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Thread: Ukulele Circle of Fifths

  1. #31
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    Manhattan Beach, CA


    Thanks! I was already using this chart and I can thank you personally now!

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Sep 2009


    Janeray1940 Thank you for bumping that thread. Nice collection of Kamakas you have on your instrument CV.

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Nov 2009


    Quote Originally Posted by fromthee2me View Post
    Janeray1940 Thank you for bumping that thread. Nice collection of Kamakas you have on your instrument CV.
    You're welcome! And thanks for noticing the collection. I am a very, very lucky Kamaka girl.

  4. #34


    Thanks Gary! I was drawing this for some folks the other day, but I didn't know all the fingerings!
    Makala Dolphin Teaching Pod: 1 LightTurquoise, 1 RedBurst, 1 WhiteSparkle, 1 BlueSparkle, 1 Pink, 1 Pinkburst, 1 Purple, 1 Yellow, 1 Yellowburst

    Personal Ukes: 2 Dolphin OrangeBursts (1 Low G), Makala LightBlueBurst Tenor (Low G), Disney Princess Plastic

    Cigar Box Strummer ~ Strat-body Ibanez 3/4 ~ Clayz Raindrop Alto Ab ~ Focalink Jade Crackle Soprano B

  5. #35
    Join Date
    Jul 2011


    OMG This is awesome, Obviously if your a muscian that plays a brass or woodwind instrument then you've seen this, but this is a much needed study for any instrument, I usually just do this mentally(Thanks to Music theory and general knowledge) But this will really help you to get better and closer on your instrument.

  6. #36
    Join Date
    May 2011
    East SF Bay Area, California


    Quote Originally Posted by Gary Jugert View Post
    You're absolutely right that the dominant 7th chords shown aren't typically a part of a circle of fifths layout.

    …In other words, I added the fingerings for the 7ths because I'm lazy ... AND because you can almost always replace the fifth of your key with a fifth in the dominant 7th.

    If your song is in C, you'll likely be playing C, F, Am, and G (or G7). I put the G7 fingering next to the G so it's easy to find and can substitute if my song needs it. And my songs need all the help they can get.
    Thanks so much!

    I've been looking around for an "explanation" of the principles behind "substituting one chord in place of another" and your chart is great for helping me with that seemingly ubiquitous "Dominant-7 substitution for the Fifth" chord thing.

    …now, if I could figure out (by someone telling me ) what the "function" of the other "weird" types (families?) of chords are, I'd be even less in the dark as to the mysteries of the arcane art of CHORD SUBSTITUTION than I am now! Yay…! <chuckle!>

    Anyway, thanks again, and maybe you can figure out a way to graphically represent that whole:

    • "1=3=6 and 2=4 and 5=7" thing,…

    [ Hmm… there seems to be a "2=4=6" and a "5=3" and "2=V7=3" thing as well!? ]

    (( Although, that actually IS on your chart, isn't it!? ))

    …as well as what the HECK those Sus and Add chord's functions actually are.

    Bein' a music theory newbie is FUN…!! <groan! chuckle!>
    Last edited by iakeo; 08-05-2011 at 08:44 AM.

  7. #37
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Dallas, Georgia, USA


    I couldn't figure out where the Jack Daniels belongs in that circle.
    Mike in Dallas, GA

    Mainland Mahogany Tenor
    Eleuke Peanut Soprano
    Have you played a Ukulele today? Well, you should.

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Denver Colorado


    Ha!! The Jack Daniels belongs in that circle that starts on your left ear and goes around your head and ends up on your right ear and then goes all the way back around to your left ear.

    First of all, I'm very happy many of you are finding the Ukulele Circle of Fifths useful. Unfortunately, sometimes it brings up more questions than it answers and sometimes the questions are more confusing than the answers. I always hesitate to jump into the music theory discussions because I've never seen one that actually clarifies the questions at hand, but rather they obscure the simple beauty of western music's rules.

    Nevertheless, I proceed...

    I built this chart to help myself write new songs ... not necessarily to solve the riddle of music theory. There are plenty of things in the chart that need a little more elaboration if it was to be used for a music theory class. Nonetheless, if you want to write a song, you can pick any starting point on the wheel, and most every chord nearby will sound pretty good. For example, if you want to write a song in the key of F, you simply need to look at the Circle of Fifths and you can be darn sure that F, Bb, C, Dm, Gm, and Am will all offer you cooperative sounds for your song.

    So what's the deal with 7ths, Major 7ths, Minor 7ths, diminished chords, augmented sounds, sus4s, flatted 13ths, and all that other fancy schmancy stuff????

    Here's the secret ... and don't tell anybody you know this 'cause I swear the music police will come to your door and tear the ukulele right out of your hands ... all those other chords are just ways to slightly alter the color of the main chords.

    GASP! You mean you don't really have to memorize all that nonsense, Gary??

    Again, top secret ... do NOT tell people you know this:

    There are only four types of chords in the world. Major, Minor, Augmented, Diminished. You will never need to play an augmented chord on your ukulele if you don't really want to, so forget them. There is only ONE shape for all diminished chords (and they barely come up anyway). So on the ukulele, you only need to memorize the majors and minors. You can learn them in an afternoon (because many of the shapes are bar chords).

    If I can learn every chord I'll ever need in an afternoon, then why all the fuss over those fancy chords?

    It's simple. On a guitar, or a piano, or in an orchestra, you can make a whole lot more complicated chords because you can make a whole lot more sounds happen simultaneously. Guys with bow ties and nothing better to do with themselves sit down and figure out the names of those fancy chords, and sooner or later they end up on your favorite internet lyrics site and if you haven't read this post, you think you should actually play those things.

    Do you have to play a Cmaj7?

    No. Just play C.

    Will it sound better if I play Cmaj7?


    Then why play C?

    Because you are still learning to be a great player and you don't need to waste your brain on this kinda nonsense. If you're just strumming and singing merrily away, you should feel just fine playing the easiest chord you know. Every professional musician does it. Someday you'll memorize the chording for an Am6, but for now, play Am and you'll sound fine. On the rare occasion when you fall in love with a song and really really want to make it sound extra cool, you can go look up the fingering for those complicated chords on a one-at-a-time basis. Remember, those chords come from guitars, pianos, or orchestras, usually not ukuleles, so even if you figure out the chord shape, there's no guarantee it'll sound good, or that your fingers will be able to hit it.

    And let me get on my soap box. Stop playing other people's songs and write your own! I don't want to hear your rendition of Hey Jude anyway. I want to hear your zombie, robot, love, dead dog, Camaro driving at night song. And if you write the song, and use your own chords, you'll never need to know what a Bm7b5 looks like on your fret board. (Remember, if you want to write a song, look at the Circle of Fifths, find the chords that are near each other, and head to your basement with a pad of paper and a pencil. Three hours from now, you'll have a song that is all your own and they won't delete it from YouTube.)

    Last secret I'll let you in on:

    Most musicians playing in bands today have no idea what the name of the advanced chords they're using actually are. If you own a guitar, you noodle around with the chords until you find something that sounds cool. If you play the piano, you use a fourth or fifth finger in your chording hand and suddenly you have more complicated and interesting voicings. This is a good thing, but it's different for us ukulele players. We only have four strings and two octaves. We have more limits on what our instrument can do, and while the ukulele will certainly do lots of fancy chords, you shouldn't be spending a lot of time trying to memorize those things. Just noodle and find the cool sounds and don't worry what they're called.

    Final soapbox speech: In an orchestra, the tuba plays ONE note at a time. So does the trumpet, the trombone, the clarinet, the flute, the oboe, usually everyone in the entire strings section is also playing one note at a time. ONE NOTE AT A TIME. It's called melody and it's what you've been doing with your singing voice. Have you tried it on the ukulele? If it's good enough for a violin, it's good enough for ukulele too. Forget chording altogether and give melody a chance. You'll find your ukulele sings a mighty good tune. You'll also find your fingers magically showing up in the shapes of the chords without you even trying.

    We are so lucky to play this instrument. Every day I am amazed at how fortunate I am to be a part of its history.

    Now go write a song.

  9. #39
    Join Date
    May 2011
    East SF Bay Area, California


    Amen, brah…!!

    …as someone who has mostly concentrated on only playing the 3 high strings (need to work on da barre chords!), it's good to hear I can "keep it simple" and do my own improvizing.

    Mahalo nui, buckeroo…!!

  10. #40


    Quote Originally Posted by JT_Ukes View Post
    What does it all mean?

    How would one use this chart.


    very useful chart in writing songs or improvising chord progressions. for example the song "Wild World" by Cat Stevens it's in the key of C. by looking at the Circle of 5th going clockwise it's from C-G-D-A. Wild World's first four chords is Am-D-G-C that's going counterclockwise from A-C.
    Ther are a bunch of hit songs that used cirlce of 5th e.g. "Yesterday", "Five Foot Two", etc.

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