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Circle of Fifths

Chickers

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I'm interested in knowing more, and understanding the Circle of Fifths. I think I get the basic concept, but certainly don't claim to know what it is, and how to
use the Circle of Fifths. I have been spending a fair amount of time reading about it, and viewing videos.
YouTube, and the internet is loaded with discussions, explanations, guides, and lessons on the Circle of Fifths, but I'm wondering where it fits.
Myself, as a somewhat beginner accordion player----not a musician as yet----I generally use printed sheet music for all my music. I may change-up a intro,
or an ending a bit, but that's about it. The chords I use are generally from the written sheet music, with a occasional use of an inversion.
My point being; If I'm using written and composed sheet music, at this point, how important is knowing, and understanding the Circle of Fifths ?
It appears to be more beneficial for someone creating their own musical compositions, and scores.
I would greatly appreciate your comments.
CHICKERS
 

TomBR

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If you're happy to play from sheet music it's not important. You could play the music beautifully and have no need of understanding the Circle of Fifths, BUT, maybe it's interesting and worthwhile to know what's going on "under the hood" (bonnet) so that you develop an understanding of what's going on and why.

I think the Circle of Fifths is a good place to start understanding how chords work.

Anyone who plays Stradella bass can't escape the Circle of Fifths - it's there in the layout of the bass buttons.
Chords live in happy families. If you're playing a piece in C major chances are you'll use a lot of C, F and G chords, as I'm sure you know.

I think Chain of Fifths might be a useful expression, because when you play a C major chord the fifth note is a G, so the two are linked. That continues all around the chain until eventually you get to an F chord, where the C is the fifth note. You've completed the Circle of Fifths.

When you play a C chord you can play C bass or G bass, both fit because both are in the chord.

There's also the chain of thirds. Put a note between C and G to make a chord that sounds nice and you have two choices, E or E flat.
C to E is four semitones - a "Major third" (third note) - and that makes a Major chord
C to E flat is three semitones - a "Minor third" - and that makes a Minor chord.

When you use the E to make a C major chord it's three semitones from the E up to the G - a minor third.
When you use an E flat to make a C minor chord it's four semitones from the E up to the G - a major third.

So a major chord is a major third then a minor third.

A minor chord is a minor third then a major third. That chain of thirds links all the way around the Circle of Fifths!

What happens if you've got your major third that links the C and E of your chord, but instead of going up a minor third to the G you go a minor third from the C down to the A? You've got a minor third then a major third - you've got an A minor chord that uses two notes from C major. It's a close relation, it's really important - A minor is the "related minor" of C major. It's a really important chord when you play in C major.

A happy chord family, C closely related to G and F major and to A minor.

Understanding what notes are in a chord, and why, opens up the link between what's happening on the right and left hands of the accordion.

You said you'd looked at stuff online so your real question is "Why" rather than the "What" I've written above.

The reason I thought it might be helpful is that I hope it's a fairly small amount of information that might unlock chords and their relationships so that the "What" of playing from sheet music starts including an understanding of "Why."

Cheers
Tom
 
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losthobos

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Perhaps another interesting observation of the cycle of fifths and key signatures may be of interest....
Lets say we are in Key of G.... One sharp note... The 7th of the scale.. g, a, b, c, d, e,f#
If we lower the 7th note f# a semitone to f we then have, g, a, b, c, d, e, f...the notes of the C major scale... c, d, e, f, g, a, b..
If we lower the 7th of the scale b to Bb we have the notes of the F major scale f, g, a, bb, c, d, e....
If we lower the 7th e to Eb we have the notes of the Bb scale... Bb, c, d, Eb, f, g, a
Etc etc....
So further observation the shows that each time we flatten a 7th we move down the cycle of fifths and each time we raise a 7th we step up the cycle of fifths....
Brief example re key signatures reveals the cycle moving say up from the Key of Bb
Bb has 2 flat notes, F has 1 flat note, C has no flats or sharps, G has 1 sharp note, D has 2 sharp notes, A has 3 sharp etc etc
This is how your stradella is laid out
Hope that's helpful too
 

Chrisrayner

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For much music this aspect of theory is not really necessary. Where it comes into prominence is with jazz and blues. While much of blues and rhythm and blues uses the simple twelve bar blues, (in C: C;C;C;C; F;F;C;C G;G;C;C) it is quite common for players to step back round the circle.

For example in San Francisco Bay Blues, played in C, the player will often step down to A7 on the line “the best girl I ever had”. Frequently this modulation will be marked by a chromatic run down from C to A: C,B,Bb,A in the bass, and then progressing back to D7 and G7. Once you have played around with this sort of harmonic modulation you’ll start hearing it, or opportunities for it, all over the place. Best used in moderation. This is only one of a number of tricks which rely on familiarity with the circle of fifths.
 

Chickers

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I thank you all for your explanations, and comments. Based on the examples---it's no wonder I'm confused.
Very good points, but it will take more study on my part to understand.
I'm not at your level of musician, but I'm working at it.
My take-away; for now, enjoy my playing, and as I progress, I can better understand the Circle of Fifths, realize chords and transitions are
not accidents, and work my way to an understanding and appreciation.
Thanks loads folks.
CHICKERS
 
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