The Cycle Of Fifths
Just as gravity acts as a force upon the earth, there is an analogous "force" that acts upon any chromatic tone. This force compels one note toward another that occurs one fifth below the original note(i.e., the fundamental C note resolving down one fifth to the fundamental F note). This natural tendency, which exists in all styles of music, can be described as a continuous spiral of descending, endlessly falling fifths. It is this cyclical progression of notes, tones, or chords that is defined by and depicted in the "cycle of fifths".
Music's primary progression, the cycle of fifths, is also the most crucial for the musician to hear, play, and put into practice. While it is often employed as a means for identifying key signatures, the primary function of the cycle of fifths is to explain the relationships between chords and the natural movement between them. But perhaps even most importantly, the cycle of fifths is the key to understanding the most common cadential progression in music: that of the dominant seventh chord(the chord built upon the fifth step of the major or minor scale) moving to the tonic chord(the chord built upon the first step of the major or minor scale), which in all keys is C7, F7, Bb7, Eb7, Ab7, Db7, F#7, B7, E7, A7, D7, and G7.
The fact that the strongest pull in music is the dominant chord to is tonic cannot be emphasized enough, for this relationship holds the key to our understanding of the harmonic movement, or delay, of all progressions in all types of music. Therefore, mastery of the dominant seventh chord and the cycle of fifths progression are vital to the education of the serious music student - no matter what area of music the student's primary interest may be in.
The method used in The Cycle Of Fifths is actually fun to practice! Each dominant seventh chord is written in the order dictated by the cycle of fifths. Each section featuring a different dominant seventh chord profiles the chord by way of several different rhythms. Playing each dominant seventh chord with different rhythms not only increases the student's fluency in executing each chord, but also takes the boredom out of practicing the exercises over and over in the same way. After playing only a few of the rhythmic exercises found within, the student will notice an immediate increase in the speed with which he or she can play each new exercise. In addition, students of traditional music will have increased their technique and sight-reading ability; students of jazz will have increased their ability to improvise over dominant seventh chords.