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WBA Column


Hi everyone! As a new Washington State resident, I’d like to introduce myself to the WBA crowd. I’ve been playing music since 1998 and teaching since about then as well. The focus of this column will be on music eduction and promotion of PNW bluegrass music. If you have any suggestions for topics or questions, please contact me at

Today, let’s talk about the circle of 5ths.

Circle of 5ths / Cycle of 4ths

Circle of 5ths / Cycle of 4ths – Generally this is called the Circle of 5ths, it’s also called the Cycle of 4ths. Don’t panic – they are the same thing. The only real difference is the direction you move. Going clockwise is the Circle of 5ths, counter-clockwise is the Cycle of 4ths.

Relative Major and Minor
Most circles will show the Major key on the outside with its relative Minor key on the inside.  Remember:


Sharps / Flats
Knowing what notes are sharp and flat in a given key is really helpful – especially if you have to transpose a song to a new key. The circle of fifths makes learning this really easy.

Spelling Chords
Using the circle as a visual reference can be helpful when trying to remember how to spell chords.

I hope this helps.  Next quarter we’ll dive a bit further into the Circle to help spell common (and not so common) chords. 

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