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Circle of Fifths Video Series. Episode 3

Updated: Sep 30, 2023

Hi, my name is Chris from

Thank you for joining me in this series we're looking at the Circle of Fifths.

This is episode three, at the end of episode two I left you with the question what will the first note of the next scale in our sequence be?

Let's work it out between C and G we added five C, D, E, F, G. When we went from G to the next one we added five G, A, B, C, D. From D to A again we added five D, E, F, G, A. the next one is going to be E (A, B, C, D, E) because we're just adding five again.

We had a sequence here, where we carried forward the sharps so we can safely say that E will have an F sharp (from G major) it will have a C sharp, that's come forward from D major, and the G sharp is going to come forward from A major.

In the last video we spoke about the seventh note of the scale being the new sharp.

The seventh note of E major is the letter before E it would be D, so we could maybe say that the next sharp is going to be D sharp.

To make sure we better write the scale out on the board and find out so E, F (which we said was F sharp) G (which we said was G sharp) A, B, then we had the C sharp (from D major) then the new one, we suggest, is going to be D sharp and the top note E.

In episode 2 we were speaking about semitones being between notes three and four and notes seven and eight. Let's put these on one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight. Those are the degrees of the scale. The note numbers, we often call degrees and the third and fourth degree the seventh and eighth degree form are semitones.

Let's check that the G sharp to the A we know is a semitone because when we worked out in the last scale these were the seventh note to the eighth notes, so this one we know is correct.

D sharp to E; is that a tone or a semitone? well there's D sharp on the keyboard and there's E, there's no note in between D sharp and E so yes, that's the semitone.

The tetrachord makes up the scale, two tetrachords and the tetrachord is tone-tone-semitone.

The first four notes of the scale is the first tetrachord. We've checked the semitone E to F sharp which is a tone, F sharp to G sharp is a tone, then G sharp to A is a semitone; our first tetrachord is correct.

The second tetrachord is B to C sharp, well there's a C in the middle so that's a tone. C sharp to D sharp, there's a D in the middle so again that's a tone and D sharp to E, that's definitely a semitone so let's have a listen to E major.

That's our major scale, what is our next scale going to start on? We calculated it's going to start on the fifth note, so one two three four five, let's take that note down here onto the next stave.

Which b should we start on? we could start on B3 or B4, we'll start on the low B (B3) because we've got then the little line, the ledger line, below the stave here.

We add a little line when we run out of stave, we call it a ledger line. We also need the ledger line for C and then we can start underneath the stave with D, E, F, G, A, B.

Let's work out the sharps again; like we did last time.

We added five to E, and we've added five again and we've got to B.

The F sharp we carry forward from G major, the C sharp we're carrying forward from D major, the G sharp we carry forward from A major, and we can bring the D sharp forward from E major.

In episode two we worked out that the seventh note of the scale is our new sharp so the seventh note of B is the letter name that comes before B which is A.

Our next sharp is A sharp, that's what it should be, let's put them in on the scale and find out.

We had F sharp from G major, C sharp from D major, G sharp from A major, the last one we had was D sharp from E major and then our seventh note that we spoke about is our new sharp A sharp which makes it B major.

Let's check the semitones to be sure the semitones are between notes three and four and seven and eight.

We better check the tetrachords to make sure that they're correct.

B to C sharp that should be a tone if we look at the keyboard B to C sharp has C in the middle so that's a tone.

C sharp to D sharp, but we worked out that up there, that's also a tone and D sharp to E was the last interval in the previous scale which is a semitone.

F sharp to G sharp should be a tone.

G sharp to A sharp that's our new one, should also be a tone and A sharp to B is your semitone.

The glue sticking the two tetrachords together should be a tone E to F sharp is a tone because the F is in the middle, so let's play that to make sure that sounds just about right.

I forgot to say in episode two, so I’m going to reiterate it now, that when you've written these scales down do play them, play them on your own instrument, see how they sound, get used to the sound of the scale. If you play them on a keyboard or a piano it's much easier to see what you're doing in relation to the black and white notes. If you don't have a keyboard or a piano, not a problem, download one of the free apps off play store or on the iphone. You can use one octave of a keyboard just to play through just with one finger all the way up and down, if you need any extra help please leave a message in the comments.

On the website and in the description below you will find the third worksheet for the circle of fifths and it includes the E major and the B major scale. On the back are some questions to answer to help you understand, in words, and then we write them out in all four clefs to help you understand in clefs. If you need any extra help on the alto and tenor clefs I will be making some videos on those later on.

Most of the videos that I make show the scales in the treble clef, so i will try and do them in other clefs as well as duplicate videos. If you need any help do leave a question below in the comments what either myself or one of my team will answer them. If you have a teacher you could show your worksheet to the teacher afterwards to get them checked, if you don't have a teacher and you would like your work verified please email one of our social media channels with the images of your worksheet and myself or one of my team will get back to you if this has been helpful please like and subscribe and check back next time for episode 4. thank you for joining me see you next time bye.

Since making this video there are now answer sheets available on Music Academy Hub.


Chris Caton-Greasley LLCM(TD) MA (Mus)(Open)

Ethnographic Musicologist, Teacher, Researcher

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