Circle of fifths example: In His Time

So many of you have written or otherwise let me know that you are taking on the challenge I gave you last month of learning the circle of fifths this year. I want to give you a practical example of that today, but first, if you have not watched that video, here it is again. (If you don’t see the video below, click here.)

Someone wrote in asking if I could give him an example of a song where you could use the entire 7-chord progression (IV – vii – iii – vi – ii – V – I). I told him that I couldn’t think of one right off hand. That is not to say I don’t use this progression constantly but I don’t really consciously think about it. And most of the time, I use subsets of the progression rather than all 7 chords.

I was tickled that this person went out on his own and found a great song to demonstrate the full progression. All of you will know it: the simple chorus “In His Time.” Here is a lead sheet that demonstrates the progression over the course of 4 bars (the second 4 bars).

Now, here is what I advise you to do. Learn “In His Time” using these chords in every key. It is not as difficult as you think. If you are practicing your chords in every key, your only challenge will be learning to play the melody in every key. However, this is about as simple of a melody as you will every see so you will probably be able to do it easier than you think.

By the way, I have never talked about transposing melodies before but one way to do it is to learn the pitches by number just as you might learn chords by number. In other words, when I look at that first phrase, I could think 1 – 3 – 2, 7 – 2 – 1, 3 – 5 – 4 – 4 – 4 – 4 – 4 – 4 – 6 – 5. That is not the only way to do it, but if you struggle with playing by ear, it might help you.