The Cycle Of Fourths
The circle of fifths and fourths is an incredibly important part of music theory for beginners and all reading musicians learn both cycles when studying key signatures.
The cycle of fourths is also commonly used by musicians when learning scales, arpeggios and pretty much any exercise as a way of working through every chromatic key.
What Is The Cycle Of Fourths?
The cycle of fourths is just a listing of notes that move up by successive perfect fourths intervals, e.g. C to F, F to Bb and so on.. As this sequence of notes moves through every chromatic note, we can use it to create order when running through our scales and arpeggios.
It’s also a great way to get to know the notes on the fretboard. You can also use the cycle of fifths, which is the same concept except you are moving up in perfect fifths.
These are also really handy for learning all the key signatures and identifying what accidentals (sharps and flats) are contained in each.
Split it into three parts; Think ‘CF‘ as in cycle of fourths, then ‘BEAD‘ of sweat with a ‘G‘ stuck on the end, and finally, we have that again but with flats added, ‘BbEbAbDbGb.’
Then it’s just a case of committing that to memory by running it over and over again and incorporating exercises. Find the notes first, then run through them using three note arpeggios, then the four note arpeggios, pentatonic scales and the Major scales.
If you have any problems finding the notes then stop, take your time and work it out. Avoid looking for patterns, this exercise will turbo charge you fretboard knowledge and your music theory too!