Circle Of Fifths

This guide will teach you everything you need to know about the circle of fifths. This is a great little songwriting tool which every songwriter should get an understanding of.

And yes, it is music theory. I know music theory scares a lot of songwriters but there is no need. Music theory can be fun. It's fun because it helps you write better songs. And what songwriter doesn't like to write better songs?

So print out the diagram below and use it next time you write a song.

What is the Circle of 5ths?

The circle is a handy diagram used in music theory that helps you memorize and understand the 24 major and minor keys used in music.

How can memorizing this circle improve your songwriting?

And don't worry, it's not that hard to memorize once you understand the logic behind it.

circle of fifths

How Does the Circle of Fifths Work?

As you can see from the diagram above the circle and notes are laid out like a clock face. At the 12 o'clock position you will see 'C Major'. The key of C major is the only key that has no sharps or flats which puts it in this first position.

As you move clockwise around the circle, each key note is the fifth note of the key before it (giving the circle its name), and each key has one more sharp note, or one less flat note, than the key before it.

So what happens when the flats and sharps meet at the 6 o'clock position? Which do you call it? Well, you can call it either; this type of note is called an enharmonic note.

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