Forum - Banjo Ben Clark

Changing Key Signatures and NNS - 1,4,5

I seem to have a blind side when it comes to using the NNS. I am fine with playing in the keys of C, D and G but any other key and my mind goes blank.

I do however have access to a great little online resource an interactive Circle of Fifths

Here’s the link for anyone interested in using it.

Just click on the letter in the left column of the key signature you want and the Circle will display the results

Knock yourself out…


I remember having that mental block but it was overcome by being forced to use it (and playing lots of wrong chords). As soon as I consider a new key, I count backwards 1 and know what the flat 7th is, then I know what the 6 minor is, then that tells me immediately what the 5 and the 4 are. Next thing you know I’m hanging down around the 3, and the 2 minor is simply one up from the root. Haha.


It’s clearly an aged thing. as well as counting backwards I can’t remember where I put my teeth either.


I used to have trouble memorising each song in “letters” and a key change would mean starting all that over again. When a friend/bandmate explained to me how numbers & positions on the neck correlated it was a huge epiphany for me & made it all much easier to understand.

Strange, in 50 years of playing, I’ve never used circle of fifths…I understand it and have seen it thousands of times, but have never put it into conscious use. .


I don’t even understand what the concious use would be, it seems to be a diagram that sits in your music case like a multiplication table or something


It’s more like a ready reckoner

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Very cool! Thanks Archie.


Just curious. Was it required learning in music school?

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I think I would get the best use of it if I was trying to figure out the chords to a song by ear. ie. I could just click on the key of the song, and that would show a diagram of seven chords to try first.

Most of what I learned musically, I did so by ear, so there was lots of trial and error. This has the potential to minimize a lot of that.

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Yes, we had to learn it in our sight singing and ear training class, but was forced to actually use it in our performance ensembles.


Thanks for sharing that @Archie, I’ve just bookmarked that in my tabs folder. I must admit I’m not even as advanced as you. I’m still figuring it out.

I found this interactive circle of fifths mobile app recently which is very similar and plays your selection. It’s free and no adds. This one is for Android, I don’t see it on the Apple app store but there are similar ones there.

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Thanks Maggie.

Someday, when you least expect it, it will just click, Then the clouds will part, the sun will shine through, and you’ll find that you have finally unlocked I, IV, V.

An entirely new musical world will open up! :smile: