Songwriting Ideas and Music Theory

This lovely lady called Sally Perkins, came across my web posts regarding songwriting exercises and it reminded her of an article she had written previously about using the Cycle of Fifths to approach Songwriting.

She reached out to share her thoughts that perhaps you might be interested to read this article as well.

I hope you enjoy her thoughts.

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Circle of Fifths and Writing the Perfect Song Every Time

Bryan Adams once said, “A songwriter writes songs all the time, whereas just writing a song can be done by anyone, anytime.” It’s an inspiring message to all the songwriters out there, but sometimes we can’t write songs all the time – sometimes we get stuck. If you’re in a rut, here’s a tip called the Circle of Fifths which can be a quick lifehack for all you songwriters out there. It’s used in most Western songs and once you get the hang of it, you will be able to crack out an amazing song every time.

What is the Circle of Fifths?

The Circle of Fifths is a music theory diagram used to find the key of a song, transpose songs to a different key, compose songs, and learn key signatures and scales. It was designed in the seventeenth century and shows relationships between the twelve tones of the chromatic scale as well as their corresponding majors and minors.

How to use the Circle of Fifths?

As you go around the circular Circle of Fifths diagram, you learn how to find perfect fifths. Each key is a fifth about the last, hence the name of the diagram. If you go backwards, each key is a fourth above the last. Many jazz chord progressions are based off the fourth. However, to find the most popular chord progression in the world, and the one that is used over and over in pop music, you will need to follow the I-IV-V-I rule. This means once you start with your key, you will move one step counter-clockwise to find the IV or fourth chord and then clockwise to find the V or fifth chord. The other two I’s represent your original key. Once you find these, you will have your standard popular chord progression and can create a catchy song in no time.

Apps to Help You

Everything you could ever need is now in the app store and the Circle of Fifths is no exception. You will find interactive Circle of Fifths diagrams available online that will help you perfect your songwriting skills wherever you are. 

Remember that practice makes perfect and to master the Circle of Fifths you will need to become familiar with it. You should take some time to learn more about the circle and carve some time every day to practice using it.

Cycle of Fifths + Songwriting

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