Circle of fifths: part 2

(part 1, you are here, part 3, test)

In the previous post you learned how to draw the circle of fifths yourself. You practiced a coupla times. You have it down. Fat cats did what again?

Now it’s time to put the circle to good use. In other words, find which sharps or flats are in a major scale (minor scales in the next post, promise).

The circle

As a reminder, here’s the circle you learn to draw in the previous post.

Now, here’s a question: what sharps/flats are in E major scale?

First, you explore the circle (The Circle!) looking for E. Ah, gotcha! It says 4. And it’s on the ♯ side. This means that E major scale has 4 sharps.

Which sharps thought? You look at the FCGDAEB area and count 4 letters.

So here’s your answer. E major scale has 4 ♯s and they are F, C, G and D.

Put them on the staff….





And this (above) is your scale signature. So your scale has the notes E F♯ G♯ A B C♯ D♯ E. There you go.

By the way, the ♯s and ♭s have designated places on the staff. You can’t for example put the G♯ on the second line. I mean you can, but giving such a signature to other folks to play may cause confusion. Followed by ridicule. Followed by mutiny!

How do you remember the positions of the ♯ and ♭? Dunno. I just go by the “Fat cat…” again and have a mental picture memorized of where stuff goes. Here’s a picture or two for you too.

Now, let’s go through the exercise again. B♭ major, shall we?

Found it! Two ♭s.

Which two ♭s you ask? Well look at the flat list (the reversed fat cat):

So B♭ major has two flats…

And they are B and E.

On the staff:

To be continued…

Next time: minor scales.

Meanwhile you go draw some circles. And practice figuring out ♯s and ♭s in major scales.

Need prompts? OK, tell me which ♯s or ♭s are in…

  • C major
  • D major
  • C major
  • F major
  • A♭ major

Overachiever? Draw these ♯s and ♭s on the staff in bass clef. Bye!

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