5 Ways to Use the Circle of Fifths | Music Theory

  |  Caiti VerBrugge  |  

In this in-depth music theory tutorial, Pyramind instructor Ryan Rey goes over multiple ways you can use the Circle of Fifths (or Camelot Wheel) as a musician or DJ.

1. Major and Minor Scales
As you move up the circle of fifths, the number of sharps in each scale increases. Whenever a sharp is added to a scale, that same sharp is carried over to the next scale on the circle. Ryan also shows us how to use the chart to determine which sharps are added to each scale.

2. Chords in Each Key
Next, Ryan shows goes over how to use the circle of fifths to find the diatonic triads (chords) of the key you are working in. He recommends using the interactive circle of fifths on randscullard.com to make the process easier. 

3. Related Keys
The circle of fifths can also be used to find related keys. We can see related major and minor keys, as well as other closely related keys. This is especially useful for DJs who need help figuring out which songs can easily be mixed together. Ryan also goes over using the Camelot Wheel, which uses a number system to display similar information conveyed on the circle of fifths. 

4. Mode Mixing
You can also use the circle of fifths to find parallel keys (keys that share the same tonic). For example, C Major and C Minor are parallel keys. Using the chart, you can instantly know which notes and chords are in a parallel key.

5. Tonic and Dominant Relationships 
Since the circle of fifths is presented in fifths, you can easily see the tonic and dominant (fifth note) of each key. This is especially useful for musicians looking to explore the idea of secondary dominance - using a chord that is the dominant chord of a certain key other than the tonic key.


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