Cycle of Fifths

Taming The Saxophone vol 3

Patterns, scales & licks for intermediate to advanced players. Examples in this section
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Before practising these, make sure you are familiar with the theory behind the cycle of fifths. The cycle is an immensely important concept in chord progression based jazz improvisation and crops up in many tunes, whether it’s a simple turnaround or extended bridge pattern


This exercise is very basic, it takes you through the cycle of fifths using triad arpeggios. As it is based on pairs of triads (up a fourth, down a tone, up a fourth, down a tone etc.), the exercise repeats with the second of each pair starting the pattern. One thing you will notice about the cycle of 5ths is that pairs move downwards in whole tone steps. As you know, up a fourth goes to the same chord as down a fifth.

Ex 3.01

cycle of 5ths exercises 3.1

Ex 3.02

cycle of 5ths exercises 3.2

Ex 3.03

cycle of 5ths exercises 3.3

Ex 3.04 (Cycle of dominants)

This one is particularly good for the voice leading, note how the last note of each four not pattern is the 7th of the chord resolving nicely down a semitone to the 3rd of the next chord.

cycle of 5ths exercises 3.4

Cycle of Fifths
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