Welcome to the exciting world of… music theory? Yawnfest! What could possibly be exciting about memorizing 15 key signatures? And scales, scales, scales! Can’t we just leave them to the fish and the snakes? So much memorizing, so many rules. What if there was just one place, one rule that ruled them all, one secret to understanding all the key signatures, chords, chord progressions—even those awful, endless scales?
Look no further! The mystical, magical Circle of Fifths—no music theory tool can match it. The Circle packs the entire system of scales and harmony into one small diagram.
Yet on first glance, the Circle of Fifths can look daunting and complicated. How do you unpack this ultimate musical zip file?
And did you know that there is a secret plan to put the magic Circle into the hands of billions of internet users?
Enter “Circle of Fifths… dot com”
Here at Easy Ear Training, we’ve been exploring the Circle of Fifths in several posts:
And for a thoroughly comprehensive yet very practical, user friendly view, we love CircleOfFifths.com. Music producer Shranny runs a beautiful website with downloadable images, taking the reader step-by-step through the Circle of Fifths and the host of music theory concepts that it generates.
Shranny’s website is embroidered with more links than a coat of chainmail. Everything is clickable, providing easy references to all kinds of scales, key signatures, chords—you name it! This is a great way to experience and assimilate the information as you use it.
We talked with Shranny about CircleOfFifths.com and learned about his secret plan:
I was born near San Francisco, then we moved to India when I was 5 years old. The main forms of entertainment that surrounded me were Hindi music and films. Music helped me to relate to people that didn’t speak English. So I was drawn to it early.
My secret plan is to teach more people about the Circle of Fifths than anyone ever for free. Musical education should not cost money.
I first learned about the Circle of Fifths from Jerry Fromedar, a music teacher at community college. He opened my eyes to the beauty of the Circle Of Fifths and I have used it ever since. I remember the day Jerry said, while drawing it on a blackboard for the hundredth time,”I wish someone would make a big poster”. So years later Maxwell Klein and I created our own design.
Yes, it has been a labor of love for the past eight years. And of course it’s never finished and always needs updates.
The Circle of Fifths gives you visual reference to a lot of information in one place. It makes everything more easy to understand. I use it so much—and most people don’t even know what it is. It shows key signatures and diatonic harmony patterns elegantly so that you can be more harmonious in compositions.
Of course it is very handy for looking up key signatures. You can memorize them with little rhymes. And as you delve in further I’ve broken down the key signatures into how the scale is built and how sharps and flats actually work.
The Circle of Fifths is the key to understanding diatonic harmony and chord progressions. I go into diatonic harmony more specifically on my other website, DiatonicHarmony.com.
I myself rely on these two references—Circle of Fifths and Diatonic Harmony—all the time in my work to create productions that sound good to clients and artists.
My advice is to study the Circle of Fifths image. It is the most important powerful graphical resource for understanding music. I recommend students, parents and teachers to put it in classrooms on walls and on binders—anyplace where music happens—so it’s there all the time. If you go to the website, you can just drag the main Circle of Fifths image to your desktop, and print it for free.
Ready to take on the power of the Circle of Fifths? Whether you are a composer, songwriter, producer, instrumentalist or just looking for an end to the music theory madness, Shranny lays it out in a no-nonsense way that’s easy, clear, and—dare we say it?—fun!