Bernhart Mandolin Websites

New! Tabs for Popular Fiddle Tunes:

"The Girl I Left Behind"
"Arab Bounce"
"Ora Lee"

Updated October 25, 2012


The Bernhart Websites

Mandolin Scales

Lesson #6- Scales, Meter, 5ths.

Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites

The Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Webpages explore the history of the mandolin, buying and building mandolins, basic chord structures, the different styles of playing, song tabs, the various makes and models of mandolins  available on the market, and the "best of the web" on topics of interest to mandolin enthusiasts

Look for additional Bruce Bernhart mandolin articles to come!
Understanding the Circle of Fifths

There are many interesting properties for the Circle of 5ths, and it is used frequently in bluegrass and country music.  The Circle of 5ths helps identify the three primary chords in any key.  Get out the chart
from our beginner lesson.  In the section entitled "Three Primary Chords", we showed you a set of three primary chords that could be used to play 1000's of songs.  We also showed you that there is a set of three primary chords in each of the 12 keys.  We learned that in the Key of C, the three primary chords were C, F, and G.   If you look at C, it is surrounded by F and G.  So,  to find the three primary chords in any key, just look at any key in the Circle of 5ths, and the two letters surrounding that key will complete the three primary chords in that key. For example, in the key of A, the three primary chords are A, D, and E. In the key of Bb, the three primary chords are Bb, Eb, and F.  Knowing the cirle of fifths will be able to guide you through many bluegrass and country songs that this  same similar chord structure, regardless of the key it's in.  This will allow you to play a given song that has this structure in any key.

The keys of the Circle of 5ths move up by a perfect 5th in the clockwise direction. Take a look at C. If you move clockwise, the next key is G. G is a perfect 5th above C. Every single move clockwise on the
circle of 5ths moves the key up by a perfect 5th.  You should now be familiar with the Circle of 5ths. One interesting property of the Circle of 5ths is that the primary chords appear next to each other on the Circle of 5ths. You will learn more about the Circle of 5ths in lessons to come.

A word about meter:

The most common meter is 4/4, which means that there are four beats in a measure. There’s also 3/4 (three beats in a measure), 2/4 (two beats in a measure), 5/4 (five beats in a measure – Mission: Impossible is written in 5/4), and even 6/4 (six beats in a measure). There’s also common time, another way to write 4/4 (it’s written as a C in the place of the numbers). Then there’s cut time, which is the same as 2/2. This means there are two beats in the measure – and each beat is one half note. This effectively makes the tempo twice as fast. Cut time is written as a C with a line through it.


Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites


Be sure to visit the other Bruce Bernhart Mandolin Websites:

Bruce Bernhart mandolin rock tabs

Bruce Bernhart mandolin lessons- common scales

Bruce Bernhart on buying and setting up your new mandolin

Bruce Bernhart mandolin lessons- tuning

Bruce Bernhart mandolin lessons- chord patterns

Bruce Bernhart on mandolin history and basic chord structures

Bruce Bernhart on string and saddle adjustment

Bruce Bernhart more tuning tips and whole/half steps

Bruce Bernhart on more chord patterns

Bruce Bernhart on the mandolin family

Bruce Bernhart on mandolin bluegrass chords and patterns


Bruce Bernhart on temperature considerations

Bruce Bernhart lessson on mandolin flats and sharps


Bruce Bernhart lesson on scales, circle of 5ths and meter


Bruce Bernhart on triads, gears

Bruce Bernhart mandolin chord diagrams

Bruce Bernhart on modern emergence of the mandolin

Bruce Bernhart on simple chords

Bruce Bernhart on whole and half-note steps on the mandolin

Bruce Bernhart mandolin practice excercises

Bruce Bernhart on playing waltzes


Bruce Bernhart on majors, minors and sevenths



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