Relative & Parallel / Music Theory Lesson

Author: sleepfreaks

Finding the Relationship Between Major and Minor

This time we will be using the words “relative and parallel”,
to take a look at the relationship between major and minor keys.

If you remember all the topics we’ve covered until this point, it should be easy to understand!

In addition, this information is crucial as it ties into other concepts that will come later in this series.

Lets dive right in.

First lets take a look at the Circle of Fifths which we took a look at in an article.
Here you can see lower-case “m”s symbolizing minor keys.


We had previously written “✴︎ We will take a look at the inner m (minor) later.”
but now we’re ready to progress onto this information.

Pay attention to the C major key and A minor key.


They both contains only white key notes with no # or ♭.
Lets take a look on notation and the piano roll.

C Major


A Minor


Here we have it on the piano roll.


When we start playing the C major scale from the 6th note, it becomes the A minor scale.
The key is that despite having different starting points, they are made up of the same notes.

The keys that are displayed on the same line,
and contain the same relative notes with each other

are called relative keys.

As seen above, the relative key of C major would be A minor.
You can also word it as A minor being the relative minor of C major.

With this in mind, lets take a look back at the “C minor scale” from our last article.



Where can we find a major key with 3 b’s (B,E,A)?
Lets take a look at where Cm is.


We have Eb Major.


Just like the C minor scale, it as B♭, E♭, and A♭.

This means that the relative key/minor to Eb Major is C minor.
Lets sequence it into the piano roll.


By starting from the b3 of the minor scale, we end up playing the relative key major scale.

In addition, lets take a look at parallel as well.
This is important info that will tie into later concepts.

Put simply, it refers to keys that start with the same note / have the same tonic/root.

  • C Major’s parallel key/minor is C minor
  • A Major’s parallel key/minor is A minor


Revisiting our last article,
by lowering the 3, 6, and 7 of a major scale, we can create a minor scale.

By doing so we have created the parallel minor.
Be sure to keep this information in mind as well.

Article Writer: Kazuma Itoh

講師 伊藤
After moving to the USA at 18 years of age with a scholarship from Berklee, he completed a 4 year study focused on song writing and arranging there.
Using this knowledge, he works across a variety of fields from pop music, film music, and more.