Using the Cycle of Thirds Diagram

The original svg files for this image may be found here.

The original svg files for this image may be found here.

The Basics:

  • The three Minor Thirds Cycles (like C, Eb, Gb, A) are the squares.
  • The four Major Thirds Cycles (like C, E, G) are located in three note groups to the sides of center.
  • Tritones are located directly opposite each other in the same square, just like in the traditional circle of fifths or chromatic circle.
  • Perfect Fourths move inward and clockwise, Perfect Fifths move outward and counterclockwise. When you reach the outermost square you return to the innermost, and vice-vesa.
  • Whole Tone Scales are a complete vertical or horizontal line.
  • Whole-Half Diminished Scales are a square and the next square outward.
  • Half-Whole Diminished Scales are a square and the next square inward.
  • Augmented Scales are a major thirds group and the next group clockwise.
  • Inverted Augmented Scales are a major thirds group and the next group counterclockwise.
  • Messiaen’s Third Modes (what Allan Holdsworth calls “two halves and a whole”) are a major thirds group and the groups clockwise and counterclockwise.

  One Reply to “Using the Cycle of Thirds Diagram”

  1. Tim
    May 29, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Very cool – thanks for the enlightenment!

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