Definitions

relative major

Relative key

In music, the relative minor of a particular major key (or the relative major of a minor key) is the key which has the same key signature but a different tonic, as opposed to parallel minor or major, respectively. For example, G major and E minor both have a single sharp in their key signature at F; therefore, E minor is the relative minor of G major. The relative minor of a major key always has a tonic a minor third lower.

A complete list of relative minor/major pairs in order of the circle of fifths is:

Key signature Major key Minor key
B, E, A, D, G, C, F C major A minor
B, E, A, D, G, C G major E minor
B, E, A, D, G D major B minor
B, E, A, D A major F minor
B, E, A E major C minor
B, E B major G minor
B F major D minor
C major A minor
F G major E minor
F, C D major B minor
F, C, G A major F minor
F, C, G, D E major C minor
F, C, G, D, A B major G minor
F, C, G, D, A, E F major D minor
F, C, G, D, A, E, B C major A minor

Together with moves to the dominant (fifth scale degree) or sub-dominant (fourth scale degree), modulations to the relative minor or major are the most common in tonal music

Finding the relative major or minor

To find the relative minor of a particular key go down a minor third from the tonic of the major key. Example: If your major key is C major, going down a minor third from the note C will land you on note A. So, A minor is the relative minor of C major. Or instead of going down a minor third you can go up a sixth, or say it is the sixth note in the Major scale

To find the relative major of a particular key go up a minor third from the tonic of the minor key. Example: If your minor key is E minor, going up a minor third from the note E will land you on note G. So, G major is the relative major of E minor.

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