Circle Of Fifths

Circle of Fifths

In music theory, the circle of fifths (or circle of fourths) shows the relationships among the twelve tones of the chromatic scale, their corresponding key signatures, and the associated major and minor keys. More specifically, it is a geometrical representation of relationships among the 12 pitch classes of the chromatic scale in pitch class space. Since the term 'fifth' defines an interval or mathematical ratio which is the closest and most consonant non-octave interval, then the circle of fifths is a circle of closely related pitches or key tonalities. Musicians and composers use the circle of fifths to understand and describe those relationships. The circle's design is helpful in composing and harmonizing melodies, building chords, and moving to different keys within a composition.

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In 1679 a treatise called Grammatika was written by the composer and theorist Nikolai Diletskii.[6][page needed] Diletskii’s Grammatika is a treatise on composition, the first of its kind, which targeted Western-style polyphonic compositions.[6] It taught how to write kontserty, polyphonic a cappella, which were normally based on liturgical texts and were created by putting together musical sections that have contrasting rhythm, meters, melodic material and vocal groupings.[6][page needed] Diletskii intended his treatise to be a guide to composition but pertaining to the rules of music theory. Within the Grammatika treatise is where the first circle of fifths appeared and was used for students as a composer's tool. Using the circle of fifths Diletskii showed how a series of musical ideas could be expanded by the use of similar letters.