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The Patterns of Music

And How to Use Them

As someone who just started college and has just started to be thrown into the real world of music, I was shook up a little bit when I first got to college but I actually have done better than other freshmen because of these patterns that I memorized in high school. So, if you are looking to continue music into college or just looking to learn how music works, here are some patterns in music that will help you succeed from a theory perspective which is very important in college and also the real world.

The Circle of Fourths (& Fifths)

I was lucky enough to begin learning this pattern all the way back in middle school thanks to my teacher, Mr. Freeby and my late lesson teacher Betsy. This pattern is one of the most important patterns in music. As my teacher Mr. McClendon always said, "Music moves in fourths."

The pattern is:

C F Bb Eb Ab Db Gb B E A D G or C F Bb Eb Ab C# F# B E A D G

This pattern is extremely helpful in many ways especially in jazz because the circle of fourths is just made up of a bunch of ii-V-Is. For example, if you pick out C, F, and Bb that is a ii-V-I in Bb. (Cm7 F7 Bbmaj)

You can also even add two more on it makes the iconic chord progression iii-vi-ii-V-I, for example B E A D G equals Bm Em Am D7 Gmaj.

The circle of fifths is the same pattern just moving in the opposite direction, moving right to left instead of left to right.

(G D A E B Gb Db Ab Eb Bb F C or G D A E B F# C# Ab Eb Bb F C)

Order of Sharps & Flats

The order of sharps and flats don’t necessarily reveal secret chord progressions for us but it does help us when learning all of the keys you’ll have to play.

The order of sharps is:


And the order of flats is the opposite:

​B E A D G C F

When it comes to these orders, the guide is, if you know there are two flats, you take the first two from the order of flats and same goes for the order of sharps.

Triad Pattern

The triad pattern is simply a running line of letters that outline all the triads. This pattern I learned from my teacher Mr McClendon and I use it a lot either in jazz or on theory homework. :)

The triad pattern is:

C E G B D F A C continued on infinitely.

If you take any three letters out of this pattern, you have a triad of any quality such as minor major diminished augmented (provided you add the correct accidentals) so take F A C that spells a F major triad and adding a sharp on C makes it augmented etc.

Also, you don't have to just take three notes, you can take four or five, five notes makes a nine chord, six makes an eleven chord, and so on and so forth.

This pattern has helped me find those pesky extensions such as the sevens, nines and such.

Well there you have it, those are my patterns to memorize! All of these are extremely helpful as you become a more experienced musician if you have them memorized, but also it's crazy to see how these simple patterns spell out the whole DNA of music!