Look for additional Bruce Bernhart mandolin articles to come!
Lesson #6- Scales, Meter, 5ths.
Updated January 4, 2021
There are many interesting properties for the Circle of 5ths, and it is used frequently in bluegrass and country music. The Circle of 5ths helps identify the three primary chords in any key. Get out the chart
from our beginner lesson. In the section entitled "Three Primary Chords", we showed you a set of three primary chords that could be used to play 1000's of songs. We also showed you that there is a set of three primary chords in each of the 12 keys. We learned that in the Key of C, the three primary chords were C, F, and G. If you look at C, it is surrounded by F and G. So, to find the three primary chords in any key, just look at any key in the Circle of 5ths, and the two letters surrounding that key will complete the three primary chords in that key. For example, in the key of A, the three primary chords are A, D, and E. In the key of Bb, the three primary chords are Bb, Eb, and F. Knowing the cirle of fifths will be able to guide you through many bluegrass and country songs that this same similar chord structure, regardless of the key it's in. This will allow you to play a given song that has this structure in any key.
The keys of the Circle of 5ths move up by a perfect 5th in the clockwise direction. Take a look at C. If you move clockwise, the next key is G. G is a perfect 5th above C. Every single move clockwise on the
circle of 5ths moves the key up by a perfect 5th. You should now be familiar with the Circle of 5ths. One interesting property of the Circle of 5ths is that the primary chords appear next to each other on the Circle of 5ths. You will learn more about the Circle of 5ths in lessons to come.
A word about meter:
The most common meter is 4/4, which means that there are four beats in a measure. There’s also 3/4 (three beats in a measure), 2/4 (two beats in a measure), 5/4 (five beats in a measure – Mission: Impossible is written in 5/4), and even 6/4 (six beats in a measure). There’s also common time, another way to write 4/4 (it’s written as a C in the place of the numbers). Then there’s cut time, which is the same as 2/2. This means there are two beats in the measure – and each beat is one half note. This effectively makes the tempo twice as fast. Cut time is written as a C with a line through it.
See the next page for more discussion of pentatonics and circle of fifths
Be sure to visit the other Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites:
Also, check out the Bruce Bernhart RV Websites and Blogs: