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Circle Of Fifths: An Introduction

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Regarding jazz standards, 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, "Rhythm Changes" (as in the chord "changes" in "I Got Rhythm"). If you are familiar with the tune, start singing at the bridge.

"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)

Which brings the tune back to the home key of B-flat! "I Got Rhythm ..." This is a perfect slice of the circle of fifths:

D7 --> G7 --> C7 --> F7 --> B-flat

In the video example I put this progression in C major instead of B-flat major for ease of explanation.

For another example, in the song "Autumn Leaves" the entire first verse is part of the circle of fifths.

There are many other songs that use the circle of fifths for part of the chord progression.

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