FINALLY …

We get to the “Circle Of Fifths”. Yay!

Print the Inner and Outer circles. Cut them out. Pin them together through the hole the middle, so that the inner rotates within the outer. Then we can discuss how to use it.

Circle Of Fifths (Outer)
Circle Of Fifths (Outer)
Circle Of Fifths (Inner)
Circle Of Fifths (Inner)

Coincidentally, there are 12 keys in the piano keyboard group, and 12 postions on the clock face. So I’ll be talking about things like “5 o’clock postion” to identify specific items. That’s really handy.

Position the outer so that the (musical) key you are thinking about is at the top (12 o’clock position). In the demo below I’ve got “C” at the top, but you can choose whatever you like.

Postion the inner so that the “R” arrow points to that same (musical) key. “R” stands for the “Root” (physical) key of the chosen (musical) key. It’s the same as “key 1” of the chord of the same name.

Read off the sister chords for that (musical) key. They are shown by the other arrows – “Perfect 4th” and “Perfect 5th”. You should understand, now, why I started this site with chords C, F, G. They are all from the same family.

Circle Of Fifths (Combined)
Circle Of Fifths (Combined)

If you look back at the “Chords And Keys” chart, for (musical) key “C”, you’ll see that the 4th and 5th notes of the scale are “F” and “G”. So the table and the circle are in agreement. Try a few more, just to convince yourself.

We had problems with the chart that we don’t have with the circle. From the circle you can see
The 7 white keys (those with single names)
The 5 black keys (those with dual names)

With “C” (which has zero sharps/flats) at 12 o’clock
going clockwise, we see the sequence of the increasing sharps
at 1 o’clock, G has 1
at 2 o’clock, D has 2
at 3 o’clock, E has 3
at 4 o’clock, A has 4
at 5 o’clock, B has 5
going anti-clockwise, we see the sequence of the increasing flats
F has 1
Bb has 2
Eb has 3
Ab has 4
Db has 5

That was SO difficult to see from the chart.

And we haven’t even begun …

1. You can instantly play the “B” scale, from your knowledge of [2, 2, 1], 2, [2, 2, 1].

I know “school trained” pianists, at “Grade 5” and higher, who cannot do that. They would need to look up (or have memorised) the chart for “B”. Only then can they play “B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#, B”.

2. You can instantly play the “B” chord, from your knowledge of (1, 3, 5). They can’t. They’d need to go to the chart again, and find 1st, 3rd, 5th from B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#, B.

3. You can instantly know that the sister chords for “B” are “E” and “A#/Bb“, and you can play them, from your knowledge of (1, 3, 5) as before. They can’t do either of these. They’d need to go to the chart again, to find the 4th and 5th notes of the B scale, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#, B. Then they’d need to look up those chords to work out which (physical) keys to press.

4. Even better, you can instantly glance at a “key signature” (which we’ll cover later), see 5 sharps and say “5 sharps means 5 o’clock so it’s (musical) key of B”. They can’t even begin to explain, coherently and in less than 10 minutes, what a “key signature” actually is.

Are you loving this tool?

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