A lot of people get really confused when it comes to the Circle of Fifths. What is it? How do I use it? Is it actually worth knowing??
The answer to the last question is...yes. Here's what it'll allow you to do:
- Play in ALL keys
- Find the relative minor very easily
- Read music
- Learn all the notes on your fretboard
- Improvise, write, and jam
Scroll down for the PDF download as well as the handy tips and mnemonics to make learning the Circle of Fifths a doddle.
The Circle Of Fifths/Fourths For Bass Guitar
Memorisation Tricks and Tips
You'll need to commit the following to memory. Spend a few minutes a day on this and you'll get it in no time at all.
First, you need to know the names of a few notes on the bass clef:
For sharp (#) keys - the ones going clockwise round the circle - learn this mnemonic:
Father Christmas Gave Dad An Electric Blanket
When you go in this direction round the circle, 5 is the magic number. Starting from C (no sharps or flats), keys go up a 5th at a time with sharps also being added a 5th at a time.
To find the name of a sharp key, locate the last sharp (to the right of the key signature) and raise that letter by one. That's the name of the key.
For flat (b) keys - the ones going anti clockwise round the circle - learn this mnemonic:
Blanket Explodes And Dad Gets Cold Feet
When you go in this direction round the circle, 4 is the magic number. Starting from C (no sharps or flats), keys go up a 4th at a time with flats also being added a 4th at a time.
To find the name of a flat key, locate the second to last flat (to the left of the key signature) and that's the name of the key.
Learn all that and you're good to go.
- Play a one octave scale from C Major, going up in 5ths each time (clockwise round the circle). Shout out the names of the notes as you go.
- Do the same the other way around the circle for the flat keys.
- Be able to locate the relative minor key of any major scale.
- Harmonise each major scale. This lesson will help.
- Look out for written music and try and figure out the key as quickly as you can.