#1
Lets take this image:


PLEASE bear with me, I'm learning all my theory! :P


The circle of fifths tells me the following:
  • If I go clockwise, it tells me the what the fifth would be
  • If I look at the relative minor below the major letter at the top, that is the relative minor... Does this mean relative minor note or scale or both/other?
  • I can tell how many #/b are in the key signature



...but what else can it tell me besides the above? (and please correct me if I'm wrong)
- If you go counter clockwise is that fourths? I read that somewhere but I may have read it wrong
- Can I go around in the circle forever and it'll always hold true (excluding physics principles when you go too far and things get weird?)
- What else can I do with this?

Thank you in advance
: )
#2
I prefer to look at it as:

Sharps: move up in 5ths
Flats: move up in 4ths (so yes you are right).

It's simply a tool to help you memorize key signatures and relative major/minors. It really doesn't have any musical function once you memorize it (if so, that function is unknown to me).

EDIT: It means relative minor scale. Notes don't have a major or minor quality. The only way an "A" can be minor is if it is a minor interval from another note.
Last edited by Sóknardalr at May 12, 2011,
#5
Quote by Zen Skin
It also tells you that if you see a piece of music in G flat, brace yourself.


#6
fourths, relative keys, closely related keys (a key's relative minor, the key a 4th or 5th away, or either key's relative minor), a way to derive key signatures (each fifth you go after C adds a sharp, each fourth adds a flat). if you look at any key accros the circle (for example, F-B) the two keys are related by the interval of a tritone.
all the best.
(insert self-aggrandizing quote here)
#7
Quote by tehREALcaptain
fourths, relative keys, closely related keys (a key's relative minor, the key a 4th or 5th away, or either key's relative minor), a way to derive key signatures (each fifth you go after C adds a sharp, each fourth adds a flat). if you look at any key accros the circle (for example, F-B) the two keys are related by the interval of a tritone.


^ this
shred is gaudy music
#8
It will also tell you to which keys you can smoothly modulate. By adding or removing a single sharp or flat you start modulation to the key either side.
#9
To be honest, it didn't do much for me until I started to study jazz. Jimmy Bruno suggested to practice certain things he taught using the circle of 5ths, and boy it made a lot of difference! It allowed me to almost instantly know and see where to go, playing through progressions where the keys change every couple of bars.

I honestly don't know how I could have done it easier, had I not applied myself to practicing over the circle of 5ths. In other forms of music where there was only a single key, I never needed this but when learning to improv Jazz style and apply his principles and arpeggio ideas, it was invaluable. Because you can play in any key on the guitar with at most a 2 fret change from anywhere you are. In this context, the circle of 5ths and Jimmy's ideas were the stuff of genius.

Best,

Sean