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Circle of fifths lesson 4 - Major flat scales

Welcome to the fourth Circle of fifths lesson.

It contains lots of piano and treble clef diagrams, and mp3 audio files to link all the relevant material together.

Below are detailed steps to understand and draw the major flats on the Circle of fifths diagram.

Please read the first three lessons before continuing, as they contain background material needed in this lesson.

Circle of fifths
Lesson1. Introduction2. Major sharps3. Minor sharps4. Major flats5. Minor flats

1. Major flat scales

This step shows how to memorize and draw the major flat scale labels on the Circle of fifths diagram.

Memorizing the major flat scale order

In 2. Major sharps, the phrase Father Charles Goes Down And Ends Battle was used to memorize the order of the tonic names of the scales.

To memorize the major flats in this lesson, just reverse the word order of the same phrase:

Battle Ends And Down Goes Charles Father

The next fact to memorize is Battle starts at 10 o'clock, as this is the hour position the phrase starts on the spiral, and then it moves counter-clockwise.

And finally, remember that F(ather) has 1 flat, and is the only major scale name in this lesson without a flat name in it. ie. all other words in the phrase are flattened.. B(Flat)attle, E(Flat)nds, etc.

Here is all of that information in table form.

Circle of fifths major flat layout in table form
Clock hr.109876511
Phrase wordBattleEndsAndDownGoesCharlesFather
No. of flats2345671

The Circle of fifths diagram below is greyed out except for the items covered in this lesson.


Drawing the major flat scale labels

Starting at 10 o'clock, draw in the first letter B(attle), then write in the first letters of each word moving around counter-clockwise, adding a flat name to all of them.

There will be one word left over after reaching the end of the spiral at 5 o'clock - Father, but this has already been drawn in when completing 2. Major sharps.

And now from 11 o'clock, write in the number of flats (1), adding 1 each time, moving counter-clockwise until the end of the spiral is reached at 5 o'clock, with 7 flats.

Just to quickly recap about what the label names mean from a music theory point of view:

The first letter of each word is the tonic note(ie. the starting note) of the major scale of that note name.

So for example, Battle is note Bb, which is the first note of the Bb major scale, and so on.

The above information gives us the order of the notes as they appear on the key signature (ie. the note names, sharps and flats, in the correct order) of each of these scales.

The remaining steps below take each scale in turn, and explain how to arrive at the key signature in each case, starting with the scale with the fewest flats - F major scale at 10 o'clock.

2. Circle of fifths-F major has 1 flat

This step shows how to work out how many sharps and flats the F major scale has, using only the Circle of 5ths major scale labels.

The F major scale is highlighted Circle of fifths diagram below. It has 1 flat note.

But which flat note does it contain ? Again, the Battle Ends... phrase provides the answer.

Simply take the next word in the phrase (.. the first word in this case) - Battle, and use that flattened note name.

So the F major scale contains a single flat note - Bb, which is highlighted just below the diagram title below.

Circle of fifths- F major has 1 flat, at 10 o'clock
Clock hr.109876511
Phrase wordBattleEndsAndDownGoesCharlesFather
No. of flats2345671