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View Full Version : I need a mnemonic for the circle of fifths (FCGDAEB)



JessicaM
07-08-2016, 03:49 AM
Anybody have a great mnemonic (or want to create one) for the circle of 5ths (mostly F through B). Bonus points if you've somehow worked in the Minors!

The best we've come up with at my house is:

"Father, Can God Dump An Empty Bucket?"

It leaves something to be desired. ;)

What'cha got?

jollyboy
07-08-2016, 04:15 AM
Here's a few. (http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/FCGDAEB)

My personal favourite is: Faulty Condoms Give Doreen An Easy Baby :)

Kimosabe
07-08-2016, 05:28 AM
Yes, the order the chords normally progress is very important.

Uncle Rod Higuchi
07-08-2016, 05:42 AM
here goes:

"Food Court Grub Demands Appropriate Eating Behavior" :)

keep uke'in',

Futurethink
07-08-2016, 05:56 AM
Backwards (the order of flats and also the direction that chords normally progress) it's BEAD-GCF. How difficult is that to remember?

Well, the reason for a mnemonic is to make something easier to remember. Yes, the BEAD is a type of mnemonic, but the last three are not.
I think I'd like a better mnemonic than these (http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/BEADGCF).
Big Elephants And Dogs Get Concert Funding? --Nah.

JessicaM
07-08-2016, 07:23 AM
Backwards (the order of flats and also the direction that chords normally progress) it's BEAD-GCF. How difficult is that to remember?

You'd be surprised how hard it is for me to remember stuff ;)

JessicaM
07-08-2016, 07:25 AM
Well, the reason for a mnemonic is to make something easier to remember. Yes, the BEAD is a type of mnemonic, but the last three are not.
I think I'd like a better mnemonic than these (http://acronyms.thefreedictionary.com/BEADGCF).
Big Elephants And Dogs Get Concert Funding? --Nah.


Yeah, those ones at that link are doozies. I'd be better off just memorizing the letters!

Croaky Keith
07-08-2016, 07:58 AM
....and how many years did it take for you to learn all of the above!

The OP wants a mnemonic.........&, she is fairly new to playing, let's try & help with her present needs. :)

EDIT: ubulele has removed his complicated posting, to which the above refers.

Joyful Uke
07-08-2016, 11:00 AM
IMO, the mnemonics that I can most easily remember are the ones that I came up with for myself. When I've tried to use someone else's, that turns out to be just one more thing that I need to memorize. :-)

I don't have one to share with you for the circle of fifths, though.

Lori
07-08-2016, 12:54 PM
How about
Flirty Cute Girls Dart Around Every Boy
or
Funny Cats Give Dogs An Energy Boost
or
Fleas Can Give Dogs An Easy Bite

PhilUSAFRet
07-08-2016, 01:13 PM
Fugedaboudit

Jim Hanks
07-08-2016, 02:04 PM
I'm more of a visual learner I think so the mnemonics don't help me that much. I try to visualize the circle or visualize a piano chord to see out what the fifth of a root is. You could also get some stickers like these and spread them around judiciously: http://www.cafepress.com/+circle-of-fifths+stickers

Choirguy
07-08-2016, 07:17 PM
Fat Cats Gobble Ducks And Eat Birds, or reversed: BEAD Greatest Common Factor

Kekani
07-08-2016, 08:52 PM
Once I learned to play bass, the circle was easy, as long as you know where you are on the fretboard. Easier still because bass players rarely chord, and mostly deal with arpeggios. Eaiser still because its tuned completely in 4ths, which means the note that you're on is the 4th of the note on the same fret, 1 string up, or two frets down and 1 string down. OR, the 5th of the note that you're on is exactly 1 string down, or 1 string up & 2 frets up. It now becomes a visualized pattern which remains in any key for the most part.

I taught this to an ukulele player who immediately saw the patterns on the first two strings, and the top two strings. Opened up some different things for him that day.

And if anyone can figure out what I just wrote, you're a better man than I.

Tootler
07-08-2016, 09:46 PM
IMO, the mnemonics that I can most easily remember are the ones that I came up with for myself. When I've tried to use someone else's, that turns out to be just one more thing that I need to memorize. :-)

I don't have one to share with you for the circle of fifths, though.

To me that's the point of mnemonics, you make them up yourself and you're more likely to remember them. That's not to say that going with ones created by others aren't useful, it's just you are more likely to remember the ones you've created yourself.

phil_doleman
07-09-2016, 01:47 AM
Because we frequently go both ways around the circle of 5ths (or 4th if anticlockwise) it's good to have a mnemonic that can be reversed.
I use this one with my students:

Clockwise it goes:
Father Christmas Got Dad An Electric Blanket

and anti-clockwise it goes:
Blanket Exploded And Dad Got Cold Feet.

ramone
07-09-2016, 01:50 AM
Hey, you don't want to know? Fine, it's gone.

hey ubulele, please don't stop sharing your knowledge. your explanation made sense to me.

JessicaM
07-09-2016, 08:04 AM
I do it on my fingers. Start at the thumb: F (thumb 1st) G (index 2nd) A (middle 3rd) B (ring 4th) C on little finger (5th). Start at thumb: C D E G F G on little finger and so on.
For some fun you can claim that it is organic and a natural mathematical thing that you have five fingers and that there is a corresponding circle of musical fifths, also this helps recall and teach the method to others.
This sounds ingenious...so ingenious that I don't get it :) Can you explain it again?

JessicaM
07-09-2016, 08:07 AM
hey ubulele, please don't stop sharing your knowledge. your explanation made sense to me.

Looks like I missed something :/

Lots of great mnemonics here though. Maybe ubulele was explaining that the Circle of 5ths makes sense and so a person could choose to understand it rather than memorize it. About 20 years ago, I knew some music theory and did *understand* it, but now I forget it all and prefer know only what's useful right now. Not enough real estate in my memory for more right now. And really, I just want to be able to know the key and easily figure the 4th & 5th.

Kekani
07-09-2016, 09:36 AM
. . . And really, I just want to be able to know the key and easily figure the 4th & 5th.
If you know enough about music theory to know the importance of the circle of 5ths, then you probably already know your fretboard. If that's the case, let the fretboard tell you exactly where you are. I'm having my coffee, so I'll take a stab again:

Open strings - 4th string, g:
the 4th of G is C (one string up)
The 5th of G is D (one string up, two frets up)

Open strings - 2nd string, e:
The 4th of E is A (one string up)
The 5th of E is B (one string up, two frets up)

That is your pattern that will run across the 1st & 2nd strings, and 3rd & 4th strings.
Let's work it from your 1st and 3rd strings in the opposite direction (same basic pattern).
D- third string, second fret:
The 5th of D is A (one string down)
The 4th of D is G (one string down, two frets down, open G in this case)

B- first string, second fret:
The 5th of B is F# (one string down)
The 4th of B is E (one string down, two frets down, open E in this case)

Yes, this takes some thought, but like Jim mentioned, I too am a visual person.

You can, and should test this. Of course, the more you stray from open strings and 2nd fret (which covers 8 of 12), the more you need to know your fretboard. That said, you should easily figure out the patterns for G & A on the fourth string, C & D on the third string, E & F# and A & B.

One more for fun? Just because my friend plays in Bb, and another cannot:
Bb fourth string, third fret.
The 4th of Bb is Eb, one string up.
The 5th of Bb is F, one string up, two frets up.

BUT, you already knew that because Bb on the first string, first fret, the 4th is F, 1 string down.

I banged my head trying to remember the circle of 5ths because I thought I needed to know it. I know it better once I started playing more and letting the fretboard show me where it is.

Eventually, once you know the 4th & 5th of a certain note/chord, you'll learn that the 5th of one, is the 4th of the other. I know that sounds simple, and you probably already know, but if you think it while you play. . .
Ie: you know the 5th of G is D, and now you know the 4th of D is G.
You know the 5th of C is G, and now you know the 4th of G is C.

Hope this helps.

JessicaM
07-09-2016, 10:02 AM
If you know enough about music theory to know the importance of the circle of 5ths, then you probably already know your fretboard. If that's the case, let the fretboard tell you exactly where you are. I'm having my coffee, so I'll take a stab again:

Open strings - 4th string, g:
the 4th of G is C (one string up)
The 5th of G is D (one string up, two frets up)

Open strings - 2nd string, e:
The 4th of E is A (one string up)
The 5th of E is B (one string up, two frets up)

That is your pattern that will run across the 1st & 2nd strings, and 3rd & 4th strings.
Let's work it from your 1st and 3rd strings in the opposite direction (same basic pattern).
D- third string, second fret:
The 5th of D is A (one string down)
The 4th of D is G (one string down, two frets down, open G in this case)

B- first string, second fret:
The 5th of B is F# (one string down)
The 4th of B is E (one string down, two frets down, open E in this case)

Yes, this takes some thought, but like Jim mentioned, I too am a visual person.

You can, and should test this. Of course, the more you stray from open strings and 2nd fret (which covers 8 of 12), the more you need to know your fretboard. That said, you should easily figure out the patterns for G & A on the fourth string, C & D on the third string, E & F# and A & B.

One more for fun? Just because my friend plays in Bb, and another cannot:
Bb fourth string, third fret.
The 4th of Bb is Eb, one string up.
The 5th of Bb is F, one string up, two frets up.

BUT, you already knew that because Bb on the first string, first fret, the 4th is F, 1 string down.

I banged my head trying to remember the circle of 5ths because I thought I needed to know it. I know it better once I started playing more and letting the fretboard show me where it is.

Eventually, once you know the 4th & 5th of a certain note/chord, you'll learn that the 5th of one, is the 4th of the other. I know that sounds simple, and you probably already know, but if you think it while you play. . .
Ie: you know the 5th of G is D, and now you know the 4th of D is G.
You know the 5th of C is G, and now you know the 4th of G is C.

Hope this helps.

This too sounds brilliant! I'll pick through it once I have my instrument in front of me (trapped under a toddler at the moment).

Kekani
07-09-2016, 10:26 AM
This too sounds brilliant! I'll pick through it once I have my instrument in front of me (trapped under a toddler at the moment).
Okay, good, because I was going to delete the whole lengthy, boring, WTH read.

Plus, who the heck is a builder to share one way to learn the circle on the fretboard, much less an ukulele one. I mean, what the heck do I know about playing anyway. I'm just a builder. :)

JessicaM
07-09-2016, 01:17 PM
Okay, good, because I was going to delete the whole lengthy, boring, WTH read.

Plus, who the heck is a builder to share one way to learn the circle on the fretboard, much less an ukulele one. I mean, what the heck do I know about playing anyway. I'm just a builder. :)

It seems like you're a builder who happens to know a lot more about this than me! And even if you only knew a little more, I'd still have something to learn!

igorthebarbarian
07-09-2016, 02:14 PM
Fat Children Grub Down At Every Buffett

Jim Yates
07-09-2016, 06:31 PM
Order of sharps - Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle.
Order of flats - Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles' Father.
Same words in opposite order. I'm not sure, but I think I learned this from my grade five music teacher, Mr. McGash.

KaraUkey
07-09-2016, 08:16 PM
Forget Corgis Great Danes Are Easily Best
Foreman Can Give Dad An Early Break
Frank Can Give Dad An Early Breakfast
Frenchmen Can Germans Don't Australians Eat Bacon

Kekani
07-10-2016, 09:24 PM
Looks like I missed something :/

Lots of great mnemonics here though. Maybe ubulele was explaining that the Circle of 5ths makes sense and so a person could choose to understand it rather than memorize it. About 20 years ago, I knew some music theory and did *understand* it, but now I forget it all and prefer know only what's useful right now. Not enough real estate in my memory for more right now. And really, I just want to be able to know the key and easily figure the 4th & 5th.

I just saw a copy of ubulele's post. Yes, it was that good that someone took a screen shot of it and shared it with me. Had it been here, I wouldn't have posted anything - good stuff there. Love the 0011 - that one smacked me right in the head. Guess if I played more, I may have figured that one out. Maybe not. I will now, especially if I plan on playing guitar someday. . .

Nope, no mnemonics, and some potentially confusing stuff. I wouldn't read it without coffee, for sure. However, very appropriate for this thread, IMHO. If the topic is on the circle, then the context of ubulele's post should be understandable. Knowing, memorizing, understanding the circle of fifths is one thing; applying it to the ukulele and letting the patterns present itself is, well, visual for dummies for lack of a better term - me being the dummy of course. Just saying.
Note: completely understand motivation behind deleting the post. Just saying.

Jim Hanks
07-11-2016, 03:10 AM
I just edited my post #16 as requested.
Yeah, that's a neat device. It works for all the "white keys" except B - BCDEF - F# is the 5th of B. It works for all the black keys if you think of them as flats. If you think of them as sharps it doesn't work for A. For whatever that's worth.

jejorda2
07-15-2016, 09:41 AM
In 1991 I learned:
Four Children Good Destroy All Evil Books

Ukejenny
07-15-2016, 01:33 PM
For 30 years, our state listed All State scales in a certain order, going around the circle of 5ths, starting with C at the top, going down the flat side, and then coming back to the top and going down the sharp side. So, I learned, and my students learned: C, F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb and then G, D, A, E, B

THEN, about 5 years or so ago, they decided to go straight around, all in one direction, and the order is now: C, F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, B, E, A, D, G. It is like pulling teeth to get my older students switched over to the new order! I never realized how inflexible we all were, but I must confess, I like the old order better.


F Fierce
C Cats
G Get
D Down
A And
E Eat
B Birds

Ukejenny
07-15-2016, 01:47 PM
Relative Minors:

D Dogs
A Are
E Every
B Best
F# Friend
C# Choice
G# Grab

Nickie
07-15-2016, 02:12 PM
Kekani, that is brilliant! I'm gonna study it more when I have my uke. (I'm at work, ARGH)

Jenny, I like your posts too, I'm gonna write that down in my Music Theory notebook.....

Jon Moody
07-16-2016, 08:49 AM
I learned these in fourth grade orchestra.

Order of Sharps
Fat Cats Go Down Alleys Eating Birds

Order of Flats
Betsy Eats Apple Dumplings; George Catches Fish

Kekani
07-16-2016, 02:15 PM
Kekani, that is brilliant! I'm gonna study it more when I have my uke. (I'm at work, ARGH)
Thanks Nickie, but not so brilliant. Every bass player would know this pattern, as a lot of what we do initially can be based on the root & 5th arpeggio.
http://www.studybass.com/lessons/common-bass-patterns/roots-and-fifths/

Oddly, I picked up an ukulele one day at the UGH Exhibition, and in discussion with one of my friends (who plays, and teaches) he said he wanted to learn bass from me. All I said was he should already know how to play bass - just play on the 3rd string (A), and play the 5th on the 2nd string (two frets up) or 4th string (same fret), keep the beat, and go from there.
He didn't get the root/fifth relationship at the time from a bass/arpeggio perspective.

At that point I realized the ukulele was tuned in 4ths on the 1&2 and 3&4 strings. Yes, at that point. After 1 minute, the lights went on for my friend, who never realized it either, but immediately realized its application.

Honestly, if you test me on the circle of fifths, I'll fail, or I'll take a really long time once I hit F#. If I play music on my bass, I always know it, just by looking at the fretboard. If I know where the root is (I do), I'll always be able to play the notes of every scale because the pattern doesn't change, and thus play their 5th.

Kudos to all of you who have the circle memorized, and can put it into action on the instrument.

Ukejenny
07-16-2016, 02:33 PM
Kekani, that is brilliant! I'm gonna study it more when I have my uke. (I'm at work, ARGH)

Jenny, I like your posts too, I'm gonna write that down in my Music Theory notebook.....

Nickie, before you know it, you will have it all memorized!!!