Circle of Fourths & Fifths

I recently read an interesting article about how many guitarists are comfortable in certain keys (typically C, G, D, A and E). However, when we move to another key (F or Db), we are not so sure of our chord choices.

Of course we could crank out a nice little chart to remind ourselves of the common chords for a given key…

However this article proposed a different solution.  It’s called the “circle of fourths and fifths“.

The concept this diagram attempts to communicate is the relation of the tones to one another in a given key.  Fig 1 shows the relation of one key to another.  If we move clockwise around the circle, we move a fifth for each movement.  G is a fifth from C and D is a fifth from G, etc.

If we move counterclockwise, we move a perfect fourth.  So F is a fourth from C and Bb is a fourth from F and so on.

Great! So how can we use this information?  In most songs, the I-VI-V chords are the primary chords used.  For example, the song “Mighty To Save” by Hillsong.  The entire song is I, VI, V, and VIm chords.  If you look at Fig. 2, you can see that the I chord or root is at the top, the IV is to the left of the root and the V is to the right.  Inside the circle is the related minor chords to the root.

So, if we are in the key of C, the V chord is to the right of C (a perfect fifth from C) and the IV chord is to the left of C (a perfect fourth).  And the VIm (Am) is inside the circle below the C.  If we want to change to the key of F, we can move the F to 12 o’clock and we can see that now Bb is our IV chord, C if our V chord and Dm is our VIm chord.   By spinning the circle of fourths and fifths to show the desired key at 12-o’clock position will show you the related chords for any key.

Update to Transpose Function

Hey worshipers,

Thanks so much for your feedback on Facebook about the new look transpose keys.  Based on your positive feedback we are rolling out the transpose feature as a series of buttons now instead of being tucked away in that drop down panel.  You can now transpose chord charts to a new key by simply clicking the key button.  The list of song keys appears at the top of the page under the song title and above the chord chart.

To change the key of the song, simply click the desired song key letter (or Nashvillle if you prefer the Nashville Notation format).

Print

To print a song, simply click the printer icon in the toolbar at the top and the song will retain its format and song key, but remove some of the website framework (headers, menus, etc) from the printing.

Copy-n-Paste

We also, wanted to remind everyone about the copy-n-paste feature on each song.  We still get questions from time to time about how to copy the text from songs.  The quickest and easiest way is to click the clipboard icon in the toolbar (2nd from the left, between the song info icon and print icon).  This will copy the song’s text into your computer’s clipboard so you can easily paste into Word, email, etc.

Update a Song

Did you notice a typo or chord placement error?  Please take a minute and send us update; click the “Send Correction” icon to send in your update.  We will review your update (please comment to tell us what you fixed), and if we agree with your update, you’ll receive a free month subscription.