5 Ways to Use the Circle of Fifths | Music Theory

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.


Recent Posts

Ramon Wesselink

One of Pyramind’s most powerful assets is the quality of its student body, and Ramon Wesselink is one of the best examples. Ramon was born and raised in a small village in the east of Holland. After years of performing and recording music during his youth, he moved to the Bay Area and enrolled in Pyramind. While still a student he held internships at both Pyramind and AudioSFX in Marin county, where he now works on projects ranging from “Watchmen” to “Star Wars”, video games to rock albums, and psytrance to TV commercials. He also appears on the new Pyramind community compilation “Evolution One”, released at the start of this year, under the alias “Esoteknic.”

Read More »

Andrea Iacopini

Andrea Iacopini moved to San Francisco by way of Bologna, Italy. Like many Pyramind students, he began playing music at the age of 6, when his parents pushed him to play violin and study “Solfeggio” (or sight-singing). Years later, his uncle gave him an old, used electric guitar for his birthday, and everything changed. After playing in a number of bands in Italy, some of which even drew media and label attention, Andrea moved to San Francisco to attend Pyramind and advance his knowledge of audio recording.

He talked to us about his experiences at Pyramind, what he’s learned, and how it’s helped him as a musician and audio industry professional.

Read More »

Connor Moore

From Connor Moore’s experience growing up immersed in an environment of jazz and world music, he developed a unique style of production combining ethereal melodic concepts with heavy breaks and syncopation. His sound has been compared to the likes of DJ Shadow, Four Tet, and Bonobo.

Throughout his youth, Connor played guitar, bass, piano and drums, which helped shape his organic sound. His blending of live instrumentation with electronic music through unique forms of production, is a distinguishing trait in his music. While in college, he began to embrace DJ culture and hosted various radio programs over a four year period which enabled him to discover many different styles and genres that made a profound impact on his song writing and production style.

Read More »

Book a call with an educational advisor