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Circle Of Fifths: An Introduction

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The Gershwin tune "I Got Rhythm" has the quintessential bridge section that uses part of the Circle of Fifths. A chord progression that explicitly uses the Circle Of Fifths is frequently called Cycle Five Motion, especially in jazz.

In fact this is so typical of jazz tunes and this tune in particular it has it's own term, "Rhtyhm Changes" (as in the chord "changes" in "I Got Rhythm"). If you are familiar with the tune, start singing at the bridge.

The song starts in B-flat major with this progression.

Bb (I) / G (VI) / Cm (ii) / F (V) But the bridge modulates using the circle of fifths!

"Old man trouble" D7 (V7 of vi)
"I don't mind him" G7 (V7 of ii)
"You won't find him" C7 (V7 of V)
"'Round my door" F7 (V7)

This sort of motion is very common in popular standards.

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