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.