Re: [Harp-L] Circle of Fifths (Circle of Fourths) and Positions

Hi MusiCal -

Perhaps it would help to think of it just a bit differently. It's not the circle itself that's important to memorize, it's the intervals. All intervals are important, but the fifth is perhaps the most basic and most used. Knowing that the 5th of C is G, the 5th of G is D, etc... is hugely helpful on most instruments in western music. And once you know all the 5ths, you simply invert the relationship and you have all the 4ths (4th of G is C, etc...). That only leaves 10 other intervals to learn ;-).

Why are intervals important for improvisation? Because they are the basis for forming musical thoughts. Melodies are made up of intervals, as are chords. Knowing your intervals makes transposition easier, allows you to hit the note you're thinking of in whatever key you're in. Even if you aren't thinking in terms of the names of notes when you're improvising (I know I don't), you need to know the intervals on your axe. You hear a lick in your head, you want to play it, regardless of what key you're in, perhaps you recognize that the first interval is a minor 3rd and you know how to make that jump from where you are -- great, now what's the next interval and where is it on your axe?  

This is a basic foundation to build on, but can take (as in my case) many years to master. Some folks pick it up much more easily, but I enjoy the journey regardless.

And, bringing this full circle, so to speak, if you know your intervals, you already know the circle of 5ths.

Hope this helps a bit...

- Slim.

On Dec 17, 2013, at 3:23 PM, Music Cal wrote:

> Hi Ice
> I think I understand music theory, at least from the perspective of jazz
> improvisation, rather well yet I have never found a use for the circle of
> fifths. I would really like to know how others are actually using it.
> If one is reading notation then I could seen possible reasons to memorize
> the circle but in the context of improvisation or even composition how does
> it help?
> MusiCal

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