Circle of Fifths

2020-08-06 music

Circle of Fifths

Circle of Fifths


What is the Circle of Fifths and how can it be used?

How many flat or sharp notes is there in a given musical key? What exact notes are sharp and flat? How many flat and sharp chords are in a musical key? The Circle of Fifths gives answers these questions and is a tool to determine the relationship between notes in a musical key. The Circle of Fifths is for any musical instrument whether it be Guitar, Cello, Violin, Ukuele, Piano, Flute, Trumpet or any other instrument.

Circle of Fifths

Examples on how to use the Circle of Fifths

The Circle of Fifths can be used in 4 different ways. Each of these ways is used to find the sharps or flats for a Major or Minor musical Key. These 4 different combinations can be enumerated as follows:

    The 4 Basic Combinations to use the Circle of Fifths
  • Outer Circle going Clockwise around the circle gives Major Key Sharps
  • Inside Circle going Clockwise around the circle gives Minor Key Sharps
  • Outside Circle going Counter-Clockwise around the circle gives Major Key Flats
  • Inside Circle going Counter-Clockwise around the circle gives Minor Key Flats

  • With these 4 combinations, using the Circle of Fifths translates to this table:

    Outside Circle Inside Circle
    Clockwise Major Key Sharps Minor Key Sharps
    Counter-Clockwise Major Key Flats Minor Key Flats

    Rules to use the Circle of Fifths

    # Rule
    0 C Major and a Minor have no sharps or flats
    1 Major Scales are the Outer Notes/Chords in the Circle for the Key
    2 Minor Scales are the Inner Notes/Chords in the Circle for the Key
    3 Sharp notes are found by starting at the F note and going clockwise: F#,C#,G#,D#,A#,E#,B#
    4 Flat notes are found by starting at the F note and going counter-clockwise: Bb,Eb,Ab,Db,Gb,Cb,Fb
    5 The number of flats or sharps in a key are written along with the Major or Minor Key

    Example finding Sharp Notes/Chords for Major Keys in the Circle of Fifths - Outer Circle going Clockwise

    Major Key - Outer Circle Number of Sharps - Right Half of Circle Sharp Notes
    C Major 0 none
    G Major 1 F#
    D Major 2 F#,C#
    A Major 3 F#,C#,G#
    E Major 4 F#,C#,G#,D#
    B Major 5 F#,C#,G#,D#,A#
    F# Major 6 F#,C#,G#,D#,A#,E#

    Example finding Sharps Notes/Chords for Minor Keys in the Circle of Fifths - Inner Circle going Clockwise

    Minor Key - Inner Circle Number of Sharps - Right Half of Circle Sharp Notes
    a Minor 0 none
    e Minor 1 F#
    b Minor 2 F#,C#
    f# Minor 3 F#,C#,G#
    c# Minor 4 F#,C#,G#,D#
    g# Minor 5 F#,C#,G#,D#,A#
    d# Minor 6 F#,C#,G#,D#,A#,E#

    Example finding Flat Notes/Chords for Major Keys in the Circle of Fifths - Outer Circle going Counter-Clockwise

    Major Key - Outer Circle Number of Flats - Left Half of Circle Sharp Notes
    C Major 0 none
    F Major 1 Bb
    Bb Major 2 Bb,Eb
    Eb Major 3 Bb,Eb,Ab
    Ab Major 4 Bb,Eb,Ab,Db
    Db Major 5 Bb,Eb,Ab,Db,Gb
    Gb Major 6 Bb,Eb,Ab,Db,Gb,Cb
    Cb Major 7 Bb,Eb,Ab,Db,Gb,Cb,Fb

    Example finding Flat Notes/Chords for Minor Keys in the Circle of Fifths - Inner Circle going Counter-Clockwise

    Minor Key - Inner Circle Number of Flats - Left Half of Circle Sharp Notes
    a Minor 0 none
    d Minor 1 Bb
    g Minor 2 Bb,Eb
    c Minor 3 Bb,Eb,Ab
    f Minor 4 Bb,Eb,Ab,Db
    bb Minor 5 Bb,Eb,Ab,Db,Gb
    eb Minor 6 Bb,Eb,Ab,Db,Gb,Cb
    ab Minor 7 Bb,Eb,Ab,Db,Gb,Cb,Fb

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