• Here’s an exercise that’ll get you to remember “couples” tonight

    in Theory

    In yesterday’s lesson, I talked about couples.

    The premise was basically to look at chord progressions as small little “couples.”

    (When I say “couple,” I’m specifically talking about a pair of chords… just two.)

    When you think in terms of “couples,” you focus on two things:

    1) What chord does this current one strongly pull to?

    2) What chord pulls strongly to this current one?

    This understanding is based on the circle of fifths.

    Every chord has a chord that leads strongly to it (a fourth down) —or— a chord that it strongly leads to (a fourth up).

    In other words, either something is coming at it or it’s going somewhere! I hope you get that…

    If you look at the circle above, focus on going counter-clockwise — that is, from C to F to Bb and so on. If this were a clock, you’d focus on going the direction of “12 o clock” to “11 o clock” to “10 o clock” and so on.

    This is the direction music commonly flows in! Understand this and you understand music!

    So if you look at “C,” ask yourself two questions:

    1) What does C pull strongly to?


    2) What pulls strongly to C?

    That is the idea of “coupling.” It’s my “micro” way of understanding bigger chord progression. (I actually introduced this little concept several years ago in my GospelKeys 202 course. I just thought I’d revisit it.)

    Now the answer to the above questions are found right on the circle…

    If you’re going counter-clockwise, then the answer to the question, “what does C lead to” is simple… “F” because that’s the next key on the circle. In fact, if you compare the major scales of C and F, you’ll notice only a single note difference. That’s right, they share all the same notes except for one. So the first answer is “F.” That is the key most C chords will lead to.

    To answer the second question, just look on the other side of “C.” That is the key that most likely leads to C. So the answer is G.

    Just like C has a huge tendency to lead to F — G has a strong tendency to lead to C (and if you compare their major scales, they also share all but one note).

    So here’s what I’ve done. I’ve created this little exercise below. It quizzes you on all the different keys and helps you to become quicker at answering these two “magic” questions. I’ve done the first one for you. Just put your cursor in each box and type in what you think the answer is. Once you’re done, scroll down and compare your answers with mine.

    (It’s much easier to press the “tab” button in between questions. This will make your cursor automatically go to the next box).

    Also, try using this stopwatch tool to see how long it takes you. Post your time in the comments area!

    The "What leads to" Game


    What leads to G? What leads to Db? What leads to C?
    What leads to A? What leads to A#? What leads to C#?
    What leads to D? What leads to B? What leads to E?
    What leads to F? What leads to F#? What leads to Gb?
    What leads to Ab? What leads to Bb? What leads to Eb?
    What leads to D#? What leads to G#? What leads to B#?
    What leads to Cb? What leads to D? What leads to E?
    The "What it leads to" Game


    What does D lead to? What does A lead to? What does C lead to?
    What does Bb lead to? What does Db lead to? What does E lead to?
    What does F# lead to? What does Ab lead to? What does Db lead to?
    What does E lead to? What does F lead to? What does G lead to?
    What does B lead to? What does C# lead to? What does G# lead to?
    What does E# lead to? What does Eb lead to? What does C lead to?
    What does E lead to? What does F lead to? What does G lead to?


    I will post the answers in the comment section.

    Hope this exercise helps!

    Time for some rest! I’ve only had 4 hours of sleep today due to our latest launch

    Until next time —

    The following two tabs change content below.
    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.



    { 25 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Jermaine

    Here are the answers. The ones in red are the “tricky” ones so if you got those wrong, don’t worry about it… they probably won’t come up much because E# is usually known as F (in 99.99% of the cases). But I still want you to understand enharmonic equivalents :-)…




    2 Michael Jones

    Thanks this really helped me in refamiliarizing myself with chord pulls I only missed 4


    3 Jermaine Griggs

    Good job Michael.


    4 Gavin

    Thanks Jermaine, I found that useful, although the enharmonics did trip me up! I think as you’ve said, repetition is the key… I find that excercises like this really help. Looking forward to the launch of the new training site next week, should be about 5pm here in Scotland… just in time for me coming home from work!





    6 Jermaine

    Thanks guys! How many did ya’ll miss?


    7 Eresmas

    Hey Jermaine, Nice exercise.

    I used 10.44.391 minutes.

    I got 3 wrong because of enharmonic intervals like E#, Db and F##(but they’re right in the “I just wanna play way”)

    I got everything right in the ‘what it leads to’ game.

    Thanks man.


    8 Eresmas

    Hey, by the way i used this formulae of counting 5 half steps from the given note to get to what it leads to or what led to it. I think it’s faster than going back to the circle of fifths every time to check. e.g Count 5 semitones from C to get to F (Don’t count the C).


    9 Jermaine

    @Eresmas: Good stuff!

    The only problem with counting half steps is that you are being too isolating rather than looking at the big picture. If you memorize the circle of fifths, you’ll never have to memorize it again. Then you don’t have to keep counting 5 half steps because in a real life situation, if you have to learn a song on the spot or at least play for someone, you don’t have time to count 5 half steps so this exercise is designed to get you to commit to memory these relationships. Once you do that and start analyzing songs, you will see these relationships all throughout.

    At any rate, whatever it takes to “I just wanna play.” Haha!


    10 bigbeardale

    This helps when at the keyboard.
    Play the chord in octaves with left hand thumb and little finger.
    Play the third with the 3rd finger.
    The index finger will play the 5th. This note roots the ( What leads to )

    To do the ( What it leads to )
    Play the chord the same way as above, but the chord you are looking for now, roots with the note between the third finger and the index finger. ( a 4th )

    Let me know if that is correct Jermaine.



    11 Jermaine

    Yes dale! That works great!

    Thanks for the contribution!


    12 Nicki

    Thanks Jermaine…you have a way of making light bulbs go off in my head. I’m starting to see patterns like I’ve never seen before. I loved this excercise! Thanks for the tip bigbeardale…made the exercise much easier! First time round I did both in 4:40 but got 9 wrong. Second time I did both in 4:30 and got 3 wrong. Practice makes perfect. :)





    14 Maria Lupes

    This is awesome! I love this excercise. Thanks


    15 Robert

    Hi Jermaine: I’ve got to give it to you man you know what it takes to make sweet music.Thanks a lot you are God sent.(may he forever bless you and yours).rdmr


    16 Calvin

    Master the number system, Master your scales in all 12 keys and a door will open to a myriad of possibilities .
    Thank you Jermaine,


    17 Tony

    Hey, Jermaine great exercise!! I did both straight down it took me 5:20 seconds total got 4 wrong i rushed it a little. What helps me is the majority of the scale is BEAD FLATS counter clockwise and BEAD MAJ. on the other side leading back up. Helps me remember the scale faster. Thanks Jermaine.


    18 Braun

    Nice exercise! I got them both in 00:01:35.658 but missed one (put Ab instead of Bb for leads to Eb). Thanks for posting all this stuff, Jermaine. It’s super helpful!


    19 Dimseven

    Yes! I got them all right. Used about 5 minutes (forgot to stop the clock but remembered at 6:21 minutes).. Fun exercise. But for me, easier on ‘paper’ than on keyboard.


    20 Obinna Peter

    Wow Master, i found that great and a little bit challenging try to bit the time that i set for myself. The first part took me 3minutes 37sec while the second part took 3minute totalling 6min 37seconds. I just love this. I pray that in my next try, i should be able to finish within 3min or less hahaa. Thanks once again and God bless u real good.


    21 Jermaine Griggs

    I just tried again after years of posting this exercise and it was 1:35 with 1 wrong (accidentally put that G leads to D… got mind-blocked as I clearly know it leads to C… darn it!)


    22 Joline

    Thanks Jermaine for this. I never knew bout the circle of fourths till u’ve mentioned :)

    Just wanna share with everyone another way of remembering (hope its helpful in some way) I used this method of memorising.

    from counter clockwise direction:
    the number of flats of each scale increases by 1.
    flats- ti, mi, la, re, so, do, fa
    eg. C maj- no flats
    F maj- 1 flats (Bb)
    Bb maj- 2 flats (Bb, Eb)
    Eb maj- 3 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab)
    Ab maj- 4 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab, Db)
    Db maj- 5 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab, Dd, Gb)
    Gb maj- 6 flats (Bb, Eb, Ab, Dd, Gb, Db)

    and from Gb onwards, the number of sharps of each scale decreases by 1
    sharps- fa, do, so, re, la, me, ti
    eg. B maj- 5 sharps (F#, C#, G#, D# A#)
    E maj- 4 sharps (F#, C#, G#, D#)
    A maj- 3 sharps (F#, C#, G#)
    D maj- 2 sharps (F#, C#)
    G maj- 1 sharp (F#)
    C maj- none


    23 Norberto Maree

    I visited a lot of website but I conceive this one has something special in it. “I don’t know if God exists, but it would be better for His reputation if He didn’t.” by Jules Renard.


    24 Tama Coolidge



    25 Braz

    Waw. It is a fantastic lesson. Thank you very much for sending me these wonderful things.

    Braz Alberto


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