Circle Of 5ths

Circle Of 5ths 

The first question I ask a new student is “ What is the circle of 5ths and why is important?”

Most students, no matter how long they have taken lessons, do not answer correctly!

The most common misconception is that the circle of 5ths describes the order of the major scales.  For example, C major has zero sharps and zero flats, and by going up a 5th to a “G” major scale this gives us the scale with 1 sharp.  Similarly , if we go up another interval of a 5th we get the D major scale which has 2 sharps in it.  This is a “ cute trick” to remember the number of sharps in a particular scale but has absolutely nothing to do with the “ True Circle Of 5ths”.

The True Circle of 5ths describes chord movement downward by 5th.  The chords in 80 -95%  of all Western Civilization Music move downward by 5th.  This concept is so powerful, that if I only had 1 lesson to teach you, the concept of the circle of 5ths would be my top priority.  Yet, most classical piano teachers don’t know this concept and therefore don’t teach it to their students.  You can’t teach what you don’t know.

I was fortunate enough to study with a jazz teach who did know this concept and it’s importance.  Now I make a living playing and teaching piano, not because of my traditional lessons , which I quite 3 times between age 6 and 16 because I wasn’t getting Beatles, Boogie Woogie, Blues etc.., but because of my jazz teachers, Alan Swain and Tony Caramia.

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Harmonic Patterns