- Choose the key you’re interested in and make sure it’s at the top of the circle
- All notes to the right of the dividing line refer to notes in that major scale
- The chord names in red refer to chords in that major key
- The mode names in black refer to the major scale that should be played in order to achieve that particular mode (this starts to make sense when you try it)
Figure out how to play a particular mode:
- Say you want to know how to play A phrygian mode
- Click on A to send it to the top of the circle
- Next to the word “Phrygian” is the letter F. This means that to play A phrygian mode, you just play an F ionian (aka major) scale.
- To see what notes are in an F major scale, click on F so that it moves to the top of the circle. All the notes on and to the right of the line are notes in F major and A phrygian (and a few other modes as well 🙂 )
Figure out what chords are required to play a song in a mode:
- Say you want to know how to compose a song in D mixolydian mode
- Click on D so that it moves to the top of the circle
- You can see that to play D mixolydian you need the chords from G major
- Click on G to send it to the top of the circle
- Now you can see what chords (D major, A minor etc…) are required in order to be in D Mixolydian mode
Figure out what the note intervals are for a scale:
- Say you want to know what the intervals and notes are for C mixolydian mode
- Click on C to send it to the top of the circle
- You can see that to play C mixolydian mode we need the notes from an F major scale
- Click on F to send it to the top of the circle
- Starting on the letter C, name every other note, treating the dividing line as if it completed a separate circle
- This gives you C, D, E, F, G, A, A#, C
- Now, the interval between each of those notes is always a tone…. except when you crossed the dividing line to get to the next note.
- This gives us intervals of: T-T-S-T-T-S-T because we crossed the dividing line to get from E to F, and from A to A#
- Make sense? Try it yourself for another mode!
The Interactive Circle of Fifths by Hamish Haughey is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non-Commercial-No Derivative Works 2.0 UK: England & Wales License.