More Movable Power Chords & the Circle of Fifths (Guitar Lesson)

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Mark Brennan

More Movable Power Chords & the Circle of Fifths

Mark continues his discussion of power chords. This time around, he explains the circle of 5ths and demonstrates some power chord progressions that illustrate this concept.

Taught by Mark Brennan in Blues Guitar For Beginners seriesLength: 33:18Difficulty: 1.5 of 5

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Member Comments about this Lesson

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jmurray8100jmurray8100 replied

very confusing!

PaulTrewPaulTrew replied

Loving this lesson Mark even though I am finding it really challenging. Thanks to the Great supplementary material im getting there but some of them Finger stretches WOOOY LOL Great stuff ! Over the moon with the progression so far and cant wait to be jamming some Blues BIG Thanks Mark !

oG33MANooG33MANo replied

This totally confused me I lost track of which tab i was supposed to be using[email protected] replied

I just bought the Boos Chromatic tuner Mark has, and just realized that it could be also used as a great tool to know where you are on the Fretboard, to double check what Power Chord, chord or note you are playing when you are practicing the circle of fifths or perhaps other lessons (Don't know if Mark will approve of my idea?)

gigliottiusgigliottius replied

I don't get what I, IV, V means in relation to anything?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Giasone......I, IV, and V refer to chord functions within a particular key. These are chords built off the first, fourth, and fifth scale tones of that key. So, for example, in the key of C major these chords would be C or just C5 (power chord), F, or F5, and G, or G5. In G major the I chord would be G, the IV chord would C, and the V chord would be D......hope this makes sense.

nmdthreenmdthree replied

I can't find the video lesson 19 scene 3. I feel that I am missing a big piece of the lesson and it's natural progression

Jammin JohnJammin John replied

Use the "forward" arrow to move between scenes or you can use the "elevator" control located just beneath the volume control at the lower right hand corner of the video screen. Hope this helps.

Jammin JohnJammin John replied

Hey Mark, In Scene 6 at 6:30 are you lifting your index finger off the Eb on the 5th string 6th fret so you can reach the Gb (7th) with your pinkie at the ninth fret? It is hard to distinguish in the video as that finger is almost hidden from view. I am having trouble stretching my pinkie to reach even the 6th when playing on the frets higher up the neck towards position one.

RomaroRomaro replied

The circle of fifths is doing my head in. The progression does not go up in fifths, as whole notes or semi tones but in sevenths as semi tones. So why are they called fifths? Fifths bears no relation to the actual scale so I am confused...

Jammin JohnJammin John replied

If you will look at the bottom of the S/M it's right there.

jsher62jsher62 replied

it would have been nice and helpful if you would have added the diagram for the circle in the supplemental content. Just a thought

bobclarkbobclark replied

This, to me, was like learning to fly the space shuttle, at first. After watching this lesson 7 times..I get it! Thanks so much. Everything now is falling into place. Seems this lesson MAY be the most important of ALL! Thanks Again!!

jon463jon463 replied

maybe im missing something, but whats the differents between root five and root six?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Jonathan.....the root of the power chord is the name of the note which gives the chord its name.....(E5 power chord's root is the Note E). Root 5 or root 6 indicates the string on which the root is a G5 root 6 has its root on the low E6 string (which would be on the 3rd fret). The G5 root 5 would put the root on the fifth String A (which would put the root on the 10 fret of the fifth string)....hope this helps....Mark

jon463jon463 replied

maybe im missing something, but whats the differents between root five and root six?

jon463jon463 replied

Enter your comment here.

jon463jon463 replied

In the circle , do you move 5 up with the pattern whole step whole step 1/2 step whole step whole step whole step 1/2 step, but just move up 5 from each root?

coreymichaelcoreymichael replied

Mark. Great Lesson. Are you going to do an acoustic series?

coreymichaelcoreymichael replied

Mark. Great Lesson. Are you going to do an acoustic series?

jhenriksenjhenriksen replied

I understand that the Circle of Fifths is a way to line up the keys according to the number of sharps and flats in each key. However, I'm not quite sure how you get to a "fifth," i.e. the 5 steps to the next key. On the Circle of Fifths, you apparently just count 5 letters to get to the next key, as opposed to 5 whole steps, otherwise from C to G would have to be C, D, E, F#, G#. Assuming you just count letters, why then when you go clockwise from B to the next key, you end up at F#? Why isn't it B, C, D, E, F, instead of F#? And if you're actually countying 5 whole steps, why isn't the first step C, D, E, F#, G#? There seems to be no consistency in the way you count a "fifth" to the next key.

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hi Jack....sorry for taking so long to reply...and another good question. When moving in the clockwise direction of the circle, you are going up a perfect fifth. You will spell up the first five notes of that key's major scale. So for C, it's C,D,E,F, then G. If you're familiar with the construction of a major scale, that would be (starting on C) a whole step, whole step, half step, then another whole step.. This is important, as you need to spell the first five notes of the scale correctly. From G you have G,A,B,C,D. From D you have D,E,F#,G, then A. (GMajor has F# in the key signature). Notice that these first five notes of the scale are the LAST five notes of the previous scale. Going from B to F#, you would spell B,C#,D#, E, then F#. Conversely, when you move around the counterclockwise direction of the circle, you spell up four letter names. From C you have C,D,E, the F. From F you have F,G,A, then Bb. The key is spelling the scale correctly...............hope this helps, let me know if this makes sense to you...Mark

jhenriksenjhenriksen replied

If you are playing a piece without tab, how do you know whether to play a power chord as a root 6, 5 or 4? For example, on the first page of the supplemental material, the traditional notation for A5 in frames 8 and 14 are exactly the same yet the tab shows the A5 in frame 8 to be played as a root 5 power chord but the tab in frame 14 indicates a root 4 power chord. The same thing in frames 29 and 35. The traditional notes are the same for A5 yet in frame 29 the A5 is played as a root 6 chord and in frame 35 it's played as a root 5 power chord. Do you just pick the chord closest to where you are playing the other chords?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Hey Jack...good question. In this lesson, I was demonstrating the root movement of the three power chords types with regards to the circle of fifths. The particular form of the A5 was constrained to the different root movements. As far as which form you use is really a judgement call on your part. A lot of this has to do with the context of the music. It might be more convenient to use a particular form depending on what position on the neck you're at. You want to try to get smooth movement between chords with as little hand movement and shifting as possible. Another important consideration is the different tones the three froms give you. The A5 root 5 from sounds a lot different than the root 6 form. Try playing a power chord in all three forms and notice how they have different tones. This is due primarily to the different string lengths.

davem_ordavem_or replied

Terrific lesson. How are you getting that tone? Is it just the amp or are you using a pedal also?

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

I was playing through the crunch channel of the Mesa Mark V they have at the studio......nice amp. No pedals, except a Boss TU-2 tuner.

eyeofsauroneyeofsauron replied

I'm really struggling with the 12 bar blues exercise at the end of this lesson. Spreading my fingers out across five frets causes pain if I hold that position for more than a few seconds. Is this normal for a beginner? Also, would this improve if I had a guitar with a different shaped neck? My existing guitar is U-shaped, but I know that there are different shapes.

strat9strat9 replied

Circle of 5ths makes sense....finally! Your lesons are grat Mark!

larazarlarazar replied

Mark, I am happy to call you my teacher, I follow your lessons and improve my playing steadily thanks to your insightful instructions. Thanks!!

wayne66wayne66 replied

MarkBrennanMarkBrennan replied

Lessons 20, 21, and 22 are in the tank..stay tuned

whodeyvolswhodeyvols replied

Great lesson,very clear.

wayne66wayne66 replied

Thanks for doing this, Mark. Your many years of teaching are evident. Since I've been taking these lessons I've been practicing nearly every day. Just a suggestion... how about a strumming pattern lesson?

Blues Guitar For Beginners

Found in our Beginner Lesson Sets

New to guitar and love the blues? This course is perfect for you!

Series Intro - Guitar Parts and TuningLesson 1

Series Intro - Guitar Parts and Tuning

Mark introduces his Phase 1 series and covers some fundamental electric guitar basics.

Length: 30:12 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
AmplificationLesson 2


Mark provides a detailed overview of amplification. This lesson has some great info for any electric player.

Length: 33:55 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Using Tablature and Learning the FretboardLesson 3

Using Tablature and Learning the Fretboard

Before we start rocking, Mark goes over some tools and training necessary to every beginning guitarist.

Length: 12:52 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Right Hand TechniqueLesson 4

Right Hand Technique

It's time to get some sound out of your guitar. Mark begins with picking hand technique.

Length: 31:34 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Left Hand TechniqueLesson 5

Left Hand Technique

Mark explains proper left hand technique from the ground up.

Length: 10:36 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Natural Notes in the 1st PositionLesson 6

Natural Notes in the 1st Position

Mark teaches you all of the natural notes played in first position. He uses two classic melodies to supplement this information.

Length: 25:42 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The C Major Scale - 1st PositionLesson 7

The C Major Scale - 1st Position

It's time to learn your first scale - the C major scale in first position. Mark also explains how the major scale is constructed.

Length: 21:31 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Chords in C major - Part 1Lesson 8

Chords in C major - Part 1

Mark covers 7 basic chords in the key of C major.

Length: 35:14 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Chords in C major - Part 2Lesson 9

Chords in C major - Part 2

Mark expands on chords in C major by showing full forms of the chords you learned in Part 1. He also teaches you the chord progression to a familiar tune.

Length: 25:00 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Power Chord PrimerLesson 10

Power Chord Primer

It's time to start making some noise by using power chords and palm muting. Mark gives you the framework to start rocking with the 12 bar blues progression.

Length: 36:43 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Open Position Minor PentatonicLesson 11

Open Position Minor Pentatonic

Take your knowledge of the notes in the first position and start jamming on a simple pentatonic riff.

Length: 14:34 Difficulty: 1.0 FREE
Blues Scale Basics with Hammer-ons, Pull-offs, and VibratoLesson 12

Blues Scale Basics with Hammer-ons, Pull-offs, and Vibrato

Let's build on lesson 11 with an extended discussion of the pentatonic scale. For lesson 12, we'll simply add one note to the minor pentatonic scale to give us the famous minor blues scale. We'll also...

Length: 36:27 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Movable Power ChordsLesson 13

Movable Power Chords

Mark explains how to finger power chords and how they can be moved anywhere on the fretboard. He also shows an exercise that will help you remember the name of each power chord.

Length: 16:28 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Rhythmic Notation Part 1Lesson 14

Rhythmic Notation Part 1

Mark Brennan explains rhythmic notation, tempos, time signatures, note values, and more in this lesson.

Length: 32:14 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Key of G MajorLesson 15

The Key of G Major

Mark explores the key of G major in this lesson. He covers the first position pattern of the scale and explains how it can be harmonized in thirds.

Length: 33:22 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Chords of G MajorLesson 16

Chords of G Major

Mark teaches the basic chords of G major as well as some other exercises to get you acquainted with this key.

Length: 34:28 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Key of D MajorLesson 17

The Key of D Major

Mark explains the basics of D major.

Length: 25:00 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Chords in D MajorLesson 18

Chords in D Major

Mark takes you through the chords of D major and explains some new ones that you haven't encountered yet.

Length: 35:00 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
More Movable Power Chords & the Circle of FifthsLesson 19

More Movable Power Chords & the Circle of Fifths

Mark continues his discussion of power chords. This time around, he explains the circle of 5ths and demonstrates some power chord progressions that illustrate this concept.

Length: 33:18 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
The Movable Minor Pentatonic ScaleLesson 20

The Movable Minor Pentatonic Scale

Mark teaches the 1st box of the minor pentatonic scale.

Length: 32:31 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
The Minor Blues Scale Transposed to ALesson 21

The Minor Blues Scale Transposed to A

Mark explains how you can transpose the pentatonic pattern covered in lesson 20 to the key of A minor. He also shows the "lower extension box" and "home plate box."

Length: 26:09 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Blues Boogie ShuffleLesson 22

Blues Boogie Shuffle

Mark teaches the difference between straight eighth notes and the shuffle feel.

Length: 42:33 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Amplification Part TwoLesson 23

Amplification Part Two

In response to member requests, Mark added another amplification lesson to his growing phase 1 series. In this lesson, he compares 3 classes of amps from entry level models all the way to a Mesa Mark V.

Length: 40:45 Difficulty: 0.5 Members Only
Introduction To ImprovisationLesson 24

Introduction To Improvisation

In this lesson, Mark teaches some blues licks that can be used when improvising over a 12 bar blues progression.

Length: 24:01 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
The Key of A MinorLesson 25

The Key of A Minor

Mark covers the key of A minor.

Length: 29:36 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Two Movable Major Chord FormsLesson 26

Two Movable Major Chord Forms

Mark teaches two movable major chord forms and gives many examples of how to practice playing them.

Length: 26:10 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
I-IV-V Progression RevisitedLesson 27

I-IV-V Progression Revisited

Mark Brennan shows you how to apply the chord forms learned in lesson 26 to a I-IV-V progression.

Length: 21:52 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Movable Dominant 7th Chord FormsLesson 28

Movable Dominant 7th Chord Forms

Mark Brennan continues his teachings on movable chord forms. In this lesson he shows the dominant 7th chords and how to use them in a 12 bar blues progression.

Length: 19:49 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Movable Minor and Minor 7th Chord FormsLesson 29

Movable Minor and Minor 7th Chord Forms

Mark Brennan teaches these minor chord forms and how they are movable up and down the fretboard. He also shows how to use these chords in common progressions.

Length: 21:29 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
Mark Brennan

About Mark Brennan View Full Biography Mark Brennan, born August 12th, 1954 in Cleveland, Ohio, began playing guitar at the age of 10. His first influences were from the Ventures and the British Invasion, especially the Beatles and Rolling Stones. Shortly afterwards he was playing in rock bands with his brother on drums, developing his ear by learning songs straight from records. Playing in a band became a passion.

In high school, he grew to love acoustic and classical guitar. He spent time playing acoustic music, influenced by The Eagles, CSN, Dan Folgelberg, James Taylor, Joni Mitchell, etc. In the 70's, he headed a very popular Cleveland band, The Brennan-Cosma Band, which played a variety of acoustic and rock music, along with originals. He also took up classicalguitar, and began developing his fingerstyle technique.

Mark is a graduate of Cleveland State University (1980), with a Bachelor of Music in Classical guitar performance. He also studied Music Composition, and took many Music Education classes. After graduation, he began his private teaching career, teaching electric, acoustic, and classical guitar, along with music theory. He taught in various studios and guitar shops throughout his career, and currently has a private practice at his home in Fairview Park, Ohio.

In the 80's Mark took an affection to Progressive rock. With his band Polyphony, he was influenced by the music of Yes, Genesis, Kansas, ELP, Styx, along with a set of prog rock originals.

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