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The Circle of Fourths


The circle of 4ths is one of the coolest "cheat sheets" to learn. It can help you to understand scales, the order of the flats and sharps, key signatures, major and minor scales, the list is long. And to begin with, it only requires that you memorize one thing: C - F, BEAD, and G,C, F. (go catch fish)


First, let's learn how to DRAW the circle of Fourths.

Circle of Fourths Worksheet (pdf) - Extra Credit !



Next, learn some of the "magic" hidden in the circle of 4ths:


Using the Circle of 4ths with Clarinet, Trumpet & Tenor Saxophone


Using the Circle of 4ths with Eb Alto Saxophone, & Bari Sax


Using the Circle of 4ths with the French Horn



Part 2 - minor scales and the circle of 4ths.


Why learn the circle of 4ths? The key signatures that we use in band lend themselves to the circle of 4ths.
C - F - Bb - Eb - Ab, etc.

What's the difference between the circle of 4ths & the circle of 5ths? Well - the most obvious difference is the circle of 5ths proceeds upwards a 5th at a time. (larger interval), however - it still arrives "back" to the key of C.

Because band tends to use flat keys, the circle of 4ths is better because we can "go clockwise" and discover flat keys first. An orchestra would prefer the cirecle of 5ths, as it makes the sharp keys the first in the clock.

For the Circle of 4ths, we memorize "Circle Fourths, BEAD, GCF"
For the Circle of 5ths, we turn it around... start on C, proceed to GDAEBF. (backwards from 4ths)