Cycle of Fourths

ReaGeorgeReaGeorge Posts: 119Member
edited September 2016 in Technical or Theoretical Advice
Hey Guys

My latest videos lesson on YouTube introduces the Cycle of Fourths.

I think its a very valuable piece of theory to understand, as movements of a fourth are used countless times in music.

It's also a great tool to use for practicing anything new, wether it be a Chord, Arpeggio or a new Scale. Playing it over the Cycle of Fourths will help familiarise yourself with it on the fingerboard.

Check out my video here:

Let me know what you think


  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,139Member
    Great. Very good teacher, player and video presenter. These vids deserve to get some notoriety on YouTube.

    I don't use the Cycle of Fourths. My improv is crap and I tend to play solo arrangements on acoustic in restaurants. That requires contrapuntal playing and it is a bit too awkward to make up on the spot so I've, rather shamefully, neglected my scales and progressions.

    I'd love to learn it all but there never seems to be the time.

    Oh. I don't have a brain either ! That's a bit on an impediment.

    I suppose my motivation is the guitar itself. I just love the sound of tonewood and the feel of the strings. (Finally got my Martin 00016) which I'll post here sometime soon.

    I love to watch other people play - especially electric guitar and ESPECIALLY a well played (and nicely battered) vintage Fender Strat through a valve amp by someone who knows how to get about the fretboard.

    Not too fast btw. But purposefully phrased and right for the backing. There is a huge difference betwixt a player who joins together tricks and one who sets out to say something from their own heart. I'm sure what you teach will equip our future players to do this.
  • SeorieSeorie Posts: 165Member
    woo thats way to complicated for the kinda music I play and the people I play for but thanks for posting.
    BTW those are huge Amps - are u a rock star by any chance ?
  • SkoylieSkoylie Posts: 58Member
    Good video. Again a bit above my level but when I get a chance I m going to watch your other videos.
  • ReaGeorgeReaGeorge Posts: 119Member
    Thanks Kevin

    Really appreciate your comments, nice to find people who appreciate my videos, I'm not quite sure how to get them seen.

    The lessons are partly for myself as I don't fully understand music and its application to the standard that I would like, so I'm trying to take it all in and apply it myself, while doing that I thought I would share the things I know or am getting to know through these videos.

    And I definitely hope it enables me and my audience to do as you said, be able to say something through playing, its not so difficult to sew some licks together and make a solo (which is fine when learning) but the real trick is to understand the instrument and music theory well enough that what you want to say can flow out naturally.

    Nice guitar you got there, the tone of the instrument is definitely a motivational factor for me too, would be great to see and hear your Martin.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,139Member
    Rea - Getting your videos seen is a bit like rubbing two sticks together to make fire. Keep going and eventually they will take off on their own.

    One of my tuition videos has hit 90k and gets about 150 viewings a day. A reasonable amount of footfall but then I'm disappointed that people haven't looked much at my other vids.

    If you can explain to me how to link through from my video to yours I'll gladly do it for you.

    I think the trick is to do a 1 minute video explaining a song that is likely to be googled alot. My successful one is The Boxer. So something of the same popularity as that. Or maybe something current and famous.

    Matt Bellamy's Plug in Baby intro might do it. Then link the rest of your videos from there.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,139Member
    PS, Minimum chit-chat is best. Just get straight into the playing - clear, close-up and s-l-o-w-e-d down seems to be popular.

    Bite sized lessons in chord progressions, scales that people can take away and use in an afternoon of dedicated effort.
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,139Member
    The Martin is more guitar than I deserve. The strings are too new and zingy for my liking. Once they are bedded in...
  • ReaGeorgeReaGeorge Posts: 119Member
    Yeah I think your right... The more content (videos) I create the better the chances I have of them being found.

    I have thought of creating videos that are more "popular" I guess I just prefer producing content that I think I would like... but maybe I should let go of trying to teach people what I think they should know and just give them what they want once in a while razz might be fun for me to learn some new songs too!

    Thats interesting you got one video generating so many hits compared to the rest, I have a similar anomaly (although not quite as many views) its a somewhat embarrassing composition I made quite a few years ago....

    I would be really grateful if you wanted to plug my videos in your own, you could take the link to my channel -
    or the Tutorial series playlist -
    or any of the individual videos using their respective links.

    I guess you have two options - you could create an annotation by going to your video's edit page and clicking annotations, then select link and type of link then paste one of them in.
    Add it in the video description, again go to your videos edit page, then write what you want to add to the description section and add the link....

    I checked out a few of your videos, nice stuff!! Look forward to your Martin 00016 video smile
  • JockoJocko Posts: 7,035Member, Moderator
    Réa. Think your videos would be more popular if, as well as showing how to do something, they also showed how to make use of the skill, once mastered. The Cycle of Fourths is typical. I watched it, saw what you were teaching, but cannot figure how to incorporate it into my playing. That is a video I would like to see. Videos great quality by the way.
  • DaveBassDaveBass Posts: 3,311Member
    Oh dear, that cycle-of-fourths video reminds me of the exercises I was forced to tackle when learning to play classical double-bass. Technically demanding, almost impossible to play without mistakes, and musically soul-destroying! frown

    But it's nice to see a guitarist using his left-hand fourth finger for once! So many don't, except for chords. smile

    However, I can't think of any musical context in which that exercise would be of any use. Except perhaps showing off to other musicians: "Hey guys, look what I can play; bet you can't."

    Of course scales are important, as are interval jumps, chords etc. But it would make more sense to the average guitarist if you could show how a piece of music (preferable a well known one) can be broken down into these pieces.

    Many pieces modulate from one key to another, but seldom through 12 keys (although I have actually written one myself that does!).

    I watched the rhythm video and that was better. It has direct application.

    It would also help if you could show close-ups, and play slowed-down versions. For example in the rhythm video a close-up of the left-hand muting would be helpful, and slowed down to show how the left-hand pressure is eased off just before the right hand strikes the strings, and then reapplied just before the next strike. These things are probably second nature to experienced players, but you have to spell them out to beginners!

    I remember learning horse riding and not being able to "get" the rising trot, until one day I hit it by accident and after that it seemed so natural that I couldn't understand why I'd found it difficult. Same goes for musical skills.

  • Options
    I don't think there's any playing application where being able to jump to any major scale in any position wouldn't be useful, to be honest. That's what I see the video as being useful for; it's an exercise which also shows one possible relationship between the scales. It's up to the individual guitarist to figure out how to use the skills gained from doing technical exercises, after all!
  • ReaGeorgeReaGeorge Posts: 119Member
    Wow its great getting different perspectives on my video, I can see i didn't explain myself so well in terms of what the Cycle is useful for, I might have to make a follow up video with a better explanation, until then here's a quick reply to try to clarify things a bit more and maybe for further discussion…

    I think one of the main points to understand is that this is an exercise to help introduce you to the cycle it's not something that would be directly used in a piece of music as such. Its important to commit the cycle to memory, or be able to count up the musical alphabet in intervals of four, one reason is that it will help you understand key signatures, on wikipedia the 'Cycle of Fifths' is defined as "a visual representation of the relationship among the 12 tones of the chromatic scale".

    The other reason is that almost all songs will contain chords within its progression that are related to each other by a fourth or a fifth, the blues is a great example of this. The harmonic movement of a fourth is probably the most pleasing to the ear, which his why it is one of the most popular, so its good to get to know it.

    Lastly the exercise that I used to show the cycle is as Rhythm Thief rightly understood a way to understand and practice where the positions of scales are on the fingerboard, so that if you should need any of them while your playing a solo you'll know the best place on the fingerboard to do so with out jumping around horizontally… does that make sense?
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,139Member
    Rea - I've linked your site to my video so hopefully you'll get some traffic from it.
  • ReaGeorgeReaGeorge Posts: 119Member
    Thanks Kevin! Appreciate it smile
  • Kevin PeatKevin Peat Posts: 3,139Member
    Dave Bass - This sort of study is for the ungifted who would wish to liberate their fingers so as to reach the great heights of the gifted.

    Jimmy Hendrix and Clapton were able to perform stoned. Matt Bellamy can sing opera style and knee-slide at the same time as lead-breaking. Their style of playing is intuitive and innate - they're good because they find it easy and have so much left to spare for singing and stage antics. I doubt any of them studied much. For the rest of us ??? This type of study is the only way to get that good unfortunately.
  • Options
    Just as a quick aside ... this thread has spurred me into actually doing some actual proper practise, which is a thing I never usually do. I've been picking up an acoustic every time I have a spare ten minutes and going through the major scales, round and round the cycle of fourths. It's been quite interesting, and a nice change from just noodling about. Cheers, Rea!
  • ReaGeorgeReaGeorge Posts: 119Member
    Thats great Rhythm Thief thanks for sharing that, It's a great feeling to know that I have helped to inspire someone to play more. Gives me more of a reason to keep going myself and keep the videos going too. smile
Sign In or Register to comment.