Teach Yourself Music Theory – 23.) Relative Versus Parallel Keys

We have talked about this before when covering major and natural minor scales. So be sure to review those sections if these concepts seem unfamiliar or difficult.

Relative keys, are two key that share the same number of accidentals. We know that the key of D Major and the key of B minor are relative keys because they both have the same number of accidentals added to their key signature (two sharps).

We figured this out before that in a major key, the minor key (where the natural minor scale is derived from) is a m3 interval below the tonic. Vice-versa, in a minor key we can tell that the relative major is a m3 above the tonic.

Parallel keys are ones that don’t necessarily (if ever) share the same accidentals, but share the same tonic.

Let’s take a look at the two parallel keys of C major and C minor:

Notice how they don’t have the same accidentals, but they do share the same tonic of C. More to come on how to use parallel keys in composition, but more now this is learning on how to distinguish between relative and parallel keys.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Author: Bryan M. Waring

Bryan Waring is a graduate of USM's School of Music with a B.M. in Performance – Composition and is now attending Belmont University for a M.M. in Commercial Media – Composition & Arranging. During his time at USM, he studied violin with Dino Liva and composition with Dr. Daniel Sonenberg, as well as has premiered several pieces during the semiannual Composer's Ensemble concert series. In 2017, Bryan was a writer for the original musical theater work of "Molded By The Flow," directed by Paul Dresher and Rinde Eckert. Outside of school, Bryan has been involved with writing music for videogame developers at Portland's CI2 Lab, collaborating with the King Tide Party, and studying with Larry Groupé (Straw Dogs) in San Diego. Now living in Nashville. Along with composing, Bryan teaches music to children, receiving the Master Teacher Award for his work at ESF Camps; and does audio engineering for live ensembles. Besides talents in music, Bryan is a team-player in any competitive work environment; equipped with skills in leadership, organization, mathematics, creativity, communication, and managing. On the side, Bryan has worked as a model for several skilled artists in the New England area. Among his other accomplishments include obtaining the rank of Eagle Scout in April 2013 with a project of building a side parking area with guide rails for Webb Mountain Park in Monroe, CT.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: