me....thx

Most chord progressions follow the cycle of 5ths:

II - V - I in Cmajor is Dmin - G7 - CMaj
As you can see that goes around the cycle, so if you have it memorized you can build a II - V - I off of any chord without giving much thought to where you are suppose to be going. So when you are soloing, in order to hit a chord tone which will make it sound like you know what you're doing, the excersizes will help show you where those chord tones are.

Also, by getting this one down it makes the learning curve on cycling major or minor 3rds considerably less painfull.

Los Boleros
07-29-2005, 08:41 PM
The Cycle of the flat fifth repeats every other time. Here is a riff that can be used in the key of G.

This riff done with some speed can have a pleasent out of scale experience.

07-29-2005, 09:07 PM
How did you get that Los? I dont see how you got the notes that go out of the key of G.

Los Boleros
07-29-2005, 09:13 PM
How did you get that Los? I dont see how you got the notes that go out of the key of G.The technical explanation is that it is made up of two Triads that repeat:
G major and Db major

Have you tryed it on your guitar yet? That would be the non-tech explanation.:cool:

07-29-2005, 11:04 PM
hahah yeah I did try it, but where did you get Gmaj and Dbmaj? Was the Dbmaj just random?

Los Boleros
07-29-2005, 11:09 PM
hahah yeah I did try it, but where did you get Gmaj and Dbmaj? Was the Dbmaj just random?Not really, the reason it cycles every two times is the the flat 5 is exactly half of an octave. the first 6 cromatic notes of a scale are tonic-b5 and the last 6 cromatic notes of a scale are 5-7. Something about that half-way point. If your on one side of it, it's b5 and on the other side its the 5.Building a symetric triad, be it major or minor on the flat five will always have a cool out of scale cycle.