#11 Circle of Fifths

  1. joeybug
    Lesson #11 Notes

    * Many songs include more than just the I, IV & V chords. These subtler chord progressions are easier to understand and play once you are familiar with relative minors the circle of fifth movement
    * The circle of fifths arranges twelve musical notes so that a step counter-clockwise takes you up a 5th and a step clockwise takes you up a 4th.
    * Counter-clockwise: G is a 5th above C, B is a 5th above E
    * Clockwise: F is a 4th above C, Bb is a 4th above F
    * Every major chord has a relative minor chord that has many of the same notes as its relative minor.

  2. joeybug
    * The relative minor is the vi chord: A is the 6th note in the C major scale, so Am is the relative minor to the C major chord[/B]
    * Am is relative minor to C; C is relative major to Am.
    * If a song includes minor chords, they are usually the relative minors of the I, IV & V chords
    *A song in the key of C might include Am (relative minor the C), Dm (relative minor of F, the IV chord) or Em (relative minor of G, the V chord)
    * In circle of fifths progressions, you leave the I chord, creating tensions until you resolve the tension by using clockwise motion to come back to[B] I going up by 4ths until you reach "home" at the I chord.

  3. joeybug
    * As you move clockwise along the circle, the chords can be major or minor, but the V chord is almost always a 7th.
    * The I-VI-II-V often starts with a series of descending chords taking you from I to VI.
    * In fact whenever you hear chords walking down three frets chromatically (one fret at a time) it usually means you're going from I to VI starting a VI-II-V-I.
    *Many songs contain a II-VI-II-V-I circle of fifths sequence.
    * If it's in the bridge and the chords are all sevenths, it's referred to as the "I Got Rhythm" bridge
  4. infidel
    For beginners, the order of fourths is more useful to start memorising as most chord progressions move in fourths:

    Here's a mnemonic:

    "C the Fabulous BEAD Gees BEAD Gees"

    There is no mnemonic I've thought of for this, but it's also very useful to memorise this:

    vii iii vi ii V7 I IV
  5. ubulele
    Whenever you go from F to a B in the ascending 4ths (descending 5ths) sequence, i.e., the resolution sequence, remember that you have to lower the B and any notes that follow. C > F > Bb > Eb …. Similarly, C# > F# > B (natural). Because of this I rephrase the sequence as BEADGCF, with the shift happening when you wrap.

    Also, in joebug's 3rd message, the sequence starts with III, not II: III-VI-II-V-I.
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