"The Circle of Fifths Cheat Sheet - Easy Eartraining"

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The Circle of Fifths
Once you start to hear I-IV-V chord progressions by ear, there’s one
extra step you’ll need to play them on your instrument:
Knowing what the I, IV and V chords are in any particular key.
The “Circle of Fifths” is a diagram which helps you work it out.
Each letter around the circle clockwise is a
C
fifth above the previous one.
F
G
Each letter around the circle counter-
clockwise is a fourth above the previous
A#
D
The
one.
(B♭)
Remember that the IV and V chords are the
Circle
ones which are a fourth and a fifth above the
D#
A
root (key) note.
Of
(E♭)
So to work out the I, IV and V chords for
Fifths
a key, locate the key on the circle and see
which chords come immediately before
G#
E
and after it on the circle.
(A♭)
Example: If you’re in the the key of G, locate
C#
B
G on the circle. Then look one letter counter-
F#
clockwise to find that the IV chord is C. Look
(D♭)
one letter clockwise to find that the V chord
(G♭)
is D. That’s it!
How to memorise the circle fast
When you first encounter the circle of fifths it can seem overwhelming.
Here’s an easy 2-step process for memorising it fast:
1. Notice that it repeats. The left hand side (F#→A#) is just a repetition of the
right hand side (F→B), adding sharps/flats.
2. Memorise this 7-letter sequence: F, C, G, D, A, E, B.
Recite that sequence several times a day for a few days and you’ll never forget it.
It sort of rhymes - can you make up a way to sing it?
Then use the repetition rule to remember that after the “B”, you just say it again
with sharps.
Now when you need to work out the chords for a I-IV-V just think of the key’s letter
in that sequence and which letters come immediately before and after it.
The Circle of Fifths
Once you start to hear I-IV-V chord progressions by ear, there’s one
extra step you’ll need to play them on your instrument:
Knowing what the I, IV and V chords are in any particular key.
The “Circle of Fifths” is a diagram which helps you work it out.
Each letter around the circle clockwise is a
C
fifth above the previous one.
F
G
Each letter around the circle counter-
clockwise is a fourth above the previous
A#
D
The
one.
(B♭)
Remember that the IV and V chords are the
Circle
ones which are a fourth and a fifth above the
D#
A
root (key) note.
Of
(E♭)
So to work out the I, IV and V chords for
Fifths
a key, locate the key on the circle and see
which chords come immediately before
G#
E
and after it on the circle.
(A♭)
Example: If you’re in the the key of G, locate
C#
B
G on the circle. Then look one letter counter-
F#
clockwise to find that the IV chord is C. Look
(D♭)
one letter clockwise to find that the V chord
(G♭)
is D. That’s it!
How to memorise the circle fast
When you first encounter the circle of fifths it can seem overwhelming.
Here’s an easy 2-step process for memorising it fast:
1. Notice that it repeats. The left hand side (F#→A#) is just a repetition of the
right hand side (F→B), adding sharps/flats.
2. Memorise this 7-letter sequence: F, C, G, D, A, E, B.
Recite that sequence several times a day for a few days and you’ll never forget it.
It sort of rhymes - can you make up a way to sing it?
Then use the repetition rule to remember that after the “B”, you just say it again
with sharps.
Now when you need to work out the chords for a I-IV-V just think of the key’s letter
in that sequence and which letters come immediately before and after it.