Tone Circle


What is the circle of fourths/fifths?

If we take the 12 notes of the chromatic scale and arrange each tone in a circle with its 4th and 5th intervals to either side of that tone, we will have a nice looking circle with some interesting properties. We can use this circle to compose melodies, harmonies, and modulations. This circle is known as the circle of fifths when the 5th interval is read clockwise and the circle of fourths when we reverse it to have the 4th intervals clockwise. We are going to be talking about jazz, so we're going to focus on the circle of fourths.


Jazz is crazy about the ii V I progression. The extension of that: the iii vi ii V I.

Coltrane Changes

You may have noticed that the tone circle above has many additional tones joining the typical cycle. TODO.