How to use the Circle of Fifths

November 28, 2017

How to use the Circle of Fifths

Have you tried to sing a song and noticed that it’s either too high or too low for your vocal range?

Let’s say, for example, the song that you want to learn starts with the C chord. You find out that the vocal range for the C chord is a bit too high for you to sing. What should you do next?

Maybe you can try to stretch your lungs out singing those high notes…

Well, fortunately, there’s a musical chart that you can use to help you out with arranging those notes so that you can find a reasonable pitch for your vocal range.

Circle Of Fifths

Circle of Fifths Chard

Circle of Fifths is a musical theory used by many musicians. It is applicable to any musical instruments but today, we will use it to practice your Ukulele skills.

This theory can be scary and a little complicated to discuss but we’re going to make it simple and more practical so that you can easily implement it in learning the Ukulele chords.

So how does it work?

Circle of Fifths in layman’s term is simply the correlation between notes or chords.

If you take a look at the chart, you will find that it shows chords in the musical interval of 5th. A 5th is simply the notes around the major scale (do re mi fa so). This arrangement makes the chart easily understood and incredibly useful.

For this lesson, we will discuss two practical ways to implement the Circle of Fifths when you practice Ukulele chords.

Look for chords that compliment each other.

Try to use the I-IV-V progression. Let’s say, for example, the C chord. We can look at all the chords that sit next to C. Going clockwise around the circle, you will see G and on the other side is F. These chords on both sides will fit well with the C chord. So basically the pattern will be C-F-G (I-IV-V chord progression in the key of C).

Chord progression

This pattern is incredibly very common chord progression among popular songs and you will hear it most of the time without even realizing it.

Now, if you decide to play I-IV-V chord progression in the key of A, you can simply implement the same technique with the A chord.

Following the same method, the progression of A chord will be A-D-E.

circle of fifths

What’s good about this is that it is not only limited to I-IV-V pattern. As a rule of thumb, any chords that sit closely together within the circle will sound great. You can go ahead and experiment with other chords, see if the chord progression suits your taste. Of course, there’s some exception to it but it is a good starting point.

Transpose a song.

This method is very useful especially if the song you are trying to sing doesn’t fit well with your vocal range.

How do you implement Circle of Fifth?

Well, let’s say you have a song with the following chord progression: Am-F-G-C.

Circle of Fifths Transpose

You decide that you are not comfortable with that key and you want to sing the song starting with Dm instead of the original key of Am. What should you do next?

Simply follow the progression in the Circle of Fifth and replicate the pattern of the chords from the original Key. For this example, You moved from Am to Dm. Looking at the chart, your chord progression in the Dm key will be Dm-Bb-C-F.

Circle of fifths transpose

And Voila! You’ve just transposed a song!


Circle of Fifths is a good starting point if you are still unfamiliar with the chord progression. It will serve as a guide to help you keep those chords blend together.

So there you have it. You just made your life easier by adding Circle of Fifths in your arsenal.

Keep practicing!

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in News

Difference Between Kalimba And Mbira
Difference Between Kalimba And Mbira

September 17, 2020

The term Thumb Piano is also a generalization. It’s a nickname more than anything, but does group these instruments together. So no matter if you’re playing a Kalimba or an Mbira, you’re playing a thumb piano. Just like all cars are automobiles, but not all automobiles are cars. There are way too many to cover in a single article, so we're going to focus on just the few that are most important.

View full article →

Diatonic Harmony Modes and Triads on Ukulele
Diatonic Harmony Modes and Triads on Ukulele

September 16, 2020

If you’re not familiar with Diatonic Harmony, then pay attention. Diatonic Harmony is how the note within a key relate to one another. For example, the key of C Major has the seven notes of the C major scale. They are the following: C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. If the melody is considered to be diatonic, that means it only uses the 7 notes of the C major scale.

View full article →

How To Play Bill Withers' Lean On Me On Ukulele
How To Play Bill Withers' Lean On Me On Ukulele

September 02, 2020

“Lean on Me’ was written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Bill Withers. Released in 1972, the song went to the list of Billboard Hot 100 and is ranked number 208 on Rolling Stone’s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. Jeffrey Thomas made a version that followed the signature piano intro. If you’re into old classic music, then this song should be included in your playlist. Enjoy!

View full article →