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Thread: Tuned in Fifths

  1. #26
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    We just apply, or divide up/extract what we want/need from guitar, it's all cool. Only that - do know - it's ALL connected/relational, without real limits.
    ^^^ this
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  2. #27
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    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Gentlemen, I plan to print this and keep it with me for "digesting"; my Son teases me about seeing everything theoretically and by using the Nashville numbering system, as he is way more talented than me and just intuitively knows where to go and when (I've accepted this fact due to his younger age and more nimble mind, and partly because, just like he can never shoot a basketball like me or throw a football like me, he's just more talented than me musically).
    Even though this is the case, I delve into music theory a lot...………………….. why does the whole Circle of Fifth's seem to me like freakin' Organic Chemistry.

    I'll study it, thanks again to all who responded, come to North Florida I'll take you fishing.

  3. #28
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    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    There was a discussion recently here about this. There is an almost magical point where music theory and making it work come together. Once it's digested a bit, a whole lot of stuff comes together when you're playing, especially with other people and on tunes you don't know.

    Here's a link (I hope) to that thread:https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/s...ghlight=circle

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  5. #29

    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    The circle of fifths is fundamental to western music because the scale notes are generated by that circle. It is tied to the physics and math that generated the tone.

    It also created the voice leading as chords follow the circle creating tension and resolution. Possibly a majority of jazz and ragtime songs have a circle of fifths as part of the chord progression. Salty Dog, Don't Let Your Deal Go Down, Cannonball Rag, Sweet Georgia Brown, Ella Speed, Dear Old Dixie, Electric Chair Blues just to start. Listen to a few of those and you will start to hear what the circle sounds like.

  6. #30
    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Garber View Post
    Fine then why are the uke family instruments which are much shorter scale tuned 4th-3rd-4th similar to the top 4 strings of a guitar?
    The uke is a little guitar, originally out of Portugal. So tuned the same. (In fact, the uke is the top four strings of the guitar from the fifith fret).
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  7. #31
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheephead Shawn View Post
    ……….. why does the whole Circle of Fifth's seem to me like freakin' Organic Chemistry.
    .......
    Shawn,
    Things that made Circle of Fifths become more like a useful reality for me was learning the chord progressions for some of those old songs like:
    "Five Foot Two, Eyes of Blue" and "Mr Sandman". Maybe you have heard those songs sometime.

    You can play those songs by rote memory of many many chords, OR by remembering something like "jump from the 1 to the 3, and then follow the circle" Points of importance in many of those type songs also include the fact that the 1 chord often jumps to the 6 chord at some points in similar songs.

    Next thing that may help remembering the "Circle" is seeing that if you use the same shape for each major chord you play (e.g.chop chord shape), play first chord on treble side (e.g. Bmaj), then simply move to its '4' chord,( same shape moved to the next larger courses of strings on same frets.)

    Then move 2 frets closer to the nut and repeat the process. Repeat this as long as you want to continue around the 'Circle'.
    When you get to the nut, of course, you have to notice what chord you're playing so you can jump one octave higher on the neck to continue with the next chord.

    I know that might sound a little confusing, but read it carefully and give it a try. It might help a lot.
    Phil

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  8. #32

    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Thank you for the best explanation I've ever seen on this topic. I've played guitar for years, and assumed it was just for people who read sheet music to tell the key by number of sharps etc. It is amazing how much using guitar tab exclusively has held me back from learning music theory.

  9. #33
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Quote Originally Posted by Sheephead Shawn View Post
    Gentlemen, I plan to print this and keep it with me for "digesting"; my Son teases me about seeing everything theoretically and by using the Nashville numbering system, as he is way more talented than me and just intuitively knows where to go and when (I've accepted this fact due to his younger age and more nimble mind, and partly because, just like he can never shoot a basketball like me or throw a football like me, he's just more talented than me musically).
    Even though this is the case, I delve into music theory a lot...………………….. why does the whole Circle of Fifth's seem to me like freakin' Organic Chemistry.

    I'll study it, thanks again to all who responded, come to North Florida I'll take you fishing.
    Ill go fishing with you.

    The step I took is less intellectual. I learned chord shaped in groups of three. So I have a I IV V chord shape group. It is movable up the neck, and because it is a three finger chord it is movable across the neck. And what ever key things are in, I find where to place my I chord shape and just go to town, getting most of what I need. I have since figured out where most of the other chords i will need are in relation to the I chord shape, the 7ths, the minors etc., but it started not with memorizing the fret board, or memorizing the circle, or memorizing the Nashville number system, (which are all helpful and good ideas) but with finding three chord shapes I could switch between easily and move around to any key. I just wanted to cut to the chase and start playing.

    I have since filled in a lot of the gaps, and through habit I can remember what I need to remember. But I didn't go after it like high school math homework.

    The weakness of my approach is that I sometimes (used to be most of the time) don't know what key I am playing in. I mean the chords work where ever I start, and I start where it sounds good, and I am playing away, and did not stop to figure out or hear what key I am playing in. Not good.

    But it is impossible to get started without missing something. Trying to get it all right leads to paralysis and looking around for the right way to learn is not the same as learning something and getting onnn-n-n-n with it.
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  10. #34
    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Smile Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    as you go around that circle you # another note in the scale..

    conveniently G 1#, D 2#, A3#, E 4# so when confronted with a songbook

    1- 4# tells you what Maj key it may be ...

    backwards # sequence of BEAD Go Catch Fish..
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  11. #35
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    There are some remarkable videos out there explaining this stuff. One way that made sense to me was in not using the circle at all, but 'working it out' by making a chart. (Sort of like making a multiplication table. )

    But after frying my brain for a while I still had to pick up the mandolin and make it work.




    Philphool has a good method there. Thanks Phil
    Last edited by DougC; Feb-03-2019 at 6:08pm. Reason: gone fishing

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  13. #36
    Registered User Kevin Stueve's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Quote Originally Posted by mandroid View Post
    as you go around that circle you # another note in the scale..

    conveniently G 1#, D 2#, A3#, E 4# so when confronted with a songbook

    1- 4# tells you what Maj key it may be ...

    backwards # sequence of BEAD Go Catch Fish..
    coming from trombone background I learned BEADGCF before I learned that as 4ths and before I learned FCGDAEB as fifths. BEADGCF is the order notes are flatted in
    Key of F Bflat
    Key of Bb -- Bb and Eb
    Key of Eb --Bb, Eb, Ab
    Key of Ab -- Bb, Eb, Ab, Db

    etc.
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  14. #37

    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Good point about fifths giving more range. The six open strings of a guitar only cover three half steps more than the four open strings of the mandolin.

  15. #38
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Here's a little pattern I made to help illustrate the pattern I described in post #31.
    Not great, but it's kind of what I'm seeing in my brain as I play parts of the Circle.

    E.g. start with B, go to E, go to A, etc.......

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	circle of 5 Pattern - mando.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	5.6 KB 
ID:	174589

    Remember, this is using the SAME SHAPED CHORDS in all cases. And, of course, works starting at ANY fret.
    Phil

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  16. #39
    Registered User DougC's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Quote Originally Posted by Philphool View Post
    Here's a little pattern I made to help illustrate the pattern I described in post #31.
    Not great, but it's kind of what I'm seeing in my brain as I play parts of the Circle.

    E.g. start with B, go to E, go to A, etc.......

    Click image for larger version. 

Name:	circle of 5 Pattern - mando.jpg 
Views:	11 
Size:	5.6 KB 
ID:	174589

    Remember, this is using the SAME SHAPED CHORDS in all cases. And, of course, works starting at ANY fret.

    Good 'landmarks' to know. And there are position markers there! Mine are mother of pearl. Stating the obvious? (Nope, I'm pretty dense.)


    Some people write the circle of 5ths backwards. So clockwise one sees the flat keys. It can be very handy that way. (It is all a matter of relationships in any case). Our trombone playing friend knows this. Right, Kevin?
    I'll try to find one online...
    Last edited by DougC; Feb-04-2019 at 12:18pm.

  17. #40
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    The goal is not to 'write' the circle in a certain direction. The goal is to internalize the notes (chords) where they lie on the fingerboard.
    To see them mentally whenever you need them and then just go to them without resorting to recalling the letters written around some Circle.
    How to do this? USE THEM!!! Choose tunes or songs which use C of 5ths chord progressions and play them. Soon you won't need to think about 'circles'.
    Phil

    “Sharps/Flats” ≠ “Accidentals”

  18. #41
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    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    (Sigh)

    This kind of talk only serves to further confuse the beginner.

    ALL chord shapes are movable - on guitar, mndln, or any other stringed instrument.

    So called "open"/cowboy chords are merely lower position chord forms with the nut taking the place of a "barring" finger, usually taking advantage of a couple of open strings. It's as movable as any other chord form.

    "as movable as ..." -- when we speak of scale and chord forms as moveable we usually refer to the fingering, i.e., forms that can be transposed to higher positions *without change of fingering*. And, of course, many people (I among them) would have trouble fingering, e.g., the cowboy G form cleanly in higher keys. But then we don't really need it.

  19. #42

    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    "as movable as ..." -- when we speak of scale and chord forms as moveable we usually refer to the fingering, i.e., forms that can be transposed to higher positions *without change of fingering*. And, of course, many people (I among them) would have trouble fingering, e.g., the cowboy G form cleanly in higher keys. But then we don't really need it.
    Made a short vid for you:




    A big problem in guitar (and theoretical/technical) pedagogy is the casual "folk" approach to the instrument, that unfortunately is very popular and probably how 99% of guitar aspirers begin. It does a monumental disservice to anyone aspiring to learn the instrument (in other idioms beyond folk-styles), as I've alluded in the preceding posts.

    In other words, from the standpoint of a thorough or complete understanding of the instrument - to be able to apply theoretical/technical concepts to the instrument - the common basis of chordal conceptualization with "open/cowboy" chords is all wrong.
    Last edited by catmandu2; Feb-25-2019 at 12:00pm.

  20. #43

    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    I came back to this thread today because I was thinking about this topic and BOOM, my understanding went up a couple of levels. I've searched the net to select a circle of fifths, printed out copies and will be attaching them to my case, the book I'm working in, etc.

    I'm just a couple weeks into learning mandolin and the epiphany I had today, by virtue of the kind posters in this thread, will be having baby epiphanies for some time to come.

  21. #44

    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Ha, as I read this I see I must have felt strongly about it this morning

    It's just a different perspective - I'm not knocking "idiomatic"/folk guitar or anything. It's just that so often people aren't exposed to approaches on guitar that enable the tools to understand or exploit more of the instrument, as I've heard folks state on innumerable occasion.

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  23. #45
    Registered User Mandobart's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Quote Originally Posted by CarlM View Post
    I believe the reason the string bass and guitar are tuned in fourths and the others in fifths is scale length. If a bass were tuned in fifths it would be an immensely long distance to move up and down one string before you reached the next making playing difficult. Guitar fourth tuning leaves about a normal hand span to the next string just as a mandolin does with fifths tuning. The fourths tuning does make it easier to assign one finger per fret when playing scales though.
    Then how do you 'splain a 22" OM or 26" mandocello tuned in fifths? The "immensely long distance" is very manageable with the right technique.

  24. #46
    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Quote Originally Posted by catmandu2 View Post
    Ha, as I read this I see I must have felt strongly about it this morning

    It's just a different perspective - I'm not knocking "idiomatic"/folk guitar or anything. It's just that so often people aren't exposed to approaches on guitar that enable the tools to understand or exploit more of the instrument, as I've heard folks state on innumerable occasion.


    Thanks for the clarification! Loved your quick "show & tell" video, and understood your point and your frustration, but "big problem" and "all wrong" ... ??? Feeling strongly, for sure!

    It's probably how 99% of us began, and it was just a beginning, LOL. I learned painstakingly to change on time between three chords to play "On Top Of Old Smokey" at age twelve, and no regrets. Got to start somewhere.
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  26. #47
    mandolin slinger Steve Ostrander's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Years ago, before web sites had key transposers, I had an actual circle of fifths that I used for transposing. It had a circle within a circle that you turned to transpose. I suggest taking a look at it, it may make things clearer to see them in graphic form.
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  27. #48

    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post


    Thanks for the clarification! Loved your quick "show & tell" video, and understood your point and your frustration, but "big problem" and "all wrong" ... ??? Feeling strongly, for sure!
    Well, THAT part of it, I DO indeed feel so - big impediment, and all wrong (for styles other than folk, etc). Talking pedagogy here. (For the record, it's not how classical pedagogy is typically undertaken). I would hazard that perhaps 90% of folks with a guitar don't know how those "folk/cowboy" chords interrelate with the rest of the fingerboard. And likely don't move past those few chords. We hear it all the time. This is a problem in pedagogy.

    It was the wording I chose about "being able to apply technical/theoretical concepts" that I felt was unnecessarily strong. Indeed, one needn't neccesarily possess a meta perspective to apply technique and theory, probably..
    Last edited by catmandu2; Feb-26-2019 at 2:35pm.

  28. #49

    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    This kind of stuff always makes my head hurt. How can anybody think about numbers and math and counting while they play? I guess that is why I'm just mediocre.

  29. #50
    Phil Goodson Philphool's Avatar
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    Default Re: Tuned in Fifth's

    Quote Originally Posted by sbhikes View Post
    This kind of stuff always makes my head hurt. How can anybody think about numbers and math and counting while they play? I guess that is why I'm just mediocre.
    Well... maybe.
    But it's more likely that it's from not putting enough time and effort into practicing the RIGHT things. At least that's what I'm claiming as my excuse.

    (It's really not that hard to 'be aware' that you're changing from the "one chord" to the "four chord", etc. or to just keep a steady rhythm. Not a lot of mathematics involved.)
    Phil

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