This lesson will delve into the often misunderstood subject of relative minor. The funniest thing is that relative minor is quite an easy concept to grasp if it is taught effectively, which is what I will endeavor to do here 🙂
Relative minor explained
Relative minor is the chord or key, based upon the sixth degree of any major scale, conversely, the relative major is the chord or key based upon the third degree of any minor scale. Another (and easier) way to find the relative minor of a major key is to move down three semitones (or a minor third) from the major keys tonic. For instance: if we are in the key of G major and we wish to find the relative minor of that key, we simply move down three semitones or a minor third from the tonic, G > F♯ > F > E and play either an Emi chord or play in the key of E minor. let's take another example and find the relative minor of C major, we move down three semitones or a minor third, C > B > B♭ > A and play either an A minor chord or play in the key of A minor.
Take a look at the chord progression below, it is a simple I-VI-IV-V progression in the key of C major. The second chord change is to an A minor chord which is, as we discovered before, the relative minor of C major. Now play the chord progression or listen to the sound sample below the chart, can you hear the simplicity of the change? It is after all the most common chord change, you can hear it everywhere in Beatles songs, the Rolling Stones and many other song smiths. Relative minor is not only an important tool to use when writing songs, it is also where we get our entire class of minor chords and scales from, which would have been figured out hundreds of years ago and slowly progressed to what we have today.
|I-VI-IV-V chord progression in the key of C major|
Relative minor chart
Below is a relative minor reference chart which shows the most common keys, you should print it out if you can as this is an important chart particularly for those of you who are songwriters.
|Relative minor reference chart|
|Major key/chord||Relative minor|
|C Major||A Minor|
|C♯ Major||A♯ Minor|
|D Major||B Minor|
|E♭ Major||C Minor|
|E Major||C♯ Minor|
|F Major||D Minor|
|F♯ Major||D♯ Minor|
|G Major||E Minor|
|A♭ Major||F Minor|
|A Major||F♯ Minor|
|B♭ Major||G Minor|
|B Major||G♯ Minor|
I hope I have demystified relative minor for you but if you are still unsure, then go through the lesson again and listen to the audio samples, it will eventually make sense.
Cheers & enjoy!