In the key of C, where does Cmaj7 fit on the Circle Of Fifths?

I'm writing a song for guitar and am using the chord progression C Cmj7, F Cmaj7, F G, F G C.

I'm new to the Circle Of Fifths but have a rudimentary understanding of it and would like to know where/how to find suitable/compatible chords.


2 Answers 2


Extensions of basic chords (triads) have little to do with the circle of 5ths. They are what they say - extensions, where extra notes are added (often 'piles of 3rds') to the basic major or minor chords.

The circle of 5ths just gives a handy reference point for chords which go together: point to any chord, and the ones either side are the IV and V of that I. As you move further away, V/V reveals itself - a common enough chord in songs, but not diatonic.

The extension 'maj7' is just an extra note added to the ^1, ^3 and ^5 making up the triad. It adds a bit more interest, and can be found in many songs. Equally, those extensions could be M6, M9, 7, and many others, but the extra notes will not affect the function of the basic triad most of the time.


The circle of fifths concerns itself mainly with the relationships between the roots of chords or the tonic note of major/minor keys. Specific chords, like Cmaj7, are a separate issue.

In the case of a particular chord, the question is how it relates to the key of the music. In the key of C major, Cmaj7 is the tonic chord. You can find related roots of chords using the circle of fifths, but the the specific chord depends on whether you're remaining in the same key or shifting keys.

All of the chords in the given song have meaning within the key of C major. That is, they don't include any notes from outside the key. However, introduce a chord like D major (a fifth away from G), and now you've shifted the tonality away from C major, because the F# in the D major chord is not part of C major.

Study functional harmony to gain an understanding of the relationships between chords and how the circle of fifths fits into those relationships.

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