Today I want to talk about the circle of fifths, or the cycle of fifths. This is a circle containing all 12 notes of the chromatic scale. They are arranged in fifths going up or down from C. Coming down the right side of the circle we start at C, then go to G, D, A, E, B. Down the other side we start at C and go to F, B flat, E flat, A flat, and D flat. Ok, so we have a circle with notes on it, what can that do for us?
Well, let's think of each note on the circle of fifths as a key. Starting at the top of the circle we have the key of C major. We know that the key of C major has no black keys. Let's move down the circle to the G major key. We know that the G major has one sharp in it. Moving down the circle to D, which has 2 sharps in it, we begin to see a pattern. Down again to A, with three sharps, E with four sharps, and so on.
The same thing happens going down the other way. C has no flats in it. The key of F has one flat, key of B flat has two, key of E flat has three, etc. But what else can it do? Well, let's look at the G again. What note is sharp in the G major scale? That's right, F. Notice the F just to the left of the C in the circle. Now, what notes are sharp in the next key down, D? That's right, F and C. As you can see, if we follow the notes around, the circle of fifths not only tells us the number of sharps and flats, it tells us what those sharps and flats are.
By memorizing the circle of fifths, you can more easily memorize the different keys and which notes are sharp and flat within those keys.
For the next lesson you can practice Counting 16th Notes .