The Cycle Of 5ths

That is certainly one way to look and use it. It is a tool used for many purposes.

That is, imho, a fair comment when applied to the actual notes that Justin plays in terms of their pitch falling then rising (as opposed to the note names which are an exact match for the circle of 5ths).

Correct. It would be impossible to start at the lowest possible note C on a guitar and do a complete clockwise lap of the circle of 5ths. It can be done on a grand piano with its 88 keys, its 7 octaves + 3 note span.

When going up in pitch - yes.

When going up in pitch - yes.

When going up in pitch - yes.

Check out the lesson for Coldplay - The Scientist where the guitar is tuned in 4ths.

Yes. Many musicians call it the circle of 4ths and read it anticlockwise, or actually have it written out in the inverse order to read 4ths clockwise. This is especially true of musicians who tend to play in keys with flats (think brass for example, as opposed to guitarists who tend to avoid those flat keys and like C, G, A, D, E etc.)


As stated, a grand piano allows this, not many other instruments.

This is not correct. An ascending 5th is inversely matched by a descending 4th (major 5th ← → minor 4th).

G is the 5th scale degree in the C major scale.

G is the 5th diatonic chord in the key of C major.

All good.

G can be at an interval of a 5th from C or at a 4th interval from C depending on whether the pitch movement is from low to high or high to low.

Justin is going to notes with the correct name to match exactly those shown in the clockwise direction of the circle of 5ths.

But, strictly speaking, he is not moving up in 5ths as he plays notes that alternately go lower in pitch then higher in pitch.

Good point. There is an easily overlooked yet important distinction between ‘intervals’ separate and independent of scales / scale degrees / chords in a key. Many of the same terms are used when discussing them and the overlaps are many.

I wrote a massively long topic covering this very thing in the old forum, which I have yet to migrate. The topic is still available in the archive here.

Yes, different things. I will write more.

It is an explanation that I find useful and it helps describe the derivation very clearly.

This is also true, but to me is a little more arbitrary. An analogy might be that it is akin to seeking something when you know in advance what that something will be. Like someone saying, “Hey, let’s arrange the 12 notes around a circle, but not in alphabetical order and see what happens. Wow – look! By some amazing magic trick they can be placed in this seemingly random order and they show a pattern of 5ths.”

This is subjective on my part and both can be correct.

I would suggest that these properties are all a result of the arrangement – not a means to creating the arrangement.


See my circle of 5ths topic. I must migrate it soon.

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Thank you for the detailed answer and the extra material, I will check it out, from a quick glance it seems very interesting.

Also makes sense why it is demonstrated this way. Overlapping terms in music theory certainly confuse me sometimes.

@jkorvola @Jozsef @stitch @TheMadman_tobyjenner

I have just created a new topic that I hope will help in this discussion.


Cool Mr C !

Will have to check it out at the weekend. A few days of knitting fog and herding cats, trying to get big French Agri Plant hire, come lop some trees down. Been a non playing week and the fun ain’t over yet. Will need beer and distractions at the weekend. This will do me fine !!

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I have now started to post instalments in a new topic on the theory and practical uses of the Circle of Fifths, beginning here: The Circle of Fifths Part 1 - where does it come from?
I hope people find it useful.

Cheers :smiley:
| Richard_close2u | JustinGuitar Official Guide, Approved Teacher & Moderator