• FINALLY CRACKED! How (and why) to use the circle of fifths to learn every chord in ALL 12 keys…

    in Playing By Ear,Theory,Transposing Keys

    >NOTE: To learn ALL the techniques and strategies to take your playing to the next level, go here:


    Wow, what can I say…

    I think I’ve started something here…

    The last few weeks, I’ve been trying out a new format by taking really good questions from students and not only answering them personally, but sending them to our entire mailing list.

    This has resulted in a lot of love — and even MORE questions from dedicated students all around the world. I’ve received at least a good couple hundred questions that could easily keep me busy sending responses like this for years…

    But here’s one that made the top of the list. I think you’ll really be helped by my reply to Tyler. It’s long but packed with details. About 5 lessons in one.

    PRINT THIS OUT because it really is *that* important.


    ***Comment From Tyler N***

    Hi Jermaine,

    Dude, you are incredible. Your knowledge of theory is on another planet. Thanks for what you do man, for real.

    I’m trying to learn all 12 keys and I happen to be a member of the Gospel Music Training Center where you talked about using the circle of fifths to learn every key.

    I do know the circle of fifths but I don’t think I totally understand how to use it to learn every key. Do you mind shedding some light on this in the next Q&A teleclass?

    Again, thanks man. Tell JP and all the staff they are doing an awesome job.



    >>> My Comments and explanations to Tyler (Lots of good info… read carefully)

    Yo Tyler!

    Thanks for the e-mail! Glad to hear you’re enjoying the material!

    I believe you’re referring to our last Gospel Music Training Call that just past, where Jon and I talked about the circle of fifths and how it can help you to learn any song in all 12 keys…

    I can definitely help you with that.

    But before we delve in, let’s back up a bit and talk about the ‘circle of fifths’ concept itself.

    The circle of fifths is a very powerful discovery in music because it pretty much describes HOW MUSIC WORKS in one simple chart.

    If you want to see an example of the circle, here’s an example: http://www.musiccirclechart.com

    You see, music moves in fifths and fourths. And if you really think about it, there’s a fine line between “fifths” and “fourths.” (that’s why you hear some people calling it the “circle of fifths” and other folks calling it the “circle of fourths.” Let me demystify this first.

    Both names are correct. Here’s why:

    If I ask you to go up a fourth interval, that essentially means to move up 5 half steps from whatever note you’re on. (There are many ways to think about it but this is the most straightforward…)

    And for folks that don’t know what half steps are, remember this poem:

    “Half steps are from key to key with no keys in between, Whole steps always skip a key with one key in between.”

    So basically, if you’re going from one key directly up or down to the key directly next door, that’s a half step. Doesn’t matter if it’s a white key, a black key, a purple key, a broken key (some of you haven’t fixed your piano in years)… if it goes from one key right next door, it’s a half step. [C to C#], [E to F], [G to Ab], [Bb to B]… all of these pairs are half steps. [C to D], [E to F#], [Ab to Bb]… these are whole steps because they are skipping one key. Easy.

    Back to fourths. So if I start on C and want to go up a fourth, I simply count 5 half steps up…

    C to Db is 1 half step… Db to D is another… D to Eb is the 3rd half step, Eb to E is 4, and finally E to F. So “C” to “F” is a fourth.

    Now, on the other hand, a fifth uses 7 half steps. So if you do the same thing starting at C — except, this time using 7 half steps — you’ll arrive at G.

    So “C” to “G” is a fifth.

    “C” UP to “F” is a fourth. “C” UP to “G” is a fifth.

    Here’s the tricky part. Notice I used the word “UP” because if you count the same number of half steps down, you’ll get different answers.

    If you count 5 half steps DOWN from C, you’ll get G. And if you count 7 half steps DOWN from the same C, you’ll get F.

    In other words, C up to F is a fourth. C down to F is a fifth.

    And in the same way, C up to G is a fifth but C down to G is a fourth.

    Basically, they are ‘inverses’ of each other. Opposites. One does one thing going up and another going down. The other does the exact opposite.

    Any time you take a fourth interval and “flip” it, you’ll get a fifth. If you do the same to a fifth, you’ll get a fourth.

    Try it. Hold down C and the higher G together. That’s a fifth. C is the lowest note and there are 7 half steps between C and G. But if you take the C off the bottom and put it on the top (and now “G” on the bottom), now you’ve got yourself a fourth interval. Just that easy.

    Oh and I should add… these are called “PERFECT 4ths” and “PERFECT 5ths.” Sometimes, for short, folks leave off the “perfect” part but if you want to be very specific, add that.

    Why did I choose to tell you all this?

    Because, there are two ways to look at the circle of fifths chart. Go to http://www.musiccirclechart.com and print it out…

    If you thought of this circle as a clock, “C” would be at 12 o’ clock.

    G is at 1 o’ clock. D is at 2 o’ clock.

    Get it?

    That means on the other side, F is at 11 o’ clock, Bb is at 10 o’ clock, Eb is at 9 o’ clock and so forth…

    And like I said, there are 2 ways to look at this circle. You can look at it going clockwise from C to G to D to A… and so forth.

    Or you can look at this chart going counter-clockwise, from C to F to Bb to Eb… and so forth.

    Some people say when you go counter-clockwise from C to F to Bb to Eb… that you’re going in “fourths.” But, of course, now you know better. You’re going in fourths only if you’re looking at this as going UP from C to F. And UP from F to Bb… and UP from Bb to Eb.

    But as you just learned, going from C down to F is a fifth too! That’s why some people still choose to look at this WHOLE circle as a relationship of fifths because if you go clockwise, C up to G is a fifth. And if you go counter-clockwise, C down to F is also a fifth.

    Put another way, “G” is the fifth of C. And “C” is the fifth of “F” — and so on.

    But either way, here’s the golden nugget.

    Go counter-clockwise! This is the flow of music. This is how 80% of songs move.

    What do I mean?


    If you analyze the chord patterns of songs, you’ll find them moving like this:

    Some kinda “C” chord to some kinda “F” chord to some kinda “Bb” chord to some kinda “Eb” chord, depending on the key you’re in.

    If you’re in a key like “G” major, you’ll find the same counter-clockwise movement at work — just at the other end of the circle with chords moving from some kind of “A” chord to some kind of “D” chord to some kind of “G” chord to some kind of “C” chord (just to give an example).

    I say “some kind of chord” because depending on your key, some chords will be major, some minor, some dominant, some diminished, etc… and we really don’t have time to talk about that right here. Easily another 5 pages if I go there.

    So the circle really explains the flow of music.

    Ever heard of a “2-5-1” progression? Guess what? Highlight any 3 notes on the circle that are neighbors and there are the keynotes of your “2-5-1” progression! BAM!

    Don’t believe me? What’s a 2-5-1 progression in the key of C? Well, the 2 is “D”… the 5 is “G” and the 1 is “C.” Where do those notes just “happen” to appear on the circle of fifths chart?

    D is at 2 o clock. G is at 1 o clock. C is at 12 o clock. Counter-clockwise! Neighbors too!

    Like pulling back time (ever wish you could pull back time, counter-clockwise???) Lol, get out of the past!!!!!!!!!!!! Except in music, that is! Cuz moving against the clock, when it comes to the circle, is how you will find most of your songs arranged. Counter-clockwise…

    EXERCISE: Take songs you already know and compare them to the circle of fifths. For example, if the song you know goes from C major to A minor to D minor to G major to C major, then compare where those notes C, A, D, G, C appear on the circle and the type of movement you notice.

    So, here’s the entire circle but in a counter-clockwise arrangement:

    C > F > Bb > Eb > Ab > Db > Gb > B > E > A > D > G (repeat)


    Memorize it, chunk it, tape it to your dashboard. If you can say this in one breath really fast, you won’t believe how helpful it can be to you.

    Why? Because all songs move in this direction. You can literally highlight any 3 or 4 notes straight off this circle and find many chord progressions that use those same exact notes in the same exact order. You can find entire songs using this order of notes… and just repeating over and over. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    And since chords and patterns move like this, it makes sense to learn and practice chords in this same order. When you learn chords in this order, you further reinforce the circle.

    Plus, when it comes time to play real songs that move in fourths anyway, you’ve already done it so much in your own practicing so it’s not that hard to apply it when needed.

    (Oh, by the way, I’ve been saying ‘circle of fifths’ AND ‘circle of fourths’ up until this point. But now, I’m going to choose to call this “fourths” since most people consider C to F a fourth, unless you tell them C “DOWN” to F. But from now on, to keep things consistent, I will mainly say FOURTHS to represent the counter-clockwise direction of the circle.)

    I realize this could still be over some folks’ head so let me break it down. (My fingers are getting tired but I’ll keep going, as long as you’ll keep reading)…

    You can either learn chords by fourths like I’m advocating, or you can learn them chromatically in half steps.

    Let’s talk about the latter method first.

    To learn chords chromatically means to master chords one half-step at a time. In other words, you learn a “C” major chord first, then you take every note up a half step to learn the “C#” or “Db” major chord. Then once you learn that chord, you take every note of your chord up another half step to learn the “D” major chord. And so on…

    In real life, this looks like this:

    CHORD = G + B + C + E (which is a C major 7 chord in 2nd inversion by the way).

    Say I wanted to learn this chord chromatically. All I gotta do is take every finger up a half step and that will give me the SAME chord in the next key up.

    A half step up from C is Db so by taking EVERY tone of the chord up a half step, I’m essentially learning that SAME chord in the key a half step up. Looks like a duck, quacks like a duck… it’s a duck.

    So let’s do it…

    G + B + C + E.

    Move G up a half step to Ab.

    Move B up a half step to C.

    Move C up a half step up to Db.

    Move E a half step up to F.

    The new chord is Ab + C + Db + F. And since the old chord was a “major 7” chord in 2nd inversion, that means THIS IS ALSO A MAJOR 7 CHORD IN 2ND INVERSION.

    Nothing changes about the quality or quantity of the chord. If it’s major, the quality will be the same. If it’s a seventh, the quantity will also be the same. So, if the first chord was a C major 7, this new chord up a half step is simply a Db major 7. Got it?

    So you could essentially learn every chord this way. It’s the easiest because it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to move every finger up one note. But it’s limiting because music doesn’t move chromatically like that. I mean it CAN, but it isn’t commonplace like fourths and fifths.

    FOURTHS and FIFTHS are everywhere. They are the most common movement.

    So remember the circle of fifths order I told you to memorize?

    C > F > Bb > Eb > Ab > Db > Gb > B > E > A > D > G (repeat)

    If you want to really get the “flow of music,” learn chords in fourths and also practice them in fourths.

    Let’s take this same example:

    G + B + C + E.

    This is a C major 7 chord in 2nd inversion. If I were taking my own advice and learning this same chord in fourths, I would seek to learn an “F major 7” chord next…

    Why? Because it’s a fourth up from C when using the circle order above.

    So it’s simple… let’s take each of these notes and determine what’s a fourth up from each one.

    G + B + C + E.

    This is easy because a fourth up is whatever note is “NEXT” in the circle. Just do this with EACH note.

    A fourth up from “G” is “C” A fourth up from “B” is “E” A fourth up from “C” is “F” A fourth up from “E” is “A”

    We’ve just learned the F major 7 chord by taking each note up a fourth.

    So essentially, the same circle we use to play chord patterns is the same circle we use to learn CHORDS. That’s why I said to do whatever it takes to memorize the circle. These shortcuts are everywhere.

    C + E + F + A is an F major 7 chord in 2nd inversion.

    (for my beginners, yes, I know C is on the bottom but when you invert a chord, you basically change the order of notes.)

    This same chord is F + A + C + E in the normal “root” inversion. If you take the “F” off the bottom and put it on the top, you get “A + C + E + F,” which is 1st inversion. If you then take the “A” off the bottom and put it on the top, you get “C + E + F + A,” which is 2nd inversion — the one we just learned.

    So here’s your homework.

    Take these chords below and learn them in fourths using the same steps I took above. You can also start all over and learn them chromatically too but the real “connection” comes in learning them in fourths.

    C major = C + E + G

    C major 7 = C + E + G + B

    C minor = C + Eb + G

    C minor 7 = C + Eb + G + Bb

    EXTRA CREDIT: Invert the chords by taking the current note off the bottom and putting it on the top. Do this again to get the next inversion. If the chord has 4 notes, do this AGAIN to get the final inversion.

    Post your answers below as a comment.

    Again, you’re taking all 4 chords above and learning each one in all 12 keys USING the circle I talked about above. If you can’t do this, you need to print out this lesson and re-read it. This will result in you knowing 48 chords by the end of this exercise. If you’re serious, you’ll do it. If you get this one concept, you’ll skip at least 6-8 months worth of lessons… and that’s only if your teacher knows how important the circle is to playing BY EAR. Sight readers use this to figure out key signatures and ‘sharps & flats’ but all that stuff is NOTHING compared to the real value of the circle. The real value of the circle involves patterns, song movement, and stuff like that, if you’re an “ear” player.

    If you want to get a real good introduction to all this, my $17 course is a steal. If you’re a reader, you have everything here. I sure didn’t hold back. If I wanted to hold back, I would have stopped 4 pages ago. The $17 starter course just takes it further by giving you 2 hours of instruction in my own voice with live demonstrations and examples.

    So if my written words are cool for you, then I can promise you my voice is easily 3 times better. And at $17, you have nothing to lose. Check it out at:


    If you were a bit helped by the words I’ve written here, then this audio course will REALLY be helpful because you’ll hear me talking about all this stuff for 2 whole hours, reinforcing every little concept over and over. You’ll like it.

    Go to:


    (You can even get the downloadable digital version and start learning right away).

    Talk soon,


    P.S. – Got questions? Comment below and I’ll answer right away:

    P.P.S – If your budget allows, my 300pg course is your next best bet. It has 20 chapters, tons of exercises, and covers everything, step by step:


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    Hi, I'm Jermaine Griggs, founder of this site. We teach people how to express themselves through the language of music. Just as you talk and listen freely, music can be enjoyed and played in the same way... if you know the rules of the "language!" I started this site at 17 years old in August 2000 and more than a decade later, we've helped literally millions of musicians along the way. Enjoy!

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.


    { 43 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 Oludare

    Root Inversion
    1 + 3 + 5 +
    1 + 3 + 5 + 7
    1 + b3 + 5 +
    1 + b3 + 5 + b7

    C Major C + E + G +
    C Major 7 C + E + G + B
    C Minor C + Eb + G +
    C Minor 7 C + Eb + G + Bb

    F Major F + A + C +
    F Major 7 F + A + C + E
    F Minor F + Ab + C +
    F Minor 7 F + Ab + C + Eb

    Bb Major Bb + D + F +
    Bb Major 7 Bb + D + F + A
    Bb Minor Bb + Db + F +
    Bb Minor 7 Bb + Db + F + Ab

    Eb Major Eb + G + Bb +
    Eb Major 7 Eb + G + Bb + D
    Eb Minor Eb + Gb + Bb +
    Eb Minor 7 Eb + Gb + Bb + Db

    Ab Major Ab + C + Eb +
    Ab Major 7 Ab + C + Eb + G
    Ab Minor Ab + Cb (B) + Eb +
    Ab Minor 7 Ab + Cb (B) + Eb + Gb

    Db Major Db + F + Ab +
    Db Major 7 Db + F + Ab + C
    Db Minor Db + Fb (E) + Ab +
    Db Minor 7 Db + Fb (E) + Ab + Cb (B)

    Gb Major Gb + Bb + Db +
    Gb Major 7 Gb + Bb + Db + F
    Gb Minor Gb + Bbb (A) + Db +
    Gb Minor 7 Gb + Bbb (A) + Db + Fb (E)

    B Major B + D# + F# +
    B Major 7 B + D# + F# + A#
    B Minor B + D + F# +
    B Minor 7 B + D + F# + A

    E Major E + G# + B +
    E Major 7 E + G# + B + D#
    E Minor E + G + B +
    E Minor 7 E + G + B + D

    A Major A + C# + E +
    A Major 7 A + C# + E + G#
    A Minor A + C + E +
    A Minor 7 A + C + E + G

    D Major D + F# + A +
    D Major 7 D + F# + A + C#
    D Minor D + F + A +
    D Minor 7 D + F + A + C

    G Major G + B + D +
    G Major 7 G + B + D + F#
    G Minor G + Bb + D +
    G Minor 7 G + Bb + D + F

    First Inversion
    3 + 5 + + 1
    3 + 5 + 7 + 1
    b3 + 5 + + 1
    b3 + 5 + b7 + 1

    C Major E + G + + C
    C Major 7 E + G + B + C
    C Minor Eb + G + + C
    C Minor 7 Eb + G + Bb + C

    F Major A + C + + F
    F Major 7 A + C + E + F
    F Minor Ab + C + + F
    F Minor 7 Ab + C + Eb + F

    Bb Major D + F + + Bb
    Bb Major 7 D + F + A + Bb
    Bb Minor Db + F + + Bb
    Bb Minor 7 Db + F + Ab + Bb

    Eb Major G + Bb + + Eb
    Eb Major 7 G + Bb + D + Eb
    Eb Minor Gb + Bb + + Eb
    Eb Minor 7 Gb + Bb + Db + Eb

    Ab Major C + Eb + + Ab
    Ab Major 7 C + Eb + G + Ab
    Ab Minor Cb (B) + Eb + + Ab
    Ab Minor 7 Cb (B) + Eb + Gb + Ab

    Db Major F + Ab + + Db
    Db Major 7 F + Ab + C + Db
    Db Minor Fb (E) + Ab + + Db
    Db Minor 7 Fb (E) + Ab + Cb (B) + Db

    Gb Major Bb + Db + + Gb
    Gb Major 7 Bb + Db + F + Gb
    Gb Minor Bbb (A) + Db + + Gb
    Gb Minor 7 Bbb (A) + Db + Fb (E) + Gb

    B Major D# + F# + + B
    B Major 7 D# + F# + A# + B
    B Minor D + F# + + B
    B Minor 7 D + F# + A + B

    E Major G# + B + + E
    E Major 7 G# + B + D# + E
    E Minor G + B + + E
    E Minor 7 G + B + D + E

    A Major C# + E + + A
    A Major 7 C# + E + G# + A
    A Minor C + E + + A
    A Minor 7 C + E + G + A

    D Major F# + A + + D
    D Major 7 F# + A + C# + D
    D Minor F + A + + D
    D Minor 7 F + A + C + D

    G Major B + D + + G
    G Major 7 B + D + F# + G
    G Minor Bb + D + + G
    G Minor 7 Bb + D + F + G

    Second Inversion
    5 + + 1 + 3
    5 + 7 + 1 + 3
    5 + + 1 + b3
    5 + b7 + 1 + b3

    C Major G + + C + E
    C Major 7 G + B + C + E
    C Minor G + + C + Eb
    C Minor 7 G + Bb + C + Eb

    F Major C + + F + A
    F Major 7 C + E + F + A
    F Minor C + + F + Ab
    F Minor 7 C + Eb + F + Ab

    Bb Major F + + Bb + D
    Bb Major 7 F + A + Bb + D
    Bb Minor F + + Bb + Db
    Bb Minor 7 F + Ab + Bb + Db

    Eb Major Bb + + Eb + G
    Eb Major 7 Bb + D + Eb + G
    Eb Minor Bb + + Eb + Gb
    Eb Minor 7 Bb + Db + Eb + Gb

    Ab Major Eb + + Ab + C
    Ab Major 7 Eb + G + Ab + C
    Ab Minor Eb + + Ab + Cb (B)
    Ab Minor 7 Eb + Gb + Ab + Cb (B)

    Db Major Ab + + Db + F
    Db Major 7 Ab + C + Db + F
    Db Minor Ab + + Db + Fb (E)
    Db Minor 7 Ab + Cb (B) + Db + Fb (E)

    Gb Major Db + + Gb + Bb
    Gb Major 7 Db + F + Gb + Bb
    Gb Minor Db + + Gb + Bbb (A)
    Gb Minor 7 Db + Fb (E) + Gb + Bbb (A)

    B Major F# + + B + D#
    B Major 7 F# + A# + B + D#
    B Minor F# + + B + D
    B Minor 7 F# + A + B + D

    E Major B + + E + G#
    E Major 7 B + D# + E + G#
    E Minor B + + E + G
    E Minor 7 B + D + E + G

    A Major E + + A + C#
    A Major 7 E + G# + A + C#
    A Minor E + + A + C
    A Minor 7 E + G + A + C

    D Major A + + D + F#
    D Major 7 A + C# + D + F#
    D Minor A + + D + F
    D Minor 7 A + C + D + F

    G Major D + + G + B
    G Major 7 D + F# + G + B
    G Minor D + + G + Bb
    G Minor 7 D + F + G + Bb

    Third Inversion
    1 + 3 + 5
    7 + 1 + 3 + 5
    1 + b3 + 5
    b7 + 1 + b3 + 5

    C Major C + E + G
    C Major 7 B + C + E + G
    C Minor C + Eb + G
    C Minor 7 Bb + C + Eb + G

    F Major F + A + C
    F Major 7 E + F + A + C
    F Minor F + Ab + C
    F Minor 7 Eb + F + Ab + C

    Bb Major Bb + D + F
    Bb Major 7 A + Bb + D + F
    Bb Minor Bb + Db + F
    Bb Minor 7 Ab + Bb + Db + F

    Eb Major Eb + G + Bb
    Eb Major 7 D + Eb + G + Bb
    Eb Minor Eb + Gb + Bb
    Eb Minor 7 Db + Eb + Gb + Bb

    Ab Major Ab + C + Eb
    Ab Major 7 G + Ab + C + Eb
    Ab Minor Ab + Cb (B) + Eb
    Ab Minor 7 Gb + Ab + Cb (B) + Eb

    Db Major Db + F + Ab
    Db Major 7 C + Db + F + Ab
    Db Minor Db + Fb (E) + Ab
    Db Minor 7 Cb (B) + Db + Fb (E) + Ab

    Gb Major Gb + Bb + Db
    Gb Major 7 F + Gb + Bb + Db
    Gb Minor Gb + Bbb (A) + Db
    Gb Minor 7 Fb (E) + Gb + Bbb (A) + Db

    B Major B + D# + F#
    B Major 7 A# + B + D# + F#
    B Minor B + D + F#
    B Minor 7 A + B + D + F#

    E Major E + G# + B
    E Major 7 D# + E + G# + B
    E Minor E + G + B
    E Minor 7 D + E + G + B

    A Major A + C# + E
    A Major 7 G# + A + C# + E
    A Minor A + C + E
    A Minor 7 G + A + C + E

    D Major D + F# + A
    D Major 7 C# + D + F# + A
    D Minor D + F + A
    D Minor 7 C + D + F + A

    G Major G + B + D
    G Major 7 F# + G + B + D
    G Minor G + Bb + D
    G Minor 7 F + G + Bb + D

    Lot of work but it was worth it.
    I hope I am correct about the double flats (like in diminished 7th chords). There was no better way of representing a flattened flatted note without disrupting the note system rule (not really sure about the terminology – but the idea is that all letters should be represented in the scale of any key). I heard that somewhere in one of the beginners videos – I think


    2 Stev

    Wao!oludare that great.pls am a beginer.how do i get ur assistance.pls i need materials on dis.i wil be grateful if i get ur response.dis my email(adeyemi.stev@yahoo.com)08185203951.thanks


    3 Phelelani

    Hi Jarmaine

    Thanks alot man for the powerful information you are sharing with us. You are really opening our understanding not only of piano but of music.

    I have been wishing to ask a question about how do you choose which extended chord to play say you are moving from 1major to a 3minor. I really don’t understand why you sometimes play 7(#5,#9) on the 3. In short how do you choose an extention to add on a particular chord?


    4 Cassandra

    Hi Jermain: I have completed the homework-I knew that it would be a learning experience for me. Thanks for challenging us. I do realize that the Major Keys of B,E,A,D,G,


    5 Cassandra

    Hi Jermain: I have completed the homework-I knew that it would be a learning experience for me. Thanks for challenging us. I do realize that the Major Keys of B,E,A,D,G, all use Sharps (#) for notation instead of Flats (b) – However, using Flats helped me learn the Circle of 4ths easier. Is this a major ‘no-no’ to use flats when you know they are sharps? Will this set me up for failure/confusion later? Thanks for your help. Homework below:

    KEY MAJOR CHORDS-(Circle of 4ths)

    C C-E-G
    F F-A-C
    Bb Bb-D-F
    Eb Eb-G-Bb
    Ab Ab-C-Eb
    Db Db-F-Ab
    Gb Gb-Bb-Db
    B B-Eb-Gb
    E E-Ab-B
    A A-Db-E
    D D-Gb-A
    G G-B-D


    C E-G-C
    F A-C-F
    Bb D-F-Bb
    Eb G-Bb-Eb
    Ab C-Eb-Ab
    Db F-Ab-Db
    Gb Bb-Db-Gb
    B Eb-Gb-B
    E Ab-B-E
    A Db-E-A
    D Gb-A-D
    G B-D-G


    C G-C-E
    F C-F-A
    Bb F-Bb-D
    Eb Bb-Eb-G
    Ab Eb-Ab-C
    Db Ab-Db-F
    Gb Db-Gb-Bb
    B Gb-B-Eb
    E B-E-Ab
    A E-A-Db
    D A-D-Gb
    G D-G-B


    C C-E-G-B
    F F-A-C-E
    Bb Bb-D-F-A
    Eb Eb-G-Bb-D
    Ab Ab-C-Eb-G
    Db Db-F-Ab-C
    Gb Gb-Bb-Db-F
    B B-Eb-Gb-Bb
    E E-Ab-B-Eb
    A A-Db-E-Ab
    D D-Gb-A-Db
    G G-B-D-Gb


    C E-G-B-C
    F A-C-E-F
    Bb D-F-A-Bb
    Eb G-Bb-D-Eb
    Ab C-Eb-G-Ab
    Db F-Ab-C-Db
    Gb Bb-Db-F-Gb
    B Eb-Gb-Bb-B
    E Ab-B-Eb-E
    A Db-E-Ab-A
    D Gb-A-Db-D
    G B-D-Gb-G


    C G-B-C-E
    F C-E-F-A
    Bb F-A-Bb-D
    Eb Bb-D-Eb-G
    Ab Eb-G-Ab-C
    Db Ab-C-Db-F
    Gb Db-F-Gb-Bb
    B Gb-Bb-B-Eb
    E B-Eb-E-Ab
    A E-Ab-A-Db
    D A-Db-D-Gb
    G D-Gb-G-B


    C B-C-E-G
    F E-F-A-C
    Bb A-Bb-D-F
    Eb D-Eb-G-Bb
    Ab G-Ab-C-Eb
    Db C-Db-F-Ab
    Gb F-Gb-Bb-Db
    B Bb-B-Eb-Gb
    E Eb-E-Ab-B
    A Ab-A-Db-E
    D Db-D-Gb-A
    G Gb-G-B-D


    C C-Eb-G
    F F-Ab-C
    Bb Bb-Db-F
    Eb Eb-Gb-Bb
    Ab Ab-B-Eb
    Db Db-E-Ab
    Gb Gb-A-Db
    B B-D-Gb
    E E-G-B
    A A-C-E
    D D-F-A
    G G-Bb-D


    C Eb-G-C
    F Ab-C-F
    Bb Db-F-Bb
    Eb Gb-Bb-Eb
    Ab B-Eb-Ab
    Db E-Ab-Db
    Gb A-Db-Gb
    B D-Gb-B
    E G-B-E
    A C-E-A
    D F-A-D
    G Bb-D-G


    C G-C-Eb
    F C-F-Ab
    Bb F-Bb-Db
    Eb Bb-Eb-Gb
    Ab Eb-Ab-B
    Db Ab-Db-E
    Gb Db-Gb-A
    B Gb-B-D
    E B-E-G
    A E-A-C
    D A-D-F
    G D-G-Bb


    C C-Eb-G-Bb
    F F-Ab-C-Eb
    Bb Bb-Db-F-Ab
    Eb Eb-Gb-Bb-Db
    Ab Ab-B-Eb-Gb
    Db Db-E-Ab-B
    Gb Gb-A-Db-E
    B B-D-Gb-A
    E E-G-B-D
    A A-C-E-G
    D D-F-A-C
    G G-Bb-D-F


    C Eb-G-Bb-C
    F Ab-C-Eb-F
    Bb Db-F-Ab-Bb
    Eb Gb-Bb-Db-Eb
    Ab B-Eb-Gb-Ab
    Db E-Ab-B-Db
    Gb A-Db-E-Gb
    B D-Gb-A-B
    E G-B-D-E
    A C-E-G-A
    D F-A-C-D
    G Bb-D-F-G


    C G-Bb-C-Eb
    F C-Eb-F-Ab
    Bb F-Ab-Bb-Db
    Eb Bb-Db-Eb-Gb
    Ab Eb-Gb-Ab-B
    Db Ab-B-Db-E
    Gb Db-E-Gb-A
    B Gb-A-B-D
    E B-D-E-G
    A E-G-A-C
    D A-C-D-F
    G D-F-G-Bb


    C Bb-C-Eb-G
    F Eb-F-Ab-C
    Bb Ab-Bb-Db-F
    Eb Db-Eb-Gb-Bb
    Ab Gb-Ab-B-Eb
    Db B-Db-E-Ab
    Gb E-Gb-A-Db
    B A-B-D-Gb
    E D-E-G-B
    A G-A-C-E
    D C-D-F-A
    G F-G-Bb-D


    6 Jermaine

    @Oludare and @Cassandra — wow, you guys are amazing! Action-takers! I know it was a lot of work but understanding chords in this order is well worth it when it comes to playing by ear and playing real songs… that you’ll notice move in this same direction, mix matching major, minor, diminished, dominant chords, and such. Way to go!

    @Cassandra — you’ll want to stay consistent with whatever the key uses. If the key uses sharps, then you’ll use sharps. If the key uses flats, the same applies. It’s just a “mental switch” you must make. It’s still moving in fourths/fifths. What some people do is at Gb/F#, the “middle point” of the circle, they write out BOTH Gb and F#… but they think in terms of F# to bridge over to the sharp side. From there, it’s 4ths just like normal.

    @Phelelani — thanks for the wonderful comments! to answer your question, usually the melody of the song will dictate the chord used. If you’re in the key of C major, and looking for a minor chord to play on the 3rd tone of the scale (because your ear or knowledge of common patterns has dictated the chord is on the 3rd tone) and the melody is “A”… that means u need some E chord that puts A on top. Because the chord should fall on the 3rd tone of the scale, theory tells us we can try some type of minor chord first because that is what naturally happens on the 3rd tone (but not always). But what E minor chord puts A on top? Not a regular E minor triad (E G B). We need to get into extended chords. The answer is Eminor 11 (E G B D F A). This may not be THE chord used but it would be at the top of the list of chords to try. Playing by ear is about trial and error. But having educated options to go to and knowing the reason they are available to you is key! As for altered chords, same thing. Most altered chords used in gospel are dominant with some kind of sharped or flatted 9… and/or flatted 5. Just very common from experience. So if your melodies match, and the chord doesn’t sound quite like a minor chord but something different, then you try altered chords.

    This is a topic in and of itself! But hopefully this helps.

    Take care,



    7 Alan Buckley

    Hi Jermaine, Thank you very much for all your help, I understand all you are saying about the number system for chord progresions but I find my playing very ‘flat’ and am trying to find chords to act as a ‘lead in’. For example in a 12 bar blues I feel as though it needs something inbetween the 1 to 4 progression and again when it comes back from the 4 to the 1. I hope you understand what I mean as I am finding it hard to put into words.
    Once again thamk you for your help, I have a number of your downloads and find them VERY good. You touch on my problem in the later stages of your Christmas Carol Lessons but I would like to learn more.


    8 Robbie D. Brice

    Root 1st Inv. 2nd Inv. 3rd Inv.
    C+E+G a fourth F+A+C Inverted A+C+F, C+F+A

    C+E+G+B ” F+A+C+E A+C+E+F C+E+F+A E+F+A+C

    C+Eb+G ” F+Ab+C Ab+C+F C+F+Ab

    C+Eb+G+Bb ” F+Ab+C+Eb Ab+C+Eb+F C+Eb+F+Ab Eb+F+Ab+C

    I am a beginner. However, I just wanted to try this out to see if I am understanding you correctly. Thank you for your comments.


    9 Robbie

    I would like to resubmit my answer for easier reading.

    Root 1st Inv. 2nd Inv. 3rd Inv.
    a fourth F+A+C Inverted A+C+F C+F+A

    a fourth F+A+C+E A+C+E+F C+E+F+A E+F+A+C

    F+Ab+C Ab+C+F C+F+Ab

    F+Ab+C+Eb Ab+C+Eb+F C+Eb+F+Ab Eb+F+Ab+C

    I am a beginner. However, I just wanted to try this out to see if I am understanding you correctly. Thank you for your comments


    10 Robbie

    Homework – Extra Credit: (Submitted by Robbie)

    C major
    Root, 1st,2nd,3rd inversions I all 12 keys


    C major 7


    C minor


    C minor 7


    F major


    F major 7


    F minor


    F minor 7

    Bb major


    Bb major 7


    Bb minor


    Bb minor 7


    Eb major


    Eb major 7


    Eb minor


    Eb minor 7


    Ab major


    Ab major 7


    Ab minor


    Ab minor 7

    Db major


    Db major 7


    Db minor


    Db minor 7


    F# major

    A#+C#+ F#

    F# major 7


    F# minor

    F# minor 7


    B major


    B major 7


    B minor


    B minor 7


    E major


    E major 7
    E minor


    E minor 7


    A major


    A major 7


    A minor


    A minor 7


    D major


    D major 7


    D minor


    D minor 7


    G major


    G major 7

    G minor


    Gminor 7



    11 Tina

    C + E + G C major
    F + A + C F major
    Bb + D + F Bb major
    Eb + G + Bb Eb major
    Ab + C + Eb Ab major
    Db + F + Ab Db major
    Gb + Bb + Db Gb major
    B + Eb + Gb B major
    E + Ab + B E major
    A + Db + E A major
    D + Gb + A D major
    G + B + D G major

    C + E + G + B C major 7
    F + A + C + E F major 7
    Bb + D + F + A Bb major 7
    Eb + G + Bb + D Eb major 7
    Ab + C + Eb + G Ab major 7
    Db + F + Ab + C Db major 7
    Gb + Bb + Db + F Gb major 7
    B + Eb + Gb + Bb B major 7
    E + Ab + B + Eb E major 7
    A + Db + E + Ab A major 7
    D + Gb + A + Db D major 7
    G + B + D + Gb G major 7

    C + Eb + G C minor
    F + Ab + C F minor
    Bb + Db + F Bb minor
    Eb + Gb + Bb Eb minor
    Ab + B + Eb Ab minor
    Db + E + Ab Db minor
    Gb + A + Db Gb minor
    B + D + Gb B minor
    E + G + B E minor
    A + C + E A minor
    D + F + A D minor
    G + Bb + D G minor

    C + Eb + G + Bb C minor 7
    F + Ab + C + Eb F minor 7
    Bb + Db + F + Ab Bb minor 7
    Eb + Gb + Bb + Db Eb minor 7
    Ab + B + Eb + Gb Ab minor 7
    Db + E + Ab + B Db minor 7
    Gb + A + Db + E Gb minor 7
    B + D + Gb + A B minor 7
    E + G + B + D E minor 7
    A + C + E + G A minor 7
    D + F + A + C D minor 7
    G + Bb + D + F G minor 7

    E + G + C C major 1st inv
    A + C + F F major 1st inv
    D + F + Bb Bb major 1st inv
    G + Bb + Eb Eb major 1st inv
    C + Eb + Ab Ab major 1st inv
    F + Ab + Db Db major 1st inv
    Bb + Db + Gb Gb major 1st inv
    Eb + Gb + B B major 1st inv
    Ab + B + E E major 1st inv
    Db + E + A A major 1st inv
    Gb + A + D D major 1st inv
    B + D + G G major 1st inv

    E + G + B + C C M7 1st inv
    A + C + E + F F M7 1st inv
    D + F + A + Bb Bb M7 1st inv
    G + Bb + D + Eb Eb M7 1st inv
    C + Eb + G + Ab Ab M7 1st inv
    F + Ab + C + Db Db M7 1st inv
    Bb + Db + F + Gb Gb M7 1st inv
    Eb + Gb + Bb + B B M7 1st inv
    Ab + B + Eb + E E M7 1st inv
    Db + E + Ab + A A M7 1st inv
    Gb + A + Db + D D M7 1st inv
    B + D + Gb + G G M7 1st inv

    Eb + G + C C m 1st inv
    Ab + C + F F m 1st inv
    Db + F + Bb Bb m 1st inv
    Gb + Bb + Eb Eb m 1st inv
    B + Eb + Ab Ab m 1st inv
    E + Ab + Db Db m 1st inv
    A + Db + Gb Gb m 1st inv
    D + Gb + B B m 1st inv
    G + B + E E m 1st inv
    C + E + A A m 1st inv
    F + A + D D m 1st inv
    Bb + D + G G m 1st inv

    Eb + G + Bb + C C m7 1st inv
    Ab + C + Eb + F F m7 1st inv
    Db + F + Ab + Bb Bb m7 1st inv
    Gb + Bb + Db + Eb Eb m7 1st inv
    B + Eb + Gb + Ab Ab m7 1st inv
    E + Ab + B + Db Db m7 1st inv
    A + Db + E + Gb Gb m7 1st inv
    D + Gb + A + B B m7 1st inv
    G + B + D + E E m7 1st inv
    C + E + G + A A m7 1st inv
    F + A + C + D D m7 1st inv
    Bb + D + F + G G m7 1st inv

    G + C + E C major 2nd inv
    C + F + A F major 2nd inv
    F + Bb + D Bb major 2nd inv
    Bb + Eb + G Eb major 2nd inv
    Eb + Ab + C Ab major 2nd inv
    Ab + Db + F Db major 2nd inv
    Db + Gb + Bb Gb major 2nd inv
    Gb + B + Eb B major 2nd inv
    B + E + Ab E major 2nd inv
    E + A + Db A major 2nd inv
    A + D + Gb D major 2nd inv
    D + G + B G major 2nd inv

    G + B + C + E C M7 2nd inv
    C + E + F + A F M7 2nd inv
    F + A + Bb + D Bb M7 2nd inv
    Bb + D + Eb + G Eb M7 2nd inv
    Eb + G + Ab + C Ab M7 2nd inv
    Ab + C + Db + F Db M7 2nd inv
    Db + F + Gb + Bb Gb M7 2nd inv
    Gb + Bb + B + Eb B M7 2nd inv
    B + Eb + E + Ab E M7 2nd inv
    E + Ab + A + Db A M7 2nd inv
    A + Db + D + Gb D M7 2nd inv
    D + Gb + G + B G M7 2nd inv

    G + C + Eb C m 2nd inv
    C + F + Ab F m 2nd inv
    F + Bb + Db Bb m 2nd inv
    Bb + Eb + Gb Eb m 2nd inv
    Eb + Ab + B Ab m 2nd inv
    Ab + Db + E Db m 2nd inv
    Db + Gb + A Gb m 2nd inv
    Gb + B + D B m 2nd inv
    B + E + G E m 2nd inv
    E + A + C A m 2nd inv
    A + D + F D m 2nd inv
    D + G + Bb G m 2nd inv

    G + Bb + C + Eb C m7 2nd inv
    C + Eb + F + Ab F m7 2nd inv
    F + Ab + Bb + Db Bb m7 2nd inv
    Bb + Db + Eb + Gb Eb m7 2nd inv
    Eb + Gb + Ab + B Ab m7 2nd inv
    Ab + B + Db + E Db m7 2nd inv
    Db + E + Gb + A Gb m7 2nd inv
    Gb + A + B + D B m7 2nd inv
    B + D + E + G E m7 2nd inv
    E + G + A + C A m7 2nd inv
    A + C + D + F D m7 2nd inv
    D + F + G + Bb G m7 2nd inv
    B + C + E + G C M7 3rd inv
    E + F + A + C F M7 3rd inv
    A + Bb + D + F Bb M7 3rd inv
    D + Eb + G + Bb Eb M7 3rd inv
    G + Ab + C + Eb Ab M7 3rd inv
    C + Db + F + Ab Db M7 3rd inv
    F + Gb + Bb + Db Gb M7 3rd inv
    Bb + B + Eb + Gb B M7 3rd inv
    Eb + E + Ab + B E M7 3rd inv
    Ab + A + Db + E A M7 3rd inv
    Db + D + Gb + A D M7 3rd inv
    Gb + G + B + D G M7 3rd inv

    Bb + C + Eb + G C m7 3rd inv
    Eb + F + Ab + C F m7 3rd inv
    Ab + Bb + Db + F Bb m7 3rd inv
    Db + Eb + Gb + Bb Eb m7 3rd inv
    Gb + Ab + B + Eb Ab m7 3rd inv
    B + Db + E + Ab Db m7 3rd inv
    E + Gb + A + Db Gb m7 3rd inv
    A + B + D + Gb B m7 3rd inv
    D + E + G + B E m7 3rd inv
    G + A + C + E A m7 3rd inv
    C + D + F + A D m7 3rd inv
    F + G + Bb + D G m7 3rd inv


    12 W H C Bowen Jr

    My computer would not let me download your 44 page guide to Using the Circle
    of Fifths to learn Every Chord in all 12 Keys. Can I get the guide another way. W H C Bowen, Jr., email: saxmu2003@yahoo.com


    13 Floyd

    This information, though complex, is made so simple by your system if one will realize that it takes concentration and practise. I want to begin playing in my church, that’s my heart desire, to bring glory to the name of the Lord.


    14 Bill

    Thank you Jermaine!
    For the information that you shared. I will definitely study this and intergrad this into my own piano playing anyone who didn’t pick up your latest reports you guys should. The Info is GOLD!!



    15 Verna Bennett

    Thanks so much,

    This is some very useful informaion. I have only been playing about 5 years. I am in the music ministry at my church. You have helped me tremendously. Thank you!

    ’til the next time…


    16 marie cottrell

    Wow! I’m enjoying all this. I enjoyed the James Bond Movie. It was funny. If
    you start getting into the movies you will make plenty of money.



    17 marie cottrell

    Can you please let my know exactly where and how to listen on Tue. on line.

    I am a grandmother who has not been on the computer too long.




    18 Richard Coplin

    I have tried to study the circle before, and until now, have not gotten close to understanding it. Since Jermaine says it is so important, I searched the web and found this site that I want to recomment. Here is the url: http://www.circle-of-fifths.net/. It contains a series of mini-lectures and a follow up test for 7 lessons, much like the MT series tests. I am not associated with the owner in any way, but it is an AWESOME tool to go along with what we learn here and at MT.


    19 Kazayet

    Jermaine, you are too much man. I’m glad I know this site. I was introduced by a friend in 2003 and right now everywhere I go people want more of me. I’ve increased in understanding musical concepts and use them to improvise on my guitar. I’ll never forget you.


    20 Watson


    This is great information and knowledge you are giving away. Thank you so much for being such a giving teacher and making theory easy to understand. I am a beginner and have been looking for this website and a teacher like you. I would like to comment on what Cassandra said about using flats for major keys B,E,A,D,G. I believe the reason why you want to stay with sharps is it allows you to know what notes are not a scale. Take for a example the B scale notes are B C# D# E F# G# A# B. If you were to use Eb instead of D# then you may think E is not in this scale. The sharps help you to understand the corresponding letter is not in the scale. For example C# tells me C will not be played and so for D#, F#, G#. I hope this help and I was able to put into words my understanding clearly.

    Thank you so Much JG,


    21 jayagopi jagadeesan

    Hi Jermaine,

    Your explanation of the way music works around the “circle of fifths” was awesome man. You had sent me a link for the corresponding video on circle of fifths. That was even more awesome buddy. I wanted to see it again, but can’t seem to find it in your site anymore. Could you please give me the link.
    Thanks Jermaine.
    Take care and God Bless.



    22 jayagopi jagadeesan

    Hi Jermaine,

    I found your circle-of-fifths video.


    23 Joseph

    This is exta ordinary exercise.
    I discovered that by following circle of fourths(counter clock wise)Am able to count from the root keynote down to a fourth just in seconds which is fantastic.

    The chromatic style is also an important tool to use learning chords so exciting that one can have problems when it comes to transposition.

    Jermaine, Keep up the good work.
    God bless You!
    Joseph Shonga.


    24 Joseph

    This is exta ordinary exercise.
    I discovered that by following circle of fourths(counter clock wise)Am able to count from the root keynote down to a fourth just in seconds which is fantastic.

    The chromatic style is also an important tool to use learning chords so exciting that one can not have problems when it comes to transposition.

    Jermaine, Keep up the good work.
    God bless You!
    Joseph Shonga.


    25 larry

    am a new learner my heart is into playing for the Lord. i can play my music that comes to me. but i cant play with everyone am seeking help to play this keyboard to the best of my ability.


    26 John Hendry

    You fail to understand why a 5th above is a 4th BELOW my friend. Just hang in there as a new circle of 5th has improved the Old one that will make this point clear. You are not the only one that fails to see this. Einstein played the violin and he missed something too. Will be posted on Korg’s forum soon.

    John Hendry^^


    27 Jermaine

    @John Hendry

    That topic is clearly discussed in another topic:



    28 Joel

    Phew! That was an uphill to read all, but it’s worth the effort, to be digested little
    by little latter. I could print anything that comes from you people Jermaine and your staff,
    you are wonderful, in case I miss one critical note in passing because sometimes the obvious is hidden in plain view. Ever found people so loving to share with the world
    what expertise they’ve honed through the years? You are.
    Thanks, Joel.


    29 Vinciane

    Hi Jermaine, the link to the chart with the circle of fifths goes to a web page with advertising??? Any clue to the reason for this?



    30 Jermaine Griggs

    Vinciane, sorry about. The real link is http://www.musiccirclechart.com (I accidentally had circlemusicchart.com).


    31 Tonitia

    You are a blessing! There will always be a critic…nevermind them. Us folks down here in Texas love you Jermaine! Keep letting the
    Lord use you :-)


    32 plaisimond erry

    that is so awesome, thanks for sharing Jermaine!


    33 Lemuel Shaw

    Well I wanted too read the knowledge you discovered on how you cracked on how and why to use the circle of fifths. Please, forward the information to me. Thanks


    34 David

    Hello, in my quest to understand this I am missing something. It says to go counter clockwise. Most songs I play or study are 1-4-5 or that is how I have seen it. How is that going counter clock wise on the chart? I know I am missing something here.
    Thanks David


    35 tech

    This website was… how do I say it? Relevant!!

    Finally I have found something which helped me.
    Thanks a lot!


    36 Jacquie

    One of the extremely lucrative businesses women will go into will be the creation of accessories.
    By this, you might be reinforcing that negativity and attracting to yourself
    MORE. Body Language is nonverbal, usually unconscious,
    communication by using postures, gestures, and facial expressions.


    37 Guest

    Well you said “What’s a 2-5-1 progression in the key of C? Well, the 2 is “D”… the 5 is “G” and the 1 is “C.” Where do those notes just “happen” to appear on the circle of fifths chart?”

    I observed that from C to D (clock wise, D is at second position from C) and then from D to G to C (it’s counter clock wise counting). But why is it being called 2-5-1 ? I mean, clock wise, D is at second position from C and Counter clock wise D is at fourth position from G and C is also at fourth position from G, so shouldn’t it be 2-4-4??


    38 Julia

    The 2-5-1 refers to the 2nd, 5th, and 1st notes (keys) of the “scale” of the key you are playing in, not the positions on the “circle”. In the scale of C, C is 1, D is 2, and G is 5. (E-3, F-4, A-6, B-7, to complete the scale numbers). In a different key, say F, F-1, G-2, and C-5. You might be able to fill in the remaining numbers of the scale that I did not supply. I hope this helps.


    39 tyson

    Powerful stuff thank you for such great ideas and techniques which you are sharing to us and learning music,you are a blessing from God.


    40 Artiest

    Jermaine this is incredible insight on the whole circle “shabang”. I was just talking to a friend about this and just didn’t quite get it. The light bulb definitely just came on and I’m starting to get more understanding as to how the wheel works. I hear about progressions and numbers of the scale all the time such as: 736251 but was having trouble composing them I have done this exercise before but not in all 12 keys.

    Thanks for getting the fire stirred up again.
    I was beginning to get depressed because of the stagnant motions very encouraging.


    41 Oyans Victor

    though new in this game but you have enriched my knowledge in piano, the circle fifth or forth or both, and chromatic movement and all that are so amazing… i wanna do better, all the i can get get, don’t hold back please.


    42 tyson

    This is powerful ear opener,thank you keep up the good work.


    43 Prosperous

    Hi Jermaine.Thank U So Much.This Is A Major Breakthrough For Me.I Have Been Seeking Better Expanation Of Circle Of Fifth For Years.Thanks Sir.I Will Do D Homework.


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