A Lesson On The Application Of The Circle Of Fourths And Fifths

In today’s lesson, we’ll be focusing on the application of the circle of fourths and fifths.

The circle of fourths and fifths is popular among musicians and its importance cannot be denied because it’s used as a reference in a wide spectrum of topics in music.

Let’s discuss briefly on the circle of fourths and fifths before we get on with its application.

A Short Note On The Circle Of Fourths And Fifths

There are twelve musical notes:

…7 white notes (aka – “naturals”):

…and 5 black notes (aka – “accidentals”):

The geometrical representation of these notes in fourth and fifth intervals produces the circle of fourths. Take a look at all the notes:

…represented in a circle.

It is described as a circle of fourths and fifths because the interval between successive notes in the circle is in fourth and fifth intervals. So, it’s a circle of fourths and circle of fifths as well.

The Circle Of Fourths – Explained

The circle:

…can be considered as fourths in the counter-clockwise direction. For example, from C (on the 12 o’clock position):

… to F (on the 11 o’clock position):

… to Bb (on the 10 o’clock position):

… to Eb (on the 9 o’clock position):

…are all fourth intervals.

 

The Circle Of Fifths – Explained

 

The Application Of The Circle Of Fourths And Fifths

Beyond learning about the circle of fourths and fifths lies the knowledge of its application.

Although there are several ways to apply the circle of fourths and fifths, we’ll be focusing on two ways it can be applied:

In the determination of key-signature

In the determination of chord progression

Check it out!

Application #1 – Key Signature

 

Application #2 – Chord Progression

Final Words

From what you’ve learned in this lesson, I’m very certain that you’ll use the circle of fourths and fifths as a reference whenever topics like key-signature and chord progression are discussed.

In a subsequent lesson, we’ll be learning how to memorize the circle of fourths and fifths.

That’s all for now!

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Chuku Onyemachi

Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. I started teaching musicians in my neighbourhood in April 2005. Today, I'm humbled to work as a music consultant with HearandPlay Music Group for musicians in Africa and beyond.

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