Music theory > Lessons > Pitch of sounds > Scales > Relative minor keys

Relative minor keys

Each Major key is associated with a relative minor key. Major keys and their relative minor keys have exactly the same keys signatures.


The relative minor key starts a minor third (third containing 3 half steps united states of america (semitones united kingdom) below its relative Major key. Both have the same key signature.

How to find the relative minor key from a major key?

There are two methods to find the relative minor key from a Major key, I will explain those two methods:


Method #1:

Tonic (first degree of the scale) of the relative minor key is a minor third below the tonic of his relative Major key. Don't forget that a minor third is contains 3 semitones.


Method #2:

Tonic (first degree of the scale) of the relative minor key is the degree VI of his relative Major key.

Examples, how to find the relative minor key from a major key?

Finding the relative minor key of C major key

Here we will try to find the relative minor key of C major key:

C major scale

Method #1:

Tonic of the relative minor key is a minor third below the tonic of C major key.
* Tonic of C major is : C
* a minor third subtracted from C is: A
-> so the relative minor key of C major key is A minor key


Method #2:

Tonic of the relative minor key is the degree VI of his relative C major key, you must count:
I: C
II: D
II: E
IV: F
V: G
VI: A
-> so the relative minor key of C major key is A minor key

And don't forget that there are several kinds of minor keys:

A natural minor scale
A natural minor scale

A harmonic minor scale
A harmonic minor scale

A ascending melodic minor scale
A ascending melodic minor scale

A descending melodic minor scale
A descending melodic minor scale

Finding the relative minor key of A flat major key

Here we will try to find the relative minor key of A flat major key:

A flat major key

Method #1:

Tonic of the relative minor key is a minor third below the tonic of A flat major key.
* Tonic of A flat major is : A flat
* a minor third subtracted from A flat is: F
-> so the relative minor key of A flat major key is F minor key


Method #2:

Tonic of the relative minor key is the degree VI of his relative A flat major key, you must count:
I: A♭
II: B♭
II: C
IV: D♭
V: E♭
VI: F
-> so the relative minor key of A flat major key is F minor key

And don't forget that there are several kinds of minor keys:

F natural minor scale
F natural minor scale

F harmonic minor scale
F harmonic minor scale

F ascending melodic minor scale
F ascending melodic minor scale

F descending melodic minor scale
F descending melodic minor scale

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