Flatten It Out

by D.S.

Flattened Circle of Fifths - Sharps

Flattened Circle of Fifths - Sharps

From the beginning, using the circle of fifths chart was always difficult. In my mind, it was tough to picture it, manipulate it, learn from it- so I flattened it out.

**Note: I wrote this using the major scale only, but you can write in the minors if you like.

It looks like this:

Sharps (#)

C    D    E    F#
  G    A    B    C#

Explanation: The top line starts at C, always, then goes one whole step up. You mark the sharps based on where that note lands on the piano (either on a white or black key). The bottom line starts at five notes up (including C), then goes one whole step up as well. Mark the sharps on the bottom line the same way as the top.

Flats (b)

C    Bb    Ab    Gb
   F    Eb    Db    Cb

Explanation: Start at C, go one whole step down, marking the flats based again on the piano. The bottom line starts at five notes down (including C), then goes one whole step down each time from there. Mark the flats on the bottom line the same way as the top.

For conversation purposes, I separated both scales into two lines, but you can integrate the rows just as easily with no problems.

As for numbering sharps and flats, it works the same way as in the circle: first note has no sharps/ flats, last note has seven. Then, using those numbers, figure out what is marked using FCGDAEB for sharps, and BEADGCF for flats.

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Feb 20, 2020
I totally agree with flattening it out
by: Anonymous

I've always just used FCGDAEB. It shows the order the sharps are added, and backwards it shows the order the flats are added. If you start at C and go to the right and then loop around to the beginning (adding a # to the name of the key after you loop around) it shows how many sharps a key has (C(0)G(1)D(2)A(3)E(4)B(5)F#(6)C#(7)). Starting at C and going left (and looping around, adding a flat to the name of the key) it shows the number of flats a key has (C(0) F(1) Bb(2) Eb(3) etc.

It sounds complicated when I write it in paragraph form, but the point being, yes. Simplifying the circle to a simple acronym and then teaching how to manipulate the acronym is an awesome way to do it and I appreciate seeing the way you do it. Thanks!

Jan 20, 2016
grammar errors
by: Anonymous

you should spell check your site,or employ someone to check grammar errors there are a couple mistakes I've noticed: under How to read the circle how many sharps (of) flats, should be sharps(or)flats
and (because of (THE) what it does to the key signature), should be because of what it does, these grammar errors makes your site seem less credible

Jan 20, 2015
This is Good
by: Anonymous

Thanks, I am taking this to heart. I feel the same about the Circle, that it is obviously organized and sensible, but very difficult to both manipulate and access. When I learned how to do it on the keyboard, I felt a major leap forward, yet still couldn't really relate it to other music. I guess it's one of those "simple" bits of knowledge that is always giving new reasons for being, always giving ways to grow.

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Hope this helps! Practice hard and let me know if you have any questions!

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