For starters, I'm fairly new to music theory, but I've been put in an intensive course that's a bit ahead of what I know and I'm trying to catch up. I'm a bit shaky on relative and parallel major/minor scales, but primarily parallel.

Now, I understand that a parallel is a major scale or minor scale with the same tonic, but a different scale. I also understand that, in order to identify where the flat or sharp lies, you must count three diatonic half steps up from the tonic. i.e. G goes to Bb. I understand that identifies the relative scale (Bb) but, is there more I have to do to or is it just memorization of the different key signatures? I apologize if I worded this poorly. I'd appreciate any help. Thank you!
G -> Bb determines the relative major of G minor. Whereas the relative minor of G major would be three half-steps down from G, which is E, so E minor.

Learn to derive major and minor scales from their interval pattern. Tonic - M2 - M3 - P4, etc. That way, you'll always have the format. From there, it's just practice deriving every scale as often as possible until you get it.
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Well u pretty much got Bb major is the same scale as G melodic minor. its that simple the rest is just memorizing the paterns with your fingers and being able to move them around the neck. I started with pentatonics and then just added in the added notes to the major or minor scale.. I personally think its easier to memorize that way.
Quote by Musicrules,man
Well u pretty much got Bb major is the same scale as G melodic minor.\

Wrong form of the minor there. Bb and G natural minor are the same. It is true that G melodic minor can as well, but that's only when it's descending. When it ascends the 6th and 7th degrees are raised.

G melodic minor ascending - G A Bb C D E F# G

Edit: I see you caught that. Disregard the above then

OP, you've got the right idea. The relative is a little sketchy however.

Parallel = Same tonic note, different scale. (C and Cm)

Relative = the major scale and the minor scale which share the same key signature.

For relative, if you start with a major scale, you can count down a third, or up a sixth (diatonically) to get the tonic of the relative minor.
For example:
We're in C major.
C D E F G A B C

As you can see, I can count up a sixth and reach A, or I can count down a third and reach A. The relative minor of C major is A minor. C major has no sharps or flats. A minor has no sharps or flats.

A major = A B C# D E F# G# A

A natural minor = A B C D E F G A

A minor and C major have the exact same notes! They sound different because of which note is our tonic (which changes the harmonic function of the notes in the scale).

Lets go from a minor key and find the relative major.

We'll use your example of Gm.

You did it right. You can count up a third, or down a sixth. That's the opposite of how to find the relative minor from a major key.
Be sure to remember:

MAJOR = 6th up, third down
MINOR = 3rd up, sixth down.

I only really used the upward ones when I was learning about this stuff. As long as you don't get them confused you'll do great. If you get them confused, you'll end up with some strange things that you don't want right now.

I'd suggest that you eventually get extremely comfortable with your key signatures so you can easily tell what key it's in and what your other relative/parallel options are immediately, just from that without having to do any sort of interval counting.

Personally, I use a system of altering the key signature to determine what key signature a parallel scale uses (very helpful with parallel major/minor and modes, which you'll probably encounter. They're way over-hyped on this forum in general and tend to appear in places where they shouldn't, which just confuses a lot of people). I don't know if anyone else uses the same method, but I think it works really well. You just have to have to be solid on your key signatures to use it however. So for now, counting scale degrees, and deriving major/minor scales from the W/H step formulas, and learning the order of sharps/flats and how to figure out what the key is just from the key signature is probably your best bet. It will be a pain at first but you'll get it.

You probably know all of this, but hopefully it will help to reinforce the concept and clear up any haziness.

EDIT: Holy mackerel, this is a long post. I lost my train of thought about 5 times so hopefully it's all coherent and helpful.
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Last edited by FacetOfChaos at Aug 31, 2011,
Facets got it right
Quote by soviet_ska
G -> Bb determines the relative major of G minor. Whereas the relative minor of G major would be three half-steps down from G, which is E, so E minor.

Learn to derive major and minor scales from their interval pattern. Tonic - M2 - M3 - P4, etc. That way, you'll always have the format. From there, it's just practice deriving every scale as often as possible until you get it.

He said parallel.

You've got it TS. Memorising key signatures isn't too hard, just familiarise yourself with the circle of fifths.
Quote by Jesse Clarkson
He said parallel.

Yes, but then he went on to describe relative keys. In either sense, FacetofChaos appears to have covered all the bases.
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