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17 Sept 2012

Circle of 5th - part 2

Please refer to my first post on the Circle of 5ths to explain the basics.

So we've looked at what the circle means at a glance. Now let's get a little more in depth.

As you can see from the circle, there is a pattern to the sharps and flats in a key signature. The sharps increase one at a time in this order F C G D A E B. There are a few different rhymes people use to remember this, but the one I always learnt was: Father Christmas Goes Down All Escalators Backwards. The flat keys go in reverse, B E A D G C F (which is the rhyme backwards). Using this you can work out easily that if a key has 4 sharps, they will be F C G D. If a key is 5 flats they will be B E A D G.

Now as I said before, each key signature is shared by two types of scale - the relative major and minor. These two scales are always one and a half steps apart from each other (three semitones). To find the relative minor of a major scale, step 1½ steps down from the major. To find the relative major of a minor scale, step 1½ steps up. Have a look back at the picture of the circle, and see how that all fits together.

Now you should be able to work out what sharps or flats are in a particular key, as well as the relative major/minor of a key.


  1. Beginners violin lessons are more often than not started with a few simple finger positions on the finger board. Usually students will take at least three to five beginner lessons before they are ready to play their first tune on the violin. viola app


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