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Do you have questions on the circle of fifths? Matt has answers. In this lesson, Matt goes into great detail to help you better explain the circle of fifths.
Taught by Matt Brown in Jazz Guitar with Matt seriesLength: 28:00Difficulty: 3.0 of 5
1. The TitleB. Learning New RepertoireThe circle of fifths is frequently referred to as the circle of fourths or cycle of fourths. These various titles all refer to the same diagram. The reasoning behind the two different titles is explained later in the lesson.2. Order of FlatsAt the beginning of any guitar sheet music, you will notice three features. The first symbol written on the staff is the treble clef sign. The treble clef is frequently referred to as the “G clef.” This is because the circular bottom portion of the symbol indicates where the note G occurs on the staff. Guitar music is always written in treble clef. The only exception occurs when a walking bass line is arranged for 7-string guitar. There are other clef symbols. For example, bass instruments are written in bass clef. Alto clef is another common clef. The key signature follows the appropriate clef symbol. This indicates the key that the piece is in. A key signature is comprised of either sharps or flats. The key of C is the only exception. It contains no sharps or flats.3. Order of Sharps
When a key signature containing one or more flats is written out, the flats always appear in the same order. This is known as the “order of flats.” A flat is written on the staff to indicate that a certain note is to be flatted throughout the course of the piece. The flats follow this order: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb, Fb. It is very important that you memorize the order of flats. Develop some sort of pneumonic device to help you.
Now, take a look at the actual circle. The circle of fifths is laid out in a manner similar to that of a clock. The key of C major is always written at the top in the 12 o’clock position. This is because the key signature for C major contains no sharps or flats. If you move one section to the left of the circle (11 o’clock position), one flat is added to the key signature. This particular key signature denotes the key of F.
The note F is a perfect fourth above C. If you move around the circle in a counterclockwise motion, each subsequent key is a perfect fourth above the last. This is why this diagram is often referred to as the “circle of fourths.” If you start at C and move around the circle in a clockwise motion, each subsequent key is a perfect fifth above the previous key. When moving around the diagram in this direction, you are moving in a circle of fifths.
From the order of flats, we know that the first flat is Bb. So, in the key of F, the note B is flatted. As a result, here is how an F major scale is spelled: F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F.
If we move one space counterclockwise from F, we reach the key of Bb Major. Notice how one additional flat is added to the key signature. The second flat in the order of flats is Eb. Thus, the key of Bb Major contains two flats-Bb and Eb. Here is the spelling of a Bb Major scale: Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb. As we continue to move around the circle in this direction, one flat is added to the key signature each time.Return to the key of C at the top of the circle. This time we will move around the circle in a clockwise direction. Each time we move one space, one sharp is added to the key signature. For example, the first key after C is the key of G. The key of G contains one sharp. The sharps are always written in the following order: F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#. “Fat cats get drunk at every bar” is an excellent pneumonic device that will help you remember the order of sharps.
Since G contains only one sharp, this sharp is F#. As a result, the key of G is spelled as follows: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G. If we move counterclockwise one space (up another perfect fifth interval) we reach the key of D. The key of D contains two sharps-F# and C#.
Every time you learn a new song or piece, first determine what key it is in. Use the circle of fifths as a reference guide to determine the key center. There are a few tricks to learn that will enable you to recognize the key without looking at the circle of fifths.Chapter 2: (9:35) Minor Keys For every major key, there is a corresponding “relative” minor key that shares the same key signature. The word “relative” indicates two keys that have different names, but share the same key signature. The relative minor scale of the major scale is referred to as the “Natural Minor” scale. This scale is built off of the sixth scale degree of the relative major scale. It is a very common compositional technique to switch from a major key to its relative minor in the course of a piece.
1. Trick for Flat KeysLoot at the second to last flat written in the key signature. This flat names the key. For example, look at a key signature containing three flats (Bb, Eb, and Ab). The second to last flat written is Eb. Thus, the name of this key is Eb major.2. Trick for Sharp KeysLook at the very last sharp written. The note a half step above the last sharp names the key. For example, look at a key signature that contains five sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#, A#). A half step above A# is B. Thus, this key is named B major.
Look at a key signature containing three sharps (F#, C#, G#). A half step above G# is the note A. As a result, this key is labeled A major.
Some keys on the circle can be written two different ways. Keys that sound the same but are written differently are referred to as “enharmonic keys.” For example, the key of B can also be written as the key of Cb major. Cb contains 7 flats. It is much easier to sight read a piece that contains 5 sharps in the key signature rather than 7 flats. For this reason, this key is typically written as B major with 5 sharps.
The pitches B and Cb sound exactly the same. They are simply written differently in a musical score. Other examples of enharmonic keys are Db/C# and Gb/F#. Since the key of Gb contains the same number of accidentals as F#, these two keys are equally common. In a jazz context however, this key is typically written as Gb.
In this lesson set, Matt will teach you everything you need to know to fluently play jazz guitar.
Check out this lesson to learn some basic jazz theory & chord voicings.Length: 31:36 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Learn some more advanced chord voicings as well as the Charleston rhythm.Length: 19:13 Difficulty: 3.0 FREE
Learn a handful of Set II voicings & round out your knowledge of the basic jazz chords.Length: 27:08 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Apply the chords you've learned & experiment with some solo ideas.Length: 32:47 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Learn which scales work with which jazz chord voicings.Length: 43:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Matt sheds some light on the circle of fifths.Length: 28:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Learn how to get the most out of your time when practicing.Length: 31:00 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Here's the second installment of Matt's proper practicing lesson.Length: 32:00 Difficulty: 3.0 Members Only
Learn how to avoid carpal tunnel and other hand injuries by using proper technique.Length: 46:19 Difficulty: 1.0 Members Only
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Matt Brown explains how to improvise over the changes to "All of Me."Length: 7:54 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Matt Brown begins talking about solo arrangements in this lesson. He teaches Carcassi's "Estudio No. 1" as an introduction to this concept.Length: 18:10 Difficulty: 2.5 Members Only
Matt Brown returns to his Jazz series with a review lesson. He applies the standard ii V I progression to the circle of fifths.Length: 18:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
In lesson 14, Matt discusses the turnback progression in the jazz style.Length: 22:20 Difficulty: 1.5 Members Only
Matt brown discusses and demonstrates the set three voicings used in jazz guitar.Length: 25:42 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
In this lesson, Matt demonstrates how to practice jazz solo arrangements by taking a look at "Here's That Rainy Day."Length: 35:10 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
In lesson 17, Matt reviews and expands on the jazz version of the 12 bar blues form.Length: 23:20 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
In this lesson, Matt adds to your voicing repertoire while playing the Charleston rhythm.Length: 14:22 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Matt Brown talks about lead options when playing a blues in B flat major.Length: 23:35 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Matt Brown provides instruction and examples of playing jazz heads in the key of F. Once again, all examples follow the 12 bar blues form.Length: 18:22 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Matt Brown takes another look at blues heads in the key of B flat. In this lesson, he covers a head by Thelonious Monk.Length: 10:03 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Matt Brown takes a look at a solo arrangement and provides thoughts and tools necessary to complete this type of guitar playing.Length: 23:13 Difficulty: 2.0 Members Only
Matt Brown starts breaking down the rhythmic tendencies and patterns to the Brazilian Bossa Nova style of playing.Length: 17:56 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
In lesson 24 of his Jazz series, Matt takes a look at the melody to Blue Bossa.Length: 9:12 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
Matt Brown takes a look at the available chord voicings for Blue Bossa.Length: 10:39 Difficulty: 0.0 Members Only
About Matt Brown
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Matt Brown began playing the guitar at the age of 11. "It was a rule in my family to learn and play an instrument for at least two years. I had been introduced to a lot of great music at the time by friends and their older siblings. I was really into bands like Nirvana, Alice In Chains, and Smashing Pumpkins, so the decision to pick up the guitar came pretty easily."
Matt's musical training has always followed a very structured path. He began studying the guitar with Dayton, Ohio guitar great Danny Voris. I began learning scales, chords, and basic songs like any other guitarist. After breaking his left wrist after playing for only a year, Matt began to study music theory in great detail. I wanted to keep going with my lessons, but I obviously couldn't play at all. Danny basically gave me the equivalent of a freshman year music theory course in the span of two months. These months proved to have a huge impact on Brown's approach to the instrument.
Brown continued his music education at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio. He completed a degree in Classical Guitar Performance in 2002. While at Capital, he also studied jazz guitar and recording techniques in great detail. "I've never had any desire to perform jazz music. Its lack of relevance to modern culture has always turned me off. However, nothing will improve your chops more than studying this music."
Matt Brown currently resides in Dayton, Ohio. He teaches lessons locally as well as at Capital University's Community Music School. Matt's recent projects include writing and recording with his new, as of yet nameless band as well as the formation of a cover band called The Dirty Cunnies.
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