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I really need to learn how to read the circle of fifths... i know i really should kno this, but i dont, sooo can some one plz explain like wat it means to play 2 steps down from G or w/e it is

pllllzz help!
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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That is a good link, but also there is page on my jazz theory section:

http://www.petethomas.co.uk/jazz-cycle-of-5ths.html

If you go there, it would be best to start at the very beginners page. (jazz beginners I and II)

Your question about the 2 steps down sound like you have some confused info from someone, but could be to do with this:

When you cycle through 5ths (as you will discover from thos links) and start at e.g. G, you go down 5 notes from G (= GFEDC) so a 5th from G is C. To continue round the cycle you go 5 notes down from C (=CBAGF) and end up on F.

Now in jazz its very common for a sequence to include what are called II-V-!s (you'll learn what that means on those jazz beginners pages). This is basically a series of 3 chords (=chord progression) that is a short section of the cycle of 5ths so in the key of F it would go: Gm7-C7-F. From start to finish you will notice the roots have gone down 1 whole tone from G to F , i.e. 2 semitones. I believe this might be what you are referring to as the "two steps down".

That's a very simplistic explanation - the store gets more complicated so you will need to start at the beginning and take everything in slowly. Good luck.
 

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To answer your question (which doesn't seem to have been addressed here except to refer you elsewhere), the circle of fifths means that each scale in the circle has one more sharp (or flat) that the previous. If you are playing the "sharp" circle of fifths, each new scale is a fifth above the previous and contains one additional sharp note.
e.g. C, G (#), D(##), A(###), E(####) etc.
In playing the "flat" circle of fifths the approach is essentially the same except that ordinarily you think in terms of lowering notes a half-step so you DESCEND a fifth to the scale with an additional flat.
e.g. C, F(b), Bb (bb), Eb (bbb), Ab(bbbb) etc.
Another way to look at the circle of (flat) fifths is to ASCEND four degrees to the scale that contains one additional flatted note. It works in either direction.
e.g. C, F(b), Bb(bb) etc.
In approaching the "sharp" circle of fifths descending you go down four degrees to the scale which has one additional sharp. E.G. C, (down four degrees to) G(#), etc.
That's really all there is to it.

ATJ
 

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Grafton alto | Martin Comm III tenor
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Allthatjazz said:
you go down four degrees to the scale which has one additional sharp. E.G. C, (down four degrees to) G(#), etc.
That's really all there is to it.
Although that is really a circle of 4ths.

EDIT:

Circle of 5ths is basically root movement down a 5th, irrespective of sharps or flats.

D - G - C

F - Bb - Eb

Ab - Db - Gb (F#)

B - E - A

Which brings us back to D. (and note how each group of 3 ends a whole tone (or two semitones) lower than it starts, which I believe is back to the original question.
 

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Pete Thomas said:
Although that is really a circle of 4ths.

EDIT:

Circle of 5ths is basically root movement down a 5th, irrespective of sharps or flats.

D - G - C

F - Bb - Eb

Ab - Db - Gb (F#)

B - E - A

Which brings us back to D. (and note how each group of 3 ends a whole tone (or two semitones) lower than it starts, which I believe is back to the original question.
The whole idea of the circle of fifths is that it be useful to music students (and musicians!) as a tool to understand that by adding additional raised or lowered notes as one progresses through the "circle", the intervals of each scale remain constant and give order to musical notation and to the sound of the scales. The fact that it becomes a "circle of fourths" in the other direction only demonstrates that it is orderly in that direction as well. And the "root movement" as you call it, is certainly not "irrespective of sharps and flats" - the progressive addition of sharps (or flats) is the sine qua non through which all the scales have the same intervalic structure.
It is also helpful to students who are learning the scales in a progressive way that each added sharp is a fifth higher than the one in the previous scale. The circle of fifths is not about nit-picking esoteric discussions but instead, is a valuable and practical tool for every musician.

ATJ
 

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Allthatjazz said:
The whole idea of the circle of fifths is that it be useful to music students (and musicians!) as a tool to understand that by adding additional raised or lowered notes as one progresses through the "circle", the intervals of each scale remain constant and give order to musical notation and to the sound of the scales. The fact that it becomes a "circle of fourths" in the other direction only demonstrates that it is orderly in that direction as well. And the "root movement" as you call it, is certainly not "irrespective of sharps and flats" - the progressive addition of sharps (or flats) is the sine qua non through which all the scales have the same intervalic structure.
It is also helpful to students who are learning the scales in a progressive way that each added sharp is a fifth higher than the one in the previous scale. The circle of fifths is not about nit-picking esoteric discussions but instead, is a valuable and practical tool for every musician.

ATJ
Yes, the circle can go in both directions, and whether your call it 4ths or 5ths doesn't really matter. BUT the harmonic movement of most Western music moves in the direction that Pete Thomas mentioned (you're much more likely to see a root progression of D-G-C than the other way).

So, far from mere theoretical nitpicking, if you're going to practice things through the cycle of fifths, it will be of more practical value to practice in the D-G-C direction. As in the bridge of "I Got Rhythm."
 

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I'm sorry but what you all seem to be describing is not the circle of fifths, which has been defined above. The circle of fifths does not exist to offer a key or to illustrate chord progressions - like Dm7, G7, Cmaj. Just as one proof, the Dm scale from which the Dm7 is derived, doesn't even contain an F# but an F natural.
I persist in my view that the circle of fifths is an aid to scale study and is an explanation and illustration of how raising certain notes of major scales, if done in an orderly way, allow us to view all the key signatures as a "circle", wherein by adding a new sharp note to each scale in a prescribed manner, it will take us around the so-called circle and back to where we started; a scale with no sharps (or flats), namely C.
And I commented that, looked at in the other direction, adding a flat to each new scale as one descends in order to keep all scale intervals constant, another circle exists, called the circle of flats. It is just as useful as the circle of sharps inasmuch as it allows us to understand how all the flat key signatures are obtained and how they relate.
 

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Well, I'm sorry too. :D The Circle of Fifths is merely what it seems: a relationship between keys who are a fifth apart. People can apply it in many way but the application does not define what it is, only reflects how some might use it.

It reflects the practice in Western European music of the tonal movement from one key to another by root relationship of a fifth. Coexisting with that is that the closely related keys have six of the seven tones in common with one another as you go around the circle. I'm not certain, but believe this relationship of close to distant related keys also is a holdover from the non-tempered era when you could get away with modulations to closely related keys but the more distant modulations would sound horrible.

My personal belief is that this relationship is also reflected in nature when you realise that the overtone series is built, sequentially, first on a fifth, then a fourth, etc.

Taking it one step further, most improvising musicians in our tradition use the circle to organise practicing scales and chord progressions since the root movement of 4ths/5ths is the most common.

At any rate, I think some are confusing what the Circle of Fifths is, with how some use them and that's not always the same thing. :)
 

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"2 step down from G" to me indicates someone is telling you about transposing to either another key or to another note. By moving down 2 steps from G you would be playing E or Eb, depending on whether the key is G major or G minor. This interval is a minor 3rd. We're now learning about intervals rather than root movements found in the "Circle of Fifths."

Some nice links given by other posters, though, for learning about chords and chord progressions.:)
 
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