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Relative Major and Minor


The basics:

For every major scale there is a related minor scale. These two scales are built from the same notes:


Major Scale: C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C
Relative Minor Scale: A - B - C - D - E - F - G - A


The only difference between the two scales is which note you start with. The minor scale starts from the sixth note of the major scale. The scales are called RELATIVE because they share the exact same notes.

Let's look at a couple more keys, and I'm sure you will get the hang of this one:


Major Scale: G - A - B - C - D - E - F# - G
Relative Minor Scale: E - F# - G - A - B - C - D - E


Major Scale: D - E - F# - G - A - B - C# - D
Relative Minor Scale: B - C# - D - E - F# - G - A - B



Now, the relative minor scale is more often called "the" minor scale and treated as its own separate scale. As such, it's important to understand how the minor scale is constructed. In order to see how the minor scale is constructed, we have to compare it to the major scale starting from the same root note as the minor scale:


A major scale: A B C# D E F# G# A
Intervals: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
A minor scale: A B C D E F G A
Intervals: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8


Compared to the major scale, the minor scale has a flattened 3, 6 and 7, so the minor scale yields this formula:


1 - 2 - b3 - 4 - 5 - b6 - b7 - 8


Once you know the formula, you can build the minor scale from any root note without having to concern yourself with the relative major scale. This is called PARALLEL.

Both methods for arriving at the minor scale are important. Know them well.


The Fingerboard:

Major scale - key of C:



Relative minor scale (key of A minor):




Major scale - key of C:



Parallel minor scale (key of C minor):




The Practice:

Draw up a chart with the notes of every major scale and relative minor scale.

Do it again.

Keep doing it until you don't need a stupid chart to know your scales.

Next, work out the parallel minor scale in every key over the entire fingerboard.

Then, take a break.


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