Ever heard people talking about the circle of fifths and wondered what it was? Or are you familiar with it, but don't know what it does or how to use it? Well wonder no more.
The Circle of Fifths is a chart organizing all of the keys into a system that we can use to relate them to one another. There are several versions of this chart. The most common ones use only the major keys with only the chord symbols. The version below however shows the major and minor keys with their key signatures.
How Does This Work?
The letters on the outside of the circle are the major keys and the letters on the inside are minor. The circle itself shows how many sharps or flats there are in each key, and the key signatures are on the edge.
This is called the Circle of Fifths because each note is a perfect fifth away from another. A perfect fifth is the distance of 7 notes tones: A, A#, B, C, C#, D, D#, E.
When we go clockwise around the circle, we are going "up a fifth". This is also called adding a sharp (because of what it does to the key signature). When we go counter-clockwise, we are going "down a fifth". This is also called adding a flat.
(This is also called the Circle of Fourths because when we go "up a fifth", it is the same thing as going down a fourth. Also when we go "down a fifth", it is the same thing as going up a fourth.)
This is just a very brief look at the Circle. For a better understanding you should check out The Circle of Fifths Ebook.
So how is this useful?
Sample chord progression : D C G D G A D
And there we have a perfectly good sounding chord progression.
Tell us YOUR creative ideas on how to use the Circle of Fifths.
Click below to see contributions from other visitors to this page...
Use the Circle to Find NNS Chord Progressions
I have constructed a circle of numbers outside the circle of fifths. The numbers correspond with the scale notes, so that if C is at the top of the circle, …
Build a Major chord
Any two adjacent notes moving clockwise around the circle are a perfect fifth (seven semitones). If you start from the first, count four more clockwise …
Flatten It Out
From the beginning, using the circle of fifths chart was always difficult. In my mind, it was tough to picture it, manipulate it, learn from it- so I flattened …
Order of Sharps and Flats in Key Signatures
Here is how you can use the Circle of Fifths to learn the order of sharps and flats in key signatures Draw an imaginary line between F and B-flat on …
Hope this helps! Practice hard and let me know if you have any questions!