‘Circle of Life’, but it’s played as a circle of fifths

22 August 2019, 20:58

By Kyle Macdonald

Elton John's famous anthem from The Lion King, but combined with music theory's favourite harmonic circle.

The cycle of life, death and new life, combined with the cycle of music harmony: C major, F# major to C major.

The circle of fifths is a sequence of keys that moves you elegantly though every major or minor tonality on the keyboard. From C, to G, to D, and so on, though every key on the piano. You can move around the circle either clockwise, or in this case, counter-clockwise.

The ease in which you can use the cycle to modulate (or change to another key), means that composers from the Baroque to rock and pop have used the sequence to help the harmonic journeys in their pieces.

And we couldn't help ourselves in combining it with the great song that happens to be its (almost) namesake: Elton John’s ‘Circle of Life’ from The Lion King, but played as a circle of fifths.

Of course you need a hefty dose of musical genius to make this sort of thing work, so we called on British pianist Dominic Ferris. Dominic is famous for his live performances, improvisations and musical transformations.

We’ll let Dominic explain more about how he made this work (and demonstrate the harmonic magic of the circle of fifths) below.

Dominic is a great follow on Instagram – fun, spontaneous live request sessions are something of a speciality. He’s also part of another fun musical project, The Piano Brothers, and they’re performing in London next month.