Circle of Fifths


What is the circle of fifths chord progression?

Well, chords and tonalities have various relationships to each other. For example, the chords C, F, and G7 are all part of the key of C. They form the chords I, IV and V7. Put another way, they are the first, fourth and fifth chords in that particular key.

Another example of relationships between chords is the V – I relationship. The chord V or V7 has a pull towards its tonic or I chord. This because of the resolutions with the chord voicings. For example for  D7 to G the leading tone F# in the D7 chord resolves to G in the G chord.

You can create a string of V-I resolutions by turning the I chord to a V chord. For example Dm- G7 , G7 – C , C – F, etc. Put them in a series and you get Dm- G- C- F- etc.

The video and exercise below shows a common circle of fifths often played in jazz and latin music. Note that the F goes to B m7b5 and not Bb. Either way can work but the Bm7b5 resolves to E7 better so that you can continue the cycle.

Hope you enjoy this exercise. See more Circle of Fifths patterns in premium lessons.