There is a new version of the circle of fifths here that does not require a flash plugin.
This is the old version of The Guitar Master’s Interactive Circle of Fifths:
The Interactive Circle of Fifths by Hamish Haughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.
If you find the circle useful, please consider making a donation to help me find the time to develop it further.
How to Use
- Click on a key name (C,D, Ab, G# etc…) to spin the circle until that key is at the top. The name in the red oval should always be the key you are interested in so make sure it is at the top. You are now working in that MAJOR key.
- Once the key you are interested in is at the top, the following statements are true:
- Note Names to the right of the dividing line are the names of the notes in this major scale.
- Note Names to the right of the dividing line including the chord types (major minor or diminished) are chords in this major key.
- The mode names in black (lydian, locrian etc…) are positioned near names of major scales required to achieve that mode for the key in question.
- The name at 3 ‘o’ clock is the relative minor (key, chord or scale) to the major key in question. It comprises all the same notes (for the scale or chord) and chords (for the key) as the major key in question.
This is possibly the most useful application of the circle. Let’s say we want to know how to play an E phrygian scale.
- Begin by clicking on “E”.
- When “E” is at the top, look for the word “phrygian” on the left hand side. This should be situated near “C”. So to play an E phrygian scale, all you actually need to do is play a C major scale. The C major scale contains an E, so playing C major but using the E as the root note, will give you an E phrygian scale.
Let’s say we want to know what the notes are in a G# major (or F minor) scale.
- Begin by clicking on G#/Ab
- When G#/Ab is at the top, all of the notes to the right of the dividing line (including the C#/Db and the G) are notes in the G# major scale. If you look to 3 ‘o’ clock, you will see F. So These same notes constitute an F minor scale. Play all these notes in alphabetical order starting from G# and you will have a G# major scale. Play the same notes in alphabetical order but starting from F, and you will have an F minor scale.
Let’s say we want to find out what chords are in the key of Gb.
- Begin by clicking on F#/Gb
- When F#/Gb is at the top, all the chord names to the right of the dividing line (including B major and F diminished) are chords in the key of Gb or F# Major. Look to 3 ‘o’ clock and you will see D#/Eb. So these same chords are in the key of D# or Eb minor.
I’ll be improving this interactive demo over time to include sound and neater graphics. If you have any comments or suggestions, please submit them vie the contacts page or sign up as a member and leave a comment for this article.
I hope you find this useful.
The Guitar Master