4 levels of the Circle of Fifths

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0:00 Introduction.
0:31 essential signatures.
3:22 associated keys.
6:07 ToneGym.
6:46 progressions.
9:03 modal brightness.
11:29 why the ?
12:39 outro & Patreon.

4 levels of the

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28 Comments

  1. I love your approach to music theory and how you explain it makes it seem so easy. You always do a great job on these videos!

  2. As a non-musician, each video feels like some hidden super complex musical knowledge box that i have somehow found access to. Fascinating!

    But it’s just the basics,of course 🙂

    1. It helps understanding to try things out with a polyphonic instrument, too. You don’t have to be any good at it, or to have a “pro” instrument.

    2. I don’t get it. If you’ve been watching his channel why are you still not a musician? Has this not inspired you to give it a shot?

    3. @ghost mall well,i like to listen and learn about it for fun,but not necessarily for doing it. At least not now, i’m a uni student in International Relations and have enough of other stuff to care about. I do art as a hobby and other craft related stuff.

      Maybe in the future,not in the mood.

  3. Your channel has brought new exciting thoughts, examples, and facts to my 20+ year music knowledge growth. I have a 3 year old now, but as she gets older, we will be going back to binge watch all your videos when I start teaching her about music and theory 😁😁

  4. I thought that the reason for the circle of 5ths is that if the fundamental tone is C then the loudest overtone we hear not a C is G. So when we play a C we also hear a G pretty dominantly (pun intended). So that’s why there’s such a strong relationship between a fundamental note and its 5th.

    1. Yeah, but the reason the overtone exists in the first place is what David explained, the physical reason: Take a guitar string – then the tones this string can produce are all those waves, where the length of the string is divided into equal parts. So the string can have 1,2,3,4,5,… “antinodes” (maxima). The tone with 1 maximum is the tone itself, the one with 2 is the octave (you produce it as a flageolet), the one with 3 is the fifth.
      Now when a guitar string (or even anything else) vibrates, it will be constantly bent. At the same time, the steeper you bent something, the more energy is needed for that. This means, that the higher order overtones will be damped far more than the tone, the octave and the fifth. This is the reason that you will hear the fifth far better than other overtones.

  5. Related Keys are where I learned about the Circle of Fifths. As an EDM DJ, Mixing in Key can give you a smoother more consonant transition between tracks.

  6. Absolutely brilliant presentation of the circle of fifths. This is why I subscribe and support this channel. The topics are presented in the most clear and concise way possible. You are a natural teacher, and if you teach beyond YouTube your students should consider themselves very lucky.

  7. Back in highschool band I really undervalued the usefulness of the circle of fifths, something I’ve definitely appreciated since delving into music theory

  8. One of my experiments yielded an incredibly versatile technique I keep coming back to:
    Take any mode, transpose it down a 4th, 3 times for 4 total modes, for example, then write chords within those available notes.
    You end up with 4 chords all in their unique keys, here’s an example I instantly whipped together:

    The chords I chose: A Dorian, B Aeolian, D Lydian, G# Locrian.
    Which is parallel to: A Dorian, A Mixolyd, A Ionian, A Lydian
    Initially taken from: A Dorian, E Dorian, B Dorian, F# Dorian

    This is with 4ths, overal my favorite and the smoothest alongside 5ths, but try minor thirds, for example.
    Also don’t have to start the cycle on the first chord in the cycle, you can offset it, you can even do both: 1, 5, 2, 6, repeat, 2, 6, 1, 5, repeat etc., the sky is the limit, all the crazy ways to work with cycle chord progressions translate to this, and you can just keep changing up the chords within the cycle.

    I can provide examples if anyone wants!
    Seriously, give this a try, it’s so simple when you’ve done it once, do it in midi to get used to it.

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  9. Your talent for clear teaching is unmatched.
    Thank you I had a dawning realisation after this and felt stupid it was staring me in the face 😂
    I’m a huge fan of John Carpenter now I get why in Halloween he modulates from F# to Bm.
    Thank you David 🖖🙏🤟

  10. When moving through the sharp keys, I simply remember I always need to add the leading tone for the new key, which involves sharping the seventh degree, which is also really useful for tonicizing the new key. For the flat keys it’s the same logic but flattening the 4th for the new key, which is a little less intuitive.

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  11. I love whenever he’s like “if you do X, things will sound disjointed and confusing” and then goes on to say “take for example this deep cut by Radiohead”.

  12. I’ve been doing a podcast on Nirvana. We just did the first episode, on their album Bleach. The most well known song off there is “About a Girl.” The verse of that song is in E minor/G major. The chorus is in D flat major. Looking at the circle of fifths, that’s as far away as you can get. And yet somehow it doesn’t sound jarring even though there are no transition chords. It just jumps straight from one key to the other like a magic trick. I’m wondering if there;s something in the melody that makes it work so well.

  13. The circle of fifths is always feared at the beginning…. I really like the way you described it. It’s really easy to follow!
    It’s also nice to see the relation between chords and the circle. It’s a really fast way to build the circle in your head if you don’t remember it.
    So, each chord has the fifth. If you know notes of C Major – C E G, then since G is the fifth you know the the next letter on the circle is G. Than G major – G B D, D is the fifth so D is the next letter. etc.
    If you don’t know the notes of each chord, you can also try to visualise your hand on the piano (the way you play the chord) and try to find notes that way.

  14. 3:23 More relations between keys can be shown using a Tonnetz. This expands on the line of fifths. Here, the circle of fifths doesn’t help.

  15. This is the video I’ve been looking for. Ever since I found the circle of fifths as a concept and began talking about it with my bandmates I’ve been feeling kind of hollow. Everyone talks of this circle as the ‘one ultimate tool for musicians’ and then the video devolves into ‘music theory for preschoolers’-level of explaining stuff you really, really don’t need the circle of fifths for. This video, however, finally showed me why the circle is useful.

  16. The secret to smoothly jumping directly across the circle of 5ths in a chord progression is to use a half diminished chord. This is especially true if you’ve just been working your way ccw around it. Example, in C-major… coming from G-C-F, next would be Bb but that root isn’t diatonic (making it a good opportunity to go elsewhere). Jumping straight across from F to Bm7b5, we get a diatonic chord with two notes from F (the previous chord) and two from Bb (the chord expected)… that’s ready to move on from.

  17. Can’t thank you enough for this incredibly helpful lesson, David. Best explanation of the circle of fifths and it’s use that I’ve ever encountered. Bravo!👏

  18. Dave I have been watching you progress over the years, Thank you for your contribution to the arts. Bravo.

  19. Great stuff, as usual! Another way to look at the circle of fifths and modes can tell you all the modes with the same key signature, in order of brightest to darkest. Using C Ionian as our example again, move one step counter-clockwise to F which corresponds to going brighter (F Lydian). Then move clockwise from C and you get all the other modes in order of darkness: G Mixolydian, D Dorian, A Aeolian, E Phrygian, and B Locrian. And, like everything in the circle of fifths, this same pattern works no matter which key you start on. Thanks, David!

  20. When you record the segments of the songs for your examples, do you record the entire song? By the way they’re really good thank you.

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