Music Theory: Circle of Fifths

The circle of fifths is a diagram that illustrates a series of twelve fifths. These make it possible to modulate easily through all the keys by means of chords built on these fifths.

circle-of-fifths

Each capital letter represents a major key. Each small letter represents a minor key. In between these are the symbols to denote the key signature and how many sharps and or flats are in each key.

In major mode the circle of fifths starts with C major at the top which has no flats or sharps and is read clockwise adding one sharp to each key. Reading counterclockwise shows the flat key signatures. The sharp and flat keys meet in the middle at the bottom of the circle of fifths.

The circle of fifths can be used to transpose music, compose music, helps with analyzing chord progressions, learning key signatures and understanding the scales.