Please explain the Circle of Fifths

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djhollowman
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Hi Ricardo, thanks for your help again!
Will I start with the bits I don't understand?
OK, here goes - I'll quote from your last post each time.
"imagine a group of 6 chords that share a key signature" - how do I do that? How do I know which chords share a key sig?
"turn the wheel so that whichever of the group of 6 is at top..." - why is this? why does it make a difference which one is at the top? how do I know which one to put to the top? Is it simply the first one?
"zero in on D as the centre..." - is that just because D is the middle one of the major chords you mentioned? (which were GAD - if the chords were something else eg EBC, would the centre be B?)
Moving on a bit.....
"So any type of chord outside of the gang of 6" - is this a constant thing? like a rule? Is the 6 significant or is it only a gang of 6 because you picked 6 chords?
"Power chords are harder if you don't know major or minor..." - by power chords do you mean roots and fifths,eg C5, E5 etc? How do you tell if they're min/maj cos they all have the perfect 5th?
And I don't understand the bit about chromatic chords, or I should say I don't understand the connection between that bit and the rest of it!
Your explanations are very good!:D It's my lack of basic music theory which is the problem here! I did, however, understand many of the other points!!
Question about the circle of 5ths - it doesn't keep repeating at intervals of 5 forever does it? And the intervals of 5 don't include sharps/flats?? Or is that only when you're dealing with C cos it has no sharps/flats? I mean, is it always the same "template" of one chord at top, 5 chords with sharps to the right, 5 chords with flats to the left, and 3 enharmonic chords at the bottom?
Like, if I started with G at the top, would the 5 chords to the right be D(efg)A(bcd)E(fga)B....now I'm confused! What's the next one?? Shouldn't it be F?? B(cde)F?
Am I just really NOT understanding this??? It's when you need to TURN the circle that the confusion comes! Brain melt..........
BTW, I know how to work out the chords from a given key by using formulas, eg key of C: I=C, II=Dm, III=Em, IV=F, V=G, VI=Am and VII=Bdim. I know the formula for minor chords is I=min, II=dim, III=maj, IV=min, V=min, VI=maj, VII=maj. And I understand about the relative minor having the same notes as the major chord eg. C and Amin being relative. But how any of this relates to the circle of 5ths is confusing in places!
Please help!
:(
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another virtuoso
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*By looking at a key signature, you know what notes are sharp/flat in that key. then using those notes, this is how you know what chords are major, minor or diminished: I Major, ii Minor, iii Minor, IV Major, V Major, vi Minor, vii Diminished. The roman numeral stands for which chord in the key you are using. Notice Majors have capital roman numerals while minors are small roman numerals. In the key of C, C is your major 1 chord, Dm is your ii chord, Em is your iii, F is your IV chord, etc. Remember the chord being major or minor has nothing to do with whether it is sharp or flat, these are two seperate things you have to combine. Now you know all these chords share the same key signature.

So to show me you understand this, what chords does the key of A contain?


*And about the power chords:
Power chords are simple chords using the 1 and the 5, also known as A5, C5, G5, etc. they typically will contain only two notes, but try adding the octave to the power chord to liven up its sound a bit.

A5 (with the octave added):

E: 5
A: 7
D: 7
G: x
B: x
E: x
on the E string your playing the root, an A. on the A string your playing the fifth above A, which is an E. on the D string you're adding a second A one octave above the root A. You can try barring the 5th and 4th string with your third finger or using your pinky to grab the octave note.


*The circle of fifths continues to go on in fifths as you go around the circle. once you get to F#, C is the fifth of that. then it just starts over again with G being the fifth of C and so on.
djhollowman
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Hey there, thanks for your help.
another virtuoso wrote:*By looking at a key signature, you know what notes are sharp/flat in that key. then using those notes, this is how you know what chords are major, minor or diminished: I Major, ii Minor, iii Minor, IV Major, V Major, vi Minor, vii Diminished.
Isn't that only the order they are in the case of a major key?
Minor keys are I Minor, ii Dim, III Major, iv Minor, v Minor, VI Major, VII Major,yes? That's from a book I have. I memorized it as well of course!
another virtuoso wrote:So to show me you understand this, what chords does the key of A contain?
A, Bm, C#m, D, E, F#m, G#dim.

I already knew the power chord bit, and about adding the octave etc, but it still doesn't explain how to determine whether a 5 chord is major or minor.
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Ricardo
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OK hollowman, you are not quite with me. Some explaination.

First of all when I type "GAD", I mean the MAJOR chords, G (as in the specific notes GBD, that is what notes make a G major chord), A (AC#E) and D (DF#A).

I was assuming and hoping that you understood that bit, or at least how to play those chords on guitar. Em and Bm refer to the E minor (EGB) and B minor (BDF#) chords.

So rather than breaking apart all those chords by what individual notes make them up, I was hoping you could just play them and visualize the Circle of 5th to help learn how KEYS and Chords and Scales are related. You could spell all the notes that make the chords:ABC#DEF#G. Ok, there you see 2 #'s, so you know the key signature and key center is D major or B minor that relates all the chords. But I am trying to get you to see on the circle the "gang of 6 chords".

GANG OF 6 Chords
So you don't get what I mean. here is the diagram again.
http://www.carolinaclassical.com/scales/circle2.jpg
Open and keep the window to the side. Now look at the letters that have a circle or an ELIPSE around them. Imagine those are MAJOR chords. The letters next to them, the relative minors, are MINOR chords. So now look where G major, A major, D major, encircled, and next to them, Eminor and B minor.

Do you see that there are 6 chords in that group ( the one I did not just mention is F# minor, under the A major chord). The center two chords would be D major and B minor. Because of this grouping, you can INFER from hearing only SAY, E minor chord and an F# minor chord, that the key center could be D major or B minor (2 #s), because of the gang of 6. Regardless if you name this chord progression as a mode, or the ii and iii chords from D major, you still have a related key signature or scale.

So the C chord is not in the group. It is outside of the group of 6, by one position counterclockwise. C major AND Aminor. Either chord introduced into your song or progression, implies a focus AWAY from D major/Bminor/2#'s. CorAminor is AWAY specifically one position counter clockwise, if you want to keep relating the other chords you played. It is as if you took away ONE sharp from your scale to introduce either chord (C or Am). So your key center SHIFTS to G/Em as the center when such a chord is introduced.

So to show me you understand what I am saying, what would the major scale and/or key signature be, looking at the circle of 5ths, for a tune that had a progression of chords that included F minor, and Bb major?

Ricardo
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Like, if I started with G at the top, would the 5 chords to the right be D(efg)A(bcd)E(fga)B....now I'm confused! What's the next one?? Shouldn't it be F?? B(cde)F?
No, the 6 chords are more tightly contained as I described above. Only one chord or position to the Right. That position has two chords. If G is at top, to the right you have D as you said, but also Bminor. To the left you have C major and Aminor. So to spell a G chord scale you have Gmaj (center), Aminor(left), Bminor(right), Cmajor(left), Dmajor(right), Eminor(center). THAT is the gang of 6 with G at top or center. G major or Eminor, one #.

Notice one chord is missing from the chord scale, but it is not a major or minor chord. Extra credit is what kind of chord is it, and where on the circle is it in relation to G and the G "gang of 6"?
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another virtuoso
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djhollowman wrote:Isn't that only the order they are in the case of a major key?
By understanding what the term "Relative Minor" means, you will know what notes are in a minor key even if your only given the major key signature. All minor scales have a major scale that corrosponds with it and has the same notes. the only difference is you start with a different root note. count out the notes in a C major scale, then count out what notes are in an A minor scale. they both contain the same notes! this is because they are relative scales to each other. take any major scale, take it down three frets, and that will be its relative minor.
So it is possible to figure out whats going on with the minor scale even when only given a major key signature.
djhollowman
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another virtuoso wrote:
djhollowman wrote:Isn't that only the order they are in the case of a major key?
By understanding what the term "Relative Minor" means, you will know what notes are in a minor key even if your only given the major key signature. All minor scales have a major scale that corrosponds with it and has the same notes. the only difference is you start with a different root note. count out the notes in a C major scale, then count out what notes are in an A minor scale. they both contain the same notes! this is because they are relative scales to each other. take any major scale, take it down three frets, and that will be its relative minor.
So it is possible to figure out whats going on with the minor scale even when only given a major key signature.
Ahh! Thanks man!
I already knew about the meaning of "relative minor"(I mean, I knew any given major key contains the same notes as its relative minor key, like for example of C and Am), but I don't think I've been applying it to what I want to know! Is it as simple as I don't need to think of the minor chord formula being different to the major chord formula, as long as I know the relationship between majors to their relative minors, yes??
What's confusing me is that this book I have actually has a separate table each for the major and then minor chord formulas. And it goes like this in my book: Major keys=I major, II minor, III minor, IV major, V major, VI minor, VII diminished. Then minor keys (sequence is in same order but starts at 6th chord, thus:)I minor, II diminished, III major, IV minor, V minor, VI major, finally VII major. So, as an example question (based on this info) would the II chord of Am be Bdim?? I'm thinking it is, and it would be the same chord as the VII chord of Am's relative major chord of C....and so it is. Any help much appreciated!! :D
djhollowman
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Ricardo wrote: First of all when I type "GAD", I mean the MAJOR chords, G (as in the specific notes GBD, that is what notes make a G major chord), A (AC#E) and D (DF#A).

I was assuming and hoping that you understood that bit, or at least how to play those chords on guitar. Em and Bm refer to the E minor (EGB) and B minor (BDF#) chords.

So rather than breaking apart all those chords by what individual notes make them up, I was hoping you could just play them and visualize the Circle of 5th to help learn how KEYS and Chords and Scales are related. You could spell all the notes that make the chords:ABC#DEF#G. Ok, there you see 2 #'s, so you know the key signature and key center is D major or B minor that relates all the chords. But I am trying to get you to see on the circle the "gang of 6 chords".
Bingo! Got that!
Ricardo wrote: So to show me you understand what I am saying, what would the major scale and/or key signature be, looking at the circle of 5ths, for a tune that had a progression of chords that included F minor, and Bb major?
OK, here goes! I'll "show my workings" to help! Right, Fm=F,Ab,C and Bb=Bb,D,F which spells Ab,Bb,C,D and F therefore it must be the key of sig of Eb/Cm, which is presumably where the third flat comes from, since I notice the key of Eb/Cm has three flats but the chords you mentioned only had two! The other chords of the group of 6 would be Gm and Ab.
Ricardo wrote: If G is at top, to the right you have D as you said, but also Bminor. To the left you have C major and Aminor. So to spell a G chord scale you have Gmaj (center), Aminor(left), Bminor(right), Cmajor(left), Dmajor(right), Eminor(center). THAT is the gang of 6 with G at top or center. G major or Eminor, one #.

Notice one chord is missing from the chord scale, but it is not a major or minor chord. Extra credit is what kind of chord is it, and where on the circle is it in relation to G and the G "gang of 6"?
OK, here I think the missing chord must be F#dim. And its position on the circle of fifths is.....hmmm! Well, I read this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diminished_triad
and it leads me to think its position on the circle would be right on the G/Em, since the notes in the diminshed chord include only one sharp. (But I'm really not sure of this last bit!!!!)
Greatly value your input! :D Things are becoming much clearer now.
You're very good at explaining things, and I really do appreciate your help, and that goes for you too "another virtuoso"!! Thank you guys!
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Ricardo
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OK, here goes! I'll "show my workings" to help! Right, Fm=F,Ab,C and Bb=Bb,D,F which spells Ab,Bb,C,D and F therefore it must be the key of sig of Eb/Cm, which is presumably where the third flat comes from, since I notice the key of Eb/Cm has three flats but the chords you mentioned only had two! The other chords of the group of 6 would be Gm and Ab.
YES you got it! And hopefully you see that by simply knowing 2 chord occur, you might relate a single key/scale/key signature without having to spell them out, simply because how they relate, perhaps being part of the "gang of 6".

So the F#diminshed is correct as well. But it is not in the gang of 6. You can think of it as more like a minor chord, but with its "foot in the door" of the key moving CLOCKWISE from where you are at. In other words, F#minor is in the key of D/Bminor, but the dimineshed form of the chord has a C NATURAL, so it relates to the key of G/Eminor better.

So just knowing that a chord is diminished gives lot of info. A dim (or Am7b5) tells you are in Bb/Gminor/2 flats territory.

Eventually these relationships will become intuative, but for now you can just look at the Circle of 5th and start to "visualize" keys and chords and scale relations. Also you can redraw the circle of 5th using also your roman numerals. For example (I will use lower case for minor chords), the Gang of 6 chords in a major key would look like this, reading clockwise:
IV/ii, I/vi, V/iii.

This idea can be carried on to the modes of the major scale. Perhaps you know Ionian dorian lydian mixo, aeolian, phrygian locrian? They correspong to the same roman numerals. But notice what happens on the circle of 5ths if you reorder your modes this way, based on a single TONIC or key center.

E lydian
E ionian
E mixolydian
E dorian
E aeolian
E phrygian
E Locrian

Notice as you change modes based on the same fundamental note or tonic, what happens to your number of sharps and flats, in this specific order. Also take note of the "Mood" change, the feeling or color these modes are moving in with this order. And finally, remember take note of the order of sharps and flats (sharps move FCGDAEB, and flats BEADGCF)

One last thing, the minor keys. You have roman numerals, but beaware that minor keys have to use the different minor scales (harmonic minor and somtimes melodic). This gets a little tricky, but again you can see how the Circle of 5th helps you deal with the chord scale relation. You said V in minor key was a minor chord. Based on the natural scale only. Harmonic or Meldic minor has the V chord in minor as a MAJOR chord. So if you don't find V major in the minor key, it was probably better to call your tune in the "AEOLIAN" mode, overall. But anyway, I could go into more detail if you are interested, but perhaps you can start seeing these things on your own.

Ricardo
djhollowman
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Wow, well, thank you once again, Ricardo! :D
I really do feel this is helping me.
Good point you made about seeing things for myself. I've played guitar for about 20 years, but never made any effort to learn much theory! So I'm trying to teach myself, with enormous help from the internet - which is just the most incredible resource!! The access one has to information nowadays compared to when I was still in school....well, there simply IS no comparison!
As I'm teaching myself, I'm trying to find some good books on the subject of music theory, with guitar-minded scales, modes, chords etc the main focus. Are there any specific books you (or anyone else) could recommend?? I've looked at several already of course, but some are more aimed at piano or similar. Also, there's just no substitute for being able to ASK someone about a specific question, and get feedback directly. Sometimes it's as simple as having the confusing part explained in a slightly different manner, or with a different example for instance, and it all suddenly slots into place!
Finally, I've done some work on learning the definition and usage of modes, but I have yet to find an entirely clear example of this, so I'd be very grateful if someone could point to something that would help!
My thanks again! :)
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