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6. The Circle of Fifths: Understanding Keys & Key Signatures


As we begin to move beyond the key of C, I want to talk about the big picture. I want to help you understand how our system of keys works.

And that's where the Circle of Keys, or Circle of Fifths, comes into play. Understanding it will give you the answers to questions you may not have even known how to ask.

For one thing, mastering the circle will help you to memorize key signatures -- the sharps or flats found in each key or scale. That's essential to becoming a better player.

The circle also gives you a systematic way of practicing exercises like the chord quality and inversion drill I present in a separate tutorial. It instantly clears up the matter of which keys are the most commonly used, and therefore the ones that need plenty of attention.

Then too, almost all chord progressions follow the circle of 5ths to some extent, meaning that each chord root will be a fifth apart from the next. In fact, some of the most beautiful songs and passages are based entirely on that pattern. So getting a better handle on progressions is a huge benefit you'll derive from this lesson.

Sound worthwhile? I hope so. Let's get to it.

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