The Architecture of Music

The Circle of Fifths

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Analyzing Chords Using the Circle of Fifths

If the notes are removed from the COF it can be used to describe the sounds of chords and scales. The illustrations on this page and the next use the COF to analyze the root position chords and inversions. Study these diagrams to help explore chords you might not normally use. The linear circle of fifths can be used to find negative chords as well. As can be seen below, a mirror line runs down the central note of linear the circle of fifths. Root chords are negative chords with 2nd inversions and 1st inversions are negative chords with other 1st inversions. Study these diagrams to help explore chords you might not normally use. For instance, the maj3 obviously sounds good, its negative chord, the min3/2, sounds pretty good as well.

Notice how the circles along the COF change to squares as they get further away from the central note. This is to demarcate notes further away from the central note but have a closer harmonic relationship to each other. In scales, the squares help to identify notes further away from the key note identifying them as notes that you will have to work your way around the circle to or will be more difficult to play but hold a closer harmonic relationship to each other.

Analyzing Chords Using The Linear Circle of Fifths