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Circle of Fifths

As we talk about the circle of fifths what you learn will apply to the scales and chords of all the major scales.

The circle of 5ths is a good way to learn and remember your music keys with all their flats and sharps in them in an organized way.

I think using the 5th’s circle is good for the remembering sharp keys and the 4th’s circle is good for remembering the flat keys. Just another way to learn them.

This circle is similar to the circle of 4ths. It is actually the reverse order of the circle of 4ths.

You may find this circle easier to understand with the tetrachords than the circle of 4ths page.

The link below will open the circle of 4ths page so you can look at both pages

Circle of 4ths (Opens New Window)

If you are reading this page you should know about music intervals the link below will open a new window so you can go back and forth if you need to.

Music Intervals (Opens New Window)

In music the V to I chord is a common move. The V chord wants to move to the I, this is the 3rd in the V chord that does this. it wants to resolve or go home.

I to V Chord Movement – Major

You will find the I chord to the V chord common 5th move. Some songs are based on this move. The Beatles song I Should Have Known Better is basically a I – V7 move.

Another Beatles song is Nowhere Man. This song starts with an E to B chord change or a I to V.

i to V Chord Movement – Minor

A Minor One-Five(i-V7) move is a common 5th movement in the harmonic and melodic minor scales.

These V-I moves are also called cadences. This is a fancy word for getting back to the beginning of the verse.

Circle of Fifths Image

This image is similar to the one I made for the major scales page to explain tetrachords.

Just add the two tetrachord sections(large numbers at center) to make a scale. I think this is easier to understand than the circle of 4ths because you are reading forward.

To read the circle of 4ths you are reading the scales in backwards way, you have to move the 1st tetrachord in front of the 2nd one to read it right.

Only add sharp to sharp or flat to flat tetrachords in sections 7,8 and 9. These are keys that are the same pitch but written differently.

Following the Fifths

When following the fifths you need to go back to your 1st chord and not forward.

In other words if you move from C to G this is a 5th forward, C-D-E-F-G If you went forward again from the G chord it would be a 4th, G-A-B-C.

You would still play the same chord but thinking this way is less confusing for chords than following the 5ths.

If you move back you are going down a 5th G-F-E-D-C. You are still going to C but it can cause confusion sometimes as to whether you are moving four or five notes.

The 4ths circle starting with C will take you thru the keys starting with the flat keys.

The circle of fifths isn’t used as much as the 4ths but it is very important for the V-I relationship. The V chord wants to move to the I chord.

Inverting 5th Intervals

If you read the interval section you will remember that when you invert a 4th it becomes a 5th and when you invert a 5th it becomes a 4th.

Inverting means you move the bass note up one octave so C to G(5th) becomes G to C(4th) and C to F(4th) becomes F to C(5th).

Circle of Fifths – Major Chords



The Bottom Line – Circle of Fifths

The main thing is to know all your I, IV and V chords in every key. These are all major chords and the chord table up above is all of the chords.

Here is a list of the I IV V chords in all the Keys

Key

I Chords

IV Chords

V Chords

G♭ and F♯ are the same pitch just written different.

Every major chord is in three keys. The root key and the other two keys it came from.

The C scale came from the F and G scales. Both these scales have a C chord in them along with the C scale.

Minor chords are also in 3 scales not counting the harmonic or melodic minor scales. They are in the ii, iii, and vi positions of the major scale.

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Altered Chords – Altered 5 9 and 11 Guitar Chords

Regular chords become altered chords when the 5th, 9th or 11th note is altered. Some of the names can be confusing but it’s really pretty simple. An easy way to remember the 9th is that a flatted 9th is one note higher than the root of the chord. A raised 9th also a minor 3rd(same note) is 3 notes higher than the root.

These chords can be major, minor or dominant chords like G7♭5. A 9th chord always has a 7th in it, don’t confuse this with the “add 9” you may see on some chords.

Some of our symmetrical and modal scales can be used for improvising over these chords.

The only notes that can be altered are the 5th, 9th and the 11th

The 2 and the 9 are the same note one octave apart, the same for the 4 and 11.

The 2 and 4 don’t get altered but they can act as the 9 or 11 in some chord configurations where the 9 or 11 are too far away to be used in a practical chord form.

The 6 and the 13 are the same too but these notes can’t be altered, only 5, 9 and 11.

The 5th can be lowered 1/2 tone or raised 1/2 tone or both can be in the same chord.

The 9th can be lowered or raised 1/2 tone and can be combined with an altered 5th or 11th.

The 11th can only be raised 1/2 tone, It can’t be lowered because it would become a major 3rd.

Also the 11 and 4 are the same note one octave apart. This note gives that suspended 4th sound that wants to resolve.

A raised 11th is also a lowered 5th note one octave apart.

Remember in chord building theory for guitar octaves don’t count except for our ears. Any octave will have the same effect on the chord.

The magic number for finding the same notes is 7. Add 7 to 2 you get a 9, subtract 7 from 9 you get a 2. This works for all the other numbers.

Chord Confused?

If you need help understanding chords and scales these pages will help.

  • Music Intervals
  • Basic Triad Chords
  • Major Scale Primer
  • Guitar Chord Theory

Major Scale Number System

C

D

E

F

G

A

B

C

D

E

F

G

A

B

C

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

Altered 5th Chords

The 5th of a chord can be lowered or raised.

A C chord C-E-G would become a C flat 5 C-E-G♭

A C chord C-E-G would become a C aug C -E-G♯

Notice that a chord that says aug or augmented after its letter name always refers to the 5th of the chord unless a number comes after the aug or augmented.

Chord Symbols

Other symbols used are the plus (+) sign(C+5) and the sharp (♯) sign(C♯5) for augmented or raised notes.

Don’t confuse the add with the + sign. The add means to add a note(C add 9) not raise it a half tone like the + sign.

The minus sign(-) is used sometimes for flatted notes(C7-5). It makes the chord symbol shorter and easier to fit in written music.

Flatted 5th – Augmented 5th
Altered Chords

In the second C♭5 above you have to arch your first finger slightly so the 4 and 2 strings are muted.

7th and 9th Chords
Altered Dominant Chords

The 7th chord is a dominant chord built from the 5th note of the major scale.

Don’t confuse this with a major 7th chord, this 7th is 1/2 step higher.

In the key of C the chord would be a G. The dominant chords start with the 7th chord.

The first chord is a G. G-B-D.

The next chord is a G7. G-B-D-F.

The next chord is a G9 G-B-D-F-A.

Dominant 7th Altered Chords

The 7th can have one or more of the following alterations.

A flat 5, sharp 5 or both.

A flat 9, sharp 9.

A sharp 11 which is equal to a flat 5.

Jazzers Info

Unless you play Jazz you most likely won’t run into the 11th or 13th alterations.

However understanding this process will help your understanding of chord symbols in other areas.

Flatted 5th – Altered Chords

The only song I can think of that uses the flat 5 so you will recognize it is Led Zepplins’ Dancing Days written by Jimmy Page and Robert Plant.

This isn’t a true flat 5 because there is no 3rd until the last beat.

You go back and forth on the first two chords, actually notes and end on the last.

You will have to use some palm muting so the chords ring out the right length of time.

Here are links to the mp3 and sheet music.

Dancing Days mp3 Dancing Days Sheet Music (Opens New Window)

Augmented 5th – Altered Chords

An augmented chord usually but not always comes after an unaltered form of the same chord. When used like this it is leading you into another chord usually with a note in it 1/2 tone higher than the raised 5th.

Here is a common progression you will see in a lot of songs.

See how the 5th of the C chord moves up 1/2 tone at a time.

See how the name of the chords change.

The A minor could be called a C6 although there would be no 5th in it.

The C7 would most likely lead to some form of an F chord.

The Beatles song Oh Darling starts with an augmented chord.

Altered 9th Chords

Flatted 9th Chords

The flatted 9th chords will be written as a 7th chord like C7-9 or C7♭9.

You can think of the flatted 9th note as a raised root. This note will always be 1/2 tone above the root note of the chord it in.

These chords are the beginning of The Beatles song I Want You(She’s So Heavy) from the Abbey Road Album

All the picking is on the 1st 4 strings, no 5th string notes even though they are in the chord.

Here is a link to the CD because you can’t download individual Beatles songs in mp3.

Abbey Road CD I Want You – Sheet Music (Opens New Window)

Augmented 9th – Altered Chords

This chord is a popular altered chord. I’ve heard this refered to as the Jimi Hendrix chord.

He uses this chord in Stone Free.

It can also be used with the flat 9 as a substitute chord sequence like E7+9, E7-9 to E7. this is good if you have a couple of bars of E7 in a row to spice it up.

P.S. Don’t get in the way of the melody or a solo. Play around until you can make it fit or wait for another song if it doesn’t work on the current one.

What makes this chord really unique is that a sharp 9 is also a flat 3 or a minor 3rd.

This means you can use minor scales and major scales freely for improvising with this chord.

You can use the E Mixolydian, E major and minor pentatonic, the E major and minor blues scales, the E Super Locrian mode, the F diminished scale and more.

The F Diminished isn’t an error, it’s sometimes easier to think 1/2 step above with this scale to get the notes for altered chords in the scale. This scale contains the major 3rd and the minor 3rd/augmented 9th.

Stone Free – Jimi Hendrix

Here are links to the mp3 and sheet music for this song.

Stone Free mp3 Stone Free – Sheet Music (Opens New Window)

Augmented 11th Chords
Altered Chords

This is the only alteration for this note. If it was lowered it would equal a major third which isn’t an altered tone.

What the difference between this and a 7th flat 5 chord is that it has a 9 in it.

I don’t know of a popular song that has this chord in it that you would recognize offhand.

If I come across one I’ll put it up but this chord has a unique sound to it. Here are a couple diagrams.

These are dominant chords putting you in the key of A. E is the 5th and dominant note of the A scale.

The T for the fingering means thumb. Wrap your thumb over the neck to play these two notes on strings 5 and 6.

Dominant 13th♭9 Chords
Altered Chords

The 2nd chord image has no root, follow it by the 3rd on the 4th string. think E-3 =’s C.

When we get a lot of notes in a chord we leave out tone to play the ones that are wanted. The bass player will play the root or it will sound implied. In other words the listener thinks they hear the root it because of what was played before this chord. You have already set the stage.

Dominant 7th♯5♯9 Chords
Combined Altered Chords

These chords could be used to replace a C7 for a couple of beats to spice up the progression.

Dominant 7th ♭5 ♭9
Combined Altered Chords

There is no root for the 2nd and 3rd chords so you must remember them in a different way.

The 2nd chord has its 3rd on the 2nd string. Think back two whole tones to C.

The 2nd chord has its 3rd on the 3rd string. Think back two whole tones to C.

E will always be the 3rd of any C major, augmented or dominant chord.

This is one way. You might choose one of the other notes to reference by but I find the 3rd a good way because it doesn’t ever change unless a chord doesn’t have one.

Dominant 7th ♯5 ♭9
Combined Altered Chords

Like the chords above the 2nd and 3rd image have no root.

Sometimes a chord diagram will tell you no root with a NR after the chord name. Most of the time they don’t unless it’s a lesson.

The 3rd for the 2nd image is on the 4th string. Think E-3 =’s C

The 3rd for the 3rd image is on the 2nd string.

Dominant 7th ♭5 ♯9
Combined Altered Chords

I told you about chords that have a sharp and flat 5 in the same chord here are a couple examples.

Dominant 7th ♭5 ♯5
Combined Altered Chords

This chord may also be called a C7♭5♭13 because a sharp 5 is equal to a flatted 13 which is equal to a 6th but one octave higher.

There are more but these are the most common.

You don’t have to play Jazz to take advantage of this theory. The individual notes from these chords can be used in improvising in any style of music if played at the right time and tempo.

I hope you found this page useful.

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Download MusicDiscover How Easy

Discover how you can download music and pick out songs that you like from a music album without buying the whole thing or maybe you want the whole thing.

Did you ruin your albums when you were younger playing them on a turntable with a bad needle. Ever put pennies on the head of the turntable arm to try to stop it from skipping? Ah the good old days.

Downloading music online is easy. You don’t need to know any special computer skills.

If you never bought music online you are missing out on one of the things computers are really useful for.

If you like guitar music the internet is a great place for finding specific songs without going from store to store, also for independant artists that don’t have their Cd’s in stores.

1) Find songs from the past that bring back good memories.

2) Find a song by the name or the lyrics.

3) You can pick any music style from Classical to Jazz.

4) Download one song or the whole album.

5) Legal song downloads cost under $1.00 dollar.

6) Most album downloads are under $10.00.

7) No high speed broadband internet connection.

The first 2 reasons from up above are what got me downloading music on the internet. Did you ever hear a song on the radio you really liked but could never catch the name of it or the artists name?

The Gin Blossoms song Found Out About You was one I found with the lyrics. I never knew there was a group named Gin Blossoms until I did a search for “found out about you”. Nice Song.

Music Download Types

There are 2 main types of audio files. One type is for CD’s and the other is for downloads.

There are tons of audio file names but these are for the individual audio players. The codecs or translating software are pretty much the same.

CD’s used to be .wav format and might still be but when I make a CD on my computer it comes out as .cda. i don’t know if this is the new .wav or just an addition. But they doesn’t matter for our purposes.

The other format is for downloading audio files and there is only one that has the top position and that’s mp3. This format gives the best quality for the smallest file size and this is the format most music downloads will be in.

Most audio software installed on computers can play these files you although might have to list it in the options or preference section of your audio software.

mp3 Download Music – Amazon

A lot of the other sites want you to join and charge you monthly. Here I can come and go, I might not want to download anything for month or two so why waste money.

Tribute Albums Alert

One thing to look for when you download from sites is there are a lot of tribute albums, other people playing your artists songs.

This usually happens with the biggies like the Who or The Beatles. Just double check the artist name before you buy

mp3-Downloads (Opens New Window)

No Beatle mp3 Downloads

The Beatles don’t have their music in an mp3 format for some reason. You can only buy their CD’s.

The Beatles are the group that got me playing guitar so they are my number 1 group of all time.

They have quite a few albums to choose from along with some greatest hits too.

Beatles Albums (Opens New Window)

Buying CD’s

Some people aren’t into all the download music and just want a CD to listen to.

Some albums are meant to be listened to as a whole song even though they are separate songs. “Tommy” from “The Who” was like this.

If this is the way you like to enjoy music the internet has any CD that you want just type in the artist and all their albums will come up or type in a CD title and that will come up.

Find your favorite.

Music CD’s (Opens New Window)

Thank You for Visiting Our Download Music Page.

I hope you found this page useful.