circle of fifths

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(Ger. Qintenzirkel).

An arrangement first described by Heinichen in Der Generalbass (1728) and used by theorists to illustrate relative harmonic remoteness of one key from another, i.e. the number of fifths by which 2 notes are separated along the circle. If arranged clockwise by ascending (or descending) perfect fifths, the tonics of the 12 major (or minor) keys make a closed circle, thus: C–G–D–A–E–B(=C♭)–F♯(=G♭)–C♯(=D♭)–A♭–E♭–B♭–F–C and so after these 12 steps the original key is reached again.

Subjects: Music.

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