I have been pushing myself to learn some music theory lately, and I have come across relative keys. Now C contains all natural notes(tones), and Amin has all natural notes as well. So Amin is the relative key to C major. I'm guessing relative key is based on which notes are sharp or flat. Right?

Now my REAL question is directed at the chords played in each key. It's probably really simple, but I just want to make sure I'm right on this before I commit it to memory.

For all the chords you can play in the key of C, are they the same for all the chords in key of Amin? Make sense?

Thanks for checking in, and all advice is welcome.
Quote by mark3777
I have been pushing myself to learn some music theory lately, and I have come across relative keys. Now C contains all natural notes(tones), and Amin has all natural notes as well. So Amin is the relative key to C major. I'm guessing relative key is based on which notes are sharp or flat. Right?

Now my REAL question is directed at the chords played in each key. It's probably really simple, but I just want to make sure I'm right on this before I commit it to memory.

For all the chords you can play in the key of C, are they the same for all the chords in key of Amin? Make sense?

Thanks for checking in, and all advice is welcome.

It basically means that the Relative Minor scale shares all the exact notes of the Major scale, but because of a re-arrangement of the half step and whole step order, it fits the intervalic "signature" of a natural minor.

Also, in a diatonic sense its always the vi chord of whatever the Major Key is.

The chords are the same for Am, except that in terms of a minor key, there are three possible scales that can be used to construct the chords in a minor key - Natural, Harmonic and Melodic minors. That's why you might have a song in the key of Am, and find an E major chord or an E7 in the progression.

Best,

Sean
Ahh, I didn't notice that with the vi chord from the Major key.

That's pretty cool. It makes it a lot easier to figure out instead of looking for each note.

"there are three possible scales that can be used to construct the chords in a minor key - Natural, Harmonic and Melodic minors. That's why you might have a song in the key of Am, and find an E major chord or an E7 in the progression."

I'll have to get into that later, but thanks a lot Sean.
Quote by mark3777
I have been pushing myself to learn some music theory lately, and I have come across relative keys. Now C contains all natural notes(tones), and Amin has all natural notes as well. So Amin is the relative key to C major. I'm guessing relative key is based on which notes are sharp or flat. Right?

Now my REAL question is directed at the chords played in each key. It's probably really simple, but I just want to make sure I'm right on this before I commit it to memory.

For all the chords you can play in the key of C, are they the same for all the chords in key of Amin? Make sense?

Thanks for checking in, and all advice is welcome.

yes to the first question. Relative scales as Sean said contain the same notes but are different scales because they are built from a different root and have different interval structures.

The major scale is 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 (W W h W W W h)

The natural minor scale is 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8 (W h W W h W W)

For your second question - Almost

One very strong feature of the Major scale that the minor scale is missing is a major seventh.

This major seventh forms the the major third in the chord built off the fifth degree.

This major seventh plays a big part in heightening the tension of the V chord and makes it pull more strongly toward the tonic so that when the tonic is played following the V chord it sounds more stable and more like home than it would if that v chord was a minor chord. Try playing Am Dm Em Am and then try playing Am Dm E Am to hear the difference).

the minor scale is missing this stronger resolution because it has a minor seventh. So to achieve this stronger harmonic resolution when moving from dominant to tonic the minor seventh is raised to a major seventh.

As an example if you are in Am then the dominant chord (the chord built off the fifth scale degree) is going to be some kind of E. The natural minor scale will give us Em just as we find in the relative C major scale. However when leading to the Am chord the G is raised to a G# to increase the tension and the chord becomes E Major.

This is so common that this simple change is called the "Harmonic Minor Scale". This is all the harmonic minor scale really is. It's a temporary adjustment to the natural minor scale to make use of the "leading tone" (the major seventh) so that we can create a stronger harmonic resolution as we go from dominant to tonic in a minor key.

From a melodic point of view the leading tone can be just as effective as it is in a harmonic setting. the major seventh to tonic is a strong melodic pull. Much stronger than the minor seventh to the tonic.

But if we are in a minor key and make that minor seventh a major seventh we get other issues. You see the back end of the scale looks like this...5 b6 7 8. If you look at the steps here it would be a semitone step, a three semitone step and another semitone step. It sounds disjointed when we play these four notes like this.

To smooth out this ascending run we raise the minor sixth to a major sixth. This gives us 5 6 7 8 a whole tone, a whole tone, a half tone. It is much smoother and uses the leading tone to lead melodically to the root of the tonic chord.

This is a melodic solution to the lack of a leading tone in the natural minor scale. This solution is called the melodic minor scale. Again all it really is, is a temporary adjustment to the natural minor scale to make melodic use of the leading tone leading moving into the tonic. Most often this is found over a V-i harmonic movement. (so in conjunction with the harmonic minor scale. (however the melodic minor is melodic as opposed to a harmonic device.)

It is so common to raise the seventh degree that often when listing the chords in a minor key the natural minor scale only tells part of the story. The harmonic minor contributes by creating the V.

So often the chords would be considered i iidim bIII iv V bVI bVII i
so in Am it would be Am Bdim C Dm E F G Am

if you were strictly harmonizing the minor scale then you would get the minor v chord so you would have Am Bdim C Dm Em F G Am (the same chord names as the C major scale).

So it can help to think of the minor scale as a more "fluid" scale. A kind of shape shifter. It's "natural" state is the natural minor scale but it will bend and change between these other two "scales" as required to achieve different effects.

The result is that the chords of the minor key are also a bit more fluid.

If we are strictly in harmonizing the natural minor scale then we would end up with the same chords as the relative major. However in practice we often find that the major V chord is just as important in the minor key as the minor v chord. Perhaps even more so.

So are the chords of the minor key the same as that of the relative major - yes and no.

I hope that makes sense and doesn't just confuse you. But I felt it was important.

Best of Luck,

(EDIT: Oops I see Sean also touched on that and you said you would leave it for later. If I had the time I could have written it more clearly and simply so that you could get it straight off but
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at Jan 9, 2012,
Quote by mark3777
Ahh, I didn't notice that with the vi chord from the Major key.

That's pretty cool. It makes it a lot easier to figure out instead of looking for each note.

"there are three possible scales that can be used to construct the chords in a minor key - Natural, Harmonic and Melodic minors. That's why you might have a song in the key of Am, and find an E major chord or an E7 in the progression."

I'll have to get into that later, but thanks a lot Sean.

Yep, that's why I'm here - good luck to you! And, take some time to study 20t's response, he really does give you a lot of meat to chew on...good stuff!

Best,

Sean
Thanks 20Tigers! You guys have been a great help. I was wondering when 7th chords come into play. When I get things a little more organized, I will have to read through your posts again.

Right now my notes are a bit of a mess. I've been teaching myself theory, and I really appreciate the help.

thanks again
Quote by Sean0913
Yep, that's why I'm here - good luck to you! And, take some time to study 20t's response, he really does give you a lot of meat to chew on...good stuff!

Best,

Sean

Yeah My head is about to explode right now. haha. I'll have to check back on this later to let it sink in a bit more.

sorry mate.
Si