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Thread: "Playing the circle of fifths"

  1. #26
    but that's just me Bertram Henze's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Remembering the Theory that all of today's music is using just one chord progression...
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  3. #27

    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Quote Originally Posted by mmuussiiccaall View Post
    O.K. Jim tell me another song with the chord progression of HEY JOE.
    I did – Hush.

    I used Hey Joe as an example because it's the longest string of continuous "IV-of-the-IV-of-the..." that I could think of – five of 'em. Would you call Parker's "Blues for Alice", which has seven "V-of-the-V-of-the..." an anomaly, unsuitable for illustrating jazz's use of the circle of fifths?

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    Registered User belbein's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Jazzometry is brilliant. Cool insights. Cool video.

    But … what do you use it for? Or to go back to my initial question--which I think I'm allowed to do since I'm the OP--can you "play the Jazzometry"?
    belbein

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    formerly Philphool Phil Goodson's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Quote Originally Posted by belbein View Post
    I know what the circle of fifths is, and I thought I knew what it was "for." ...."playing the circle of fifths" or "identifying the circle of fifths" in various bits of music ...Is this a common usage?
    Try some of the older songs: Mr Sandman, Who's Sorry Now?, All of Me; Five foot two, Eyes of Blue: almost completely made up of 'following the Circle'.
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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Quote Originally Posted by belbein View Post
    Jazzometry is brilliant. Cool insights. Cool video.

    But … what do you use it for? Or to go back to my initial question--which I think I'm allowed to do since I'm the OP--can you "play the Jazzometry"?
    That was my initial question when I watched that beautiful and fascinating video. I guess it’s not surprising that you can depict a regular and circular pattern (the sequence of notes in the major scale) in all kinds of geometric patterns. It’s way cool, but does the 3D diagram give you any insights that the circle doesn’t? That’s a real question, not a rhetorical one.

  7. #31
    Registered User belbein's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    I am a bit of a student of graphic representations of data. The thing about graphic representations is that they are always lies: they're both too general/oversimplified, and too specifically detailed. So, for example, that old solar-system style representation of an atom and electrons: It was a perfect representation of an atom and electrons for me in 7th grade. For Neils Bohr it would be hideously oversimplified. For someone wanting to understand quarks: fuggetaboudit.

    That's all preface to say that the Jazzometry model is, to me, over complicated and not useful, even though I appreciate the beauty of the model and the presentation. But I'm not a musicologist or a jazz musician. For Mr. Jazzometry, it might be exactly what he needs at his very high level of understanding. I'd love to have him explain how he actually uses it. But then on the other hand, I probably wouldn't understand his explanation any more than Neils Bohr's.
    belbein

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  9. #32

    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Even a model as simple as the Circle of Fifths can be misrepresentative, and confusing if you're trying to understand what's the deal with keys.

    If I'm explaining keys to someone who's hearing it for the first time, I draw a number line, with C as zero, the sharp keys as positive numbers and the flat keys as negative numbers.
    The explanation of why F# and Gb share the same point in the Circle of Fifths (and the same black piece of ebony on a piano) is a whole 'nother level.

  10. #33
    Innocent Bystander JeffD's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    There is this very useful book. The book cover is a moving wheel chart, which is also really useful.

    And of course it looks cool hanging around your music room.


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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    With closed position chords. and closed scales like from FFcP, and understanding the circle of fifths - you can contribute something in any key. Sure there is a lot more to learn, but that is enough to have a lot of fun, and rarely appear to be struggling.
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    coprolite mandroid's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    "I thought .. a circle of fifths was a bunch of guys sitting around drinking whiskey"

    Did that in Scotland .. step 1) you toss the cork in the fireplace .. Peat fired optional..

    the other one: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Circle_of_fifths
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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Educate your mind and your ear will follow along with it. It’s only 12 keys, C on top, Gb on the bottom, so now you only have 10 more! Should take 15 minutes to learn. The downside is that, if you educate your ear, you might start wanting to listen jazz.

    Among the many tunes that use a lot circle of 4th progressions, All the Things You Are stands out. It’s a good one to get that sound in your head.

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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Here it is:

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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    In addition to lots of songs moving in fifths (or fourths), I find practicing scales in the like in the order of the circle to be useful.

    Also there are interesting historical reasons why we have some of the names we do. There also are different names used in different genres. My introduction to theory was from the classical world. When I started learning jazz theory I ran across things like half diminishes seventh chords. How in the world I knew how could a chord be half diminished? I still think of them as minor seven flat five chords which is at least more descriptive.

  18. #39

    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Quote Originally Posted by Nevin View Post
    My introduction to theory was from the classical world. When I started learning jazz theory I ran across things like half diminishes seventh chords. How in the world I knew how could a chord be half diminished? I still think of them as minor seven flat five chords which is at least more descriptive.
    That is interesting, as classical theory calls them "half-diminished seventh" and jazz calls them "minor7 flat5". "Half-diminished" is a perfect description: the fifth is diminished and the seventh isn't. That is only half as diminished as a full-diminished 7th, which has a diminished fifth AND a diminished seventh. "Minor7 flat5" is more convoluted, as you first have a minor7 chord, which implies a perfect fifth, then you flat the fifth.

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    The Amateur Mandolinist Mark Gunter's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Quote Originally Posted by David L View Post
    That is interesting, as classical theory calls them "half-diminished seventh" and jazz calls them "minor7 flat5". "Half-diminished" is a perfect description: the fifth is diminished and the seventh isn't. That is only half as diminished as a full-diminished 7th, which has a diminished fifth AND a diminished seventh. "Minor7 flat5" is more convoluted, as you first have a minor7 chord, which implies a perfect fifth, then you flat the fifth.
    I didn't see any real reason and chose not to comment on this discussion, but now that David has, just have to say I agree with his assessment. m7b5 is a convoluted way, but certainly a correct way, of naming that chord. 'Half diminished' vs. 'fully diminished' are not without their problems, either. The so-called "half diminished" chord is simply the diminished chord + dominant 7 (b7), being the diminished triad 1-b3-b5 which is a diminished chord, plus b7. The term "half diminished" makes a kind of sense, but still not a perfect description. The term "fully diminished" makes more sense, since it is spelled 1-b3-b5-bb7, where flatting a minor interval makes it a diminished interval.

    So, David's post has me splitting hairs and weighing in, probably against my better judgement, sorry.

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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    splitting hairs and ... thinking about such arcane stuff.
    It's what I do for a living.

    As the OP, let me thank everyone who weighed in. I feared that I would only get responses that explained in quantum detail the difference between true fifths, melodic fifths, Middle Earth fifths, and Klingon fifths--or told me I was just stupid--or explained if I'd learn my diminished 7th intervals in the Mixlodian modes I'd be smart enough to talk to. All of which is true, no doubt.

    But y'all did answer my question and it was an enlightening answer. So thank you, all.
    belbein

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  22. #42

    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Everyday by Buddy Holly has a chorus that has a really interesting progression, where each chord is the 4th of the previous chord, for 4 chords in a row. So, if you were playing it in D the chorus would go G, C, F, B flat, then A (the 5th of D).

  23. #43

    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Quote Originally Posted by Johnny60 View Post
    Everyday by Buddy Holly has a chorus that has a really interesting progression, where each chord is the 4th of the previous chord, for 4 chords in a row. So, if you were playing it in D the chorus would go G, C, F, B flat, then A (the 5th of D).
    While describing them as "each chord is the 4th of the previous chord," is accurate, what is important is this: Each chord is the 5th (dominant) of the next chord. That is the way the chords function. It is just another circle of fifths progression, except it is moving AWAY from the tonic. Most circle progressions move TOWARD the tonic.

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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Quote Originally Posted by Nevin View Post
    In addition to lots of songs moving in fifths (or fourths), I find practicing scales in the like in the order of the circle to be useful.

    Also there are interesting historical reasons why we have some of the names we do. There also are different names used in different genres. My introduction to theory was from the classical world. When I started learning jazz theory I ran across things like half diminishes seventh chords. How in the world I knew how could a chord be half diminished? I still think of them as minor seven flat five chords which is at least more descriptive.
    And how about the symbols for diminished and half-diminished chords, what is their origin? I speculate that the circle represents the completely symmetrical nature of the dimished 7 chord, and the circle with the line through it would then be self explanatory. I'm probably wrong.

  26. #45

    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Thanks to all the contributors. This is an interesting discussion.

    At some point, I actually worked my way through a few books to really understand how chords interact. Some of the more interesting ones were from Rikky Rooksby, like the Songwriting Sourcebook: How to Turn Chords into Great Songs. The various books were great learning experiences. "Oh! I can use the chord of the scale's flat seventh, instead of the chord of the expected natural seventh, to 'toughen up' a chord progression!" "Oh! He's right! Using that kind of suspension and progression *does* sound mysterious!"

    I'm always puzzled when people argue that someone might be better served by flailing than by actually knowing. As an example, I've heard people practice with a metronome and then loosening up once their timing is solid, but I've never heard someone eschew timing devices and then suddenly display rock solid timing. And the same goes for composition.

    If you have to guess about writing an effective sentence, then you can't consistently express yourself well. Music is the same thing.

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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Quote Originally Posted by David L View Post
    You don't really "play" the circle of fifths, but many songs use part of the circle. Even I - IV - V uses a small section of the circle. But when people talk about "circle of fifth" progressions they mean a string of secondary dominants, which goes around a longer section of the circle. This is done by jumping away and then following the circle back to the tonic. "Sweet Georgia Brown" is a prime example: it jumps to the VI chord, then II to V to I to get home.
    Good example. Circle of fifths progressions are also common in the bridge of an otherwise harmonically static AABA tune. There are basically two types of bridges:

    break out — circle back as in I Got Rhythm: in Bb: (…Bb) -D7 G7 C7 F7 (Bb …)
    circle out — break back: Topsy: in bbm: (…bbm)-Bb7-Eb7-Ab7-Db7-F7 (bbm…)

    Some like to think of these progressions as a series of modulations, but quite often the soloist by his choice of notes can oppose that impression, e.g., by superimposing the Bb scale
    over the whole progression, or using tritone substitutions : D7-Db7-C7-B7 — or something else.


    In a song like Fly Me To the Moon (C major, first 4 bars) the bass notes proceed by descending fifths, to be sure, but all the chord notes are within the C major scale: am7, dm7, G7, C. That’s a different effect altogether.

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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Gunter View Post
    "Music theory is for the amusement and entertainment of the musicologist; the musician has little use for it."

    If you're interested in music theory, I've been writing about it, and would be happy to get feedback on my writing: http://www.markgunter.net/search.php?searchStr=abc
    Theory is about reducing a multitude of facts to a few principles. Most musicians use theory without really having to think about it. As we do with grammar, at least in our native language.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rfloyd View Post
    Something about this thread leads me to post this who-knows-if-anybody-ever-said-it quote:

    A leading Nashville session player, when asked if he could read music, said - "Yeah, but not enough to hurt my playin'"

    Now that's funny, I don't care who ya are....
    Or maybe Louis Armstrong (who was an excellent reader).

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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Quote Originally Posted by lowtone2 View Post
    Educate your mind and your ear will follow along with it. It’s only 12 keys, C on top, Gb on the bottom, so now you only have 10 more! Should take 15 minutes to learn. The downside is that, if you educate your ear, you might start wanting to listen jazz.

    Among the many tunes that use a lot circle of 4th progressions, All the Things You Are stands out. It’s a good one to get that sound in your head.
    All the Things starts the same way as Fly me to the Moon, but in Ab: fm7, bbm7, Eb7-AbMaj. It's much more fruitful to analyze that tune in larger chunks, w r t keys:

    Bars 1-8: Ab - C
    9-16: Eb - G (the same as 1-8, melodically and harmonically, but a fourth lower)
    17-20: ii-V-I in G
    21-24: ii-V-I in E (same as 17-20, a minor third lower), C7
    with bars 25-36 firmly establishing the main key of Ab major.

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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    "Music theory" is a fairly scary label. To compare it to another process: I use math all the time to figure
    things out in life. There is "theory" intrinsic in math, if you choose to look at it that way. The theory doesn't
    add anything to my practical use of it. Same with music. I tell students we're learning "song structure"
    instead of music theory. Memorization of notes, chord arpeggios & how chord progressions move, will
    allow you to recognize familiar patterns in music in a practical way. It is a basis to play music intuitively.

    My ability to solo took a big leap when I figured out the following process: take an interesting 4 bar
    progression. One chord per bar. Hum the 3rd or 7th note of the first chord for the entire bar. Then hum the
    3rd or 7th note of the next chord for its entire bar. [Try to use the smallest possible interval between 3rds/7ths
    of the 2 chords.] Continue. Doing this connects chords by their strongest notes, and provides a "backbone"
    for any decorations you may choose to add. This process is called establishing "guide tone lines."
    Hum the 3rds/7ths as "mini drones" as you play solos over them. I tend to play a 3rd or 7th near the chord
    change to emphasize the change. This is useful in another way. If you do it a lot, you'll be able to find the 3rd
    of an unfamiliar chord, and know what the chord is.
    Here's an example from https://www.jazzguitarlessons.net/

    Click image for larger version. 

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  32. #50
    Registered User belbein's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Playing the circle of fifths"

    Explorer: I'm not trying to be argumentative ... or maybe, since I am argumentative by profession, I should say "I'm trying NOT to be argumentative." But I wonder if I might suggest that it works differently.

    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
    worked my way through a few books to really understand how chords interact ... "Oh! He's right! Using that kind of suspension and progression *does* sound mysterious!"
    But doesn't it actually work the opposite? When you're composing, don't you listen to or feel what works--or what doesn't work--and can then go to theory as a diagnostic? I am a writer, not a composer, but I observe the above because ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Explorer View Post
    If you have to guess about writing an effective sentence, then you can't consistently express yourself well. Music is the same thing.
    ... as a writer, that's the way I write a sentence. A strictly workmanlike sentence like this one you're reading: I don't even think about it. (Thank you Mrs. Flynn, RIP.) But when I'm composing--fiction, poetry, drama, a legal brief--I intuit where I want to go, thinking (so to speak) melodically. The focus is internal to the work, not external toward a structural description of the piece. Then, if something "doesn't work," or if it works particularly well, I might go back and diagram a sentence or outline a paragraph or mark out rhythms. But that is an analytical overlay, consciously wielded. I can't write that way. I can critique that way, though.

    I'd suggest that a composer who used "music theory" as a generating tool would end up writing inhuman, unemotional crap. Something like European technopop. But not music that would make me want to grab my instrument and play along.
    belbein

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