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Shred Academy - Free Guitar Lesson by Mario Gorito


 
 

 

Circle of Fifths

By Mario Gorito

 

Hey everyone! Here is a lesson on major scales and the circle of fifths! I hope you enjoy it!

Objective: To learn and memorize the 12 major scales, the circle of fifths, and how they connect together.

A great way to learn and memorize our major scales is through the circle of fifths. What exactly is the circle of fifths?

Here it is:                                                C
                                                        F          G
                                                    Bb                D
                                                  Eb                    A
                                                    Ab                E
                                                       Db/C#      B
                                                            Gb/F#

So, what does this circle mean?
- The circle of fifths has many purposes, but for now, we will start using it as a way to memorize our major scales.

As you can tell, the top of the circle starts on a C note, and clockwise, it goes up in intervals of perfect fifths. However, counter-clockwise, it goes down in intervals of perfect fifths.

Cool, now that we have that down, we can begin to learn the notes on our major scale in a simpler manner. One way of finding our major scales is by the order of whole and half steps that make them up.

Major scales are made up of this order of steps:
- whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half.

An example would be the C major scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, B.
Another example just for fun would be the Eb major scale: Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C, D.

If you analyze both scales, you will realize that they are both made up of that order of steps, w,w,h,w,w,w,h.

-- However, a very easy way to remember these scales to the core is by using the circle of fifths, and here’s what I mean by that.

By memorizing the circle of fifths, we will know exactly how many sharps (#) or flats (b) each major scale has. Every time we go up (clockwise) the circle of fifths, we add a sharp to the scale, and every time we go down (counter clockwise) the circle of fifths, we add a flat to the scale. With that information, now we only need to memorize which sharps and flats to add to the next scale.

Ok, enough talk, let’s start to dissect this thing.


Let’s go up the circle of fifths until we reach C#, which should give us 7 sharps.

C (No Sharps) C, D, E, F, G, A, B.
G (1 Sharp) G, A, B, C, D, E, F#.
D (2 Sharps) D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#.
A (3 Sharps) A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#.
E (4 Sharps) E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#.
B (5 Sharps) B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#.
F# (6 Sharps) F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D#, E#.
C# (7 Sharps) C#, D#, E#, F#, G#, A#, B#.

See the pattern?

Ok, now let’s do the same thing, except now we’ll go down the circle of fifths until we reach Cb, or (B), which will give us 7 flats.

C (No Flats) C, D, E, F, G, A, B.
F (1 Flat) F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E.
Bb (2 Flats) Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A.
Eb (3 Flats) Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C, D.
Ab (4 Flats) Ab, Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, G.
Db (5 Flats) Db, Eb, F, Gb, Ab, Bb, C.
Gb (6 Flats) Gb, Ab, Bb, Cb, Db, Eb, F.
Cb (7 Flats) Cb, Db, Eb, Fb, Gb, Ab, Bb.

Awesome! Now we have all our major scales in all 12 keys!

Now, let’s not be discouraged by the sharps and flats on each scale that we need to memorize. If we take a closer look at those scales, we’ll find out that we only need to memorize patterns. And of course, the more we practice thinking of these patterns, the easier it will be to identify every major scale that you want, within seconds.

The sharps are added to each scale in this order:

- F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#.

The flats are added to each scale in this order:

- Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb, Fb.

Now, we should figure out the pattern of the order, and we are good to go!

Hope you enjoyed and found this information useful!

Mario

 


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