I dont consider myself to be lacking in theory knowledge at all, Chord construction, scales, modes, harmonies, all that I know very well. But I've made it to this point with never actually understanding the circle of fifths. I understand what it is, top note is C then it goes around by fifths (C G D A and so on) clockwise is up a fifth, counterclockwise is down a fifth. Sure, but my question is how can I use that? Do you just learn the circle of fifths just to know what the fifth of C is? I hear people say "Use the circle of fifths" a lot, but I never entirely understood HOW you can do that other than just seeing what the fifth of G is.

Am I trying to make it more complicated than it really is, or is there really more to it than I've picked up on?
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how do you guys remember the CoF? is there some pattern or something?
^Lots of use and lots of looking at it.
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Is the fact that you can arrange it in a circular shape meant to help you remember it? o_O;;
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^^No, well, not specifically - it's in a circle because it is a circle. It shows how keys are related to each other.
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The circle of fifths is relatively simple. Clockwise is the dominant direction, where you add a fifth each time. The fifth note of the old scale becomes the tonic of the new one, and the fourth note of the old scale becomes the seventh of the new one and is sharpened.

For example, you begin with C major. You move clockwise a fifth: The dominant note in C major (G) becomes the new tonic. The sub-dominant of C major (F) is sharpened to become the seventh of G major (F#).

Moving anticlockwise is the sub-dominant direction, which means you add a fourth (or subtract a fifth) each time. The fourth note of the old scale becomes the tonic of the new one, and the seventh note of the old scale becomes the fourth of the new scale and is flattened.

For example, moving down from C major, the sub-dominant of C major (F) becomes the new tonic. The leading (7th) note of C major (B) is flattened to become the new sub-dominant (Bb).

Each movement clockwise adds a new sharp, and each movement anticlockwise adds a new flat. The circle of fifths shows the formation of sharp and flat key signatures. The circle can go all the way in either direction and have twelve sharps or twelve flats - this would entail representing C as B# or Dbb.

This depiction of the circle of fifths shows only six fifths counting up and down from the tonic, and ends with F# meeting Gb. However, it also shows the relative minor keys of each major, and the major triad of each new scale.

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Originally posted by Zamboni
Clockwise= Up a fifth, Counterclockwise= Up a fourth.

Down a fifth is the same as up a fourth.

I use it for working out key signatures. And when doing anything in theory, if in doubt just do something to do with a fifth and it'l probably be right
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Originally posted by Jaimz
Down a fifth is the same as up a fourth.

I use it for working out key signatures. And when doing anything in theory, if in doubt just do something to do with a fifth and it'l probably be right

But just for the sake of argument, it is easy to think of it as up a fourth. To me at least.