Finding the Parallel Minor of a Key

To understand a parallel minor of a key, you first have to understand what it is. It is a minor of a particular major key which share the same common note factor. For example, G major and G minor may have different modes and sound different, but they share the note of G as their common factor or tonic as it is called. It is the relationship of the minor to the major of the note that makes it parallel.

Finding The Parallel Minor Of A Key

Its use in music began when composers started borrowing chords from the parallel key in the early 19th century. They were able to give a song a different feeling, or a saddening of the tone by switching from a major key to its parallel minor. Of course, they could also brighten a song by doing the reverse.

Finding The Parallel Minor Of A Key

There is a specific formula for calculating key signature of these parallels. You add three sharps or flats to the key signature to change to the major or minor parallel, respectively.

Finding The Parallel Minor Of A Key

For example, flats appear in the order B-E-A-D-G-C-F and sharps appear in the opposite order on a key signature, so if to change to a minor of a key, you would add 3 flats to the key signature. So if the key of F major only has B flat, then by adding the next three in the sequence, it would have B-E-A and D flats for the parallel minor of F major.

Finding The Parallel Minor Of A Key

Sometimes, it can be confused with a relative minor, which is found by counting down three steps of a major scale or up 6 scale steps. The two will always have a different key signature of sharps or flats. It can be the most confusing when you don’t take them in the normal progression.

For example, you would start with the major scale of a key, then to make a minor scale key starting on the same note or tonic, you would have to use different notes to get that pattern of steps using the same tonic note. A natural minor scale beginning on the same note could be known as its parallel minor, versus starting for a relative minor, which is starting the six scale steps higher or three lower.

If this is still confusing, don’t feel alone. It takes some thought to compose, but by using these two rules, you can figure out the minor scales, whether they are relative or parallel. Another thing to remember is that the major scale and relative minor share the same key signature, while the parallel will have a different one.

It is also possible to have parallel majors of a minor key, which uses these same rules. Understanding how you can use these variations of the same key will come in handy for adding interest and key switching to your guitar music. Understanding the principles of a parallel minor scale is the most frequently used because major scales are easier to understand initially, so it is a natural progression for most players.

Jesse Nash is a seasoned musician that has been helping beginners to the more advanced learn to play the guitar and understand the theories and techniques involved. Jesse has almost 40 years of experience and has picked up many tips and tricks from other artist along the way. Jesse offers a wide range of programs and services to help guitar players achieve their goals. Visit and find out how Jesse can help you.

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