Guitar Lesson- Circle of Fourths Chord Progressions


Chord progressions using the circle of fourths are popular in all musical styles. Starting from the first chord in the progression, each subsequent chord will be a fourth higher in the key. The circle of fourths utilizes every chord in the key, playing through them one by one.

The following progression contains chords from C major. This progression is actually in the key A minor. C major and A minor both contain the same exact notes, making them relative keys. The key of A minor is considered the relative minor of C major. Conversely, C major is considered the relative major of A minor. Using this knowledge, you can play solos in relative keys, using the notes of the Am pentatonic scales over a progression in C major.

Notice that A is the sixth step of the C major scale. In any major key, the relative minor scale starts on the sixth step. This is also called a mode of the scale. There is a different mode for each step of the scale. 

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Here is the circle of fourths chord progression in Am, presented as a rhythm in tablature. Practicing this progression will help you become fluent in changing from chord to chord using the full form chords from the previous lesson. Once you’ve got this rhythm down, try to vary it and come up with your own strumming patterns. You can also record this rhythm and play solos over it using all of the C major scales, since C major and A minor are relative keys.

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©2009 Fred Russell Publishing, All Rights Reserved. This article can not be used without permission from the Author. To Contact the Author email curt@RockHouseMethod.com

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Online Guitar Lessons said...

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Larry said...

www.thefrustratedguitar.com Great Article on the circle of fifths!!!

Guitar Tuner said...

Thanks for the great tutorial even though I had a hard time working on it.

Sarge said...

Nothing comes easy ;)

Anonymous said...

A minor pentatonic does not have an F note but D minor 7th chord does...Won't the chord and the scale clash? Should we not use the C major scale to comply with each of the chords sturctured in fourths?