Somebody told me to check out the parallel minors to open up more options on top of the diatonic scale, I'm just wondering if I did it right.

In the key of E, the diatonic scale is: E, F#m, G#m, A, B7, C#m, D#dim.

In the key of E, the parallel minors are: Em, F#, G, Am, Bm, C, D.

Did I do this right?
Not really. You're getting there but you're confusing a lot of different concepts. I'll start editing this post so I can elaborate.

In the key of E major, the diatonic notes (i.e. the notes in the E major scale) are:
E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#

The chords (with no extensions, i.e. no 7ths, 9ths, etc.) that are diatonic to the key of E major are:
E, F#m, G#m, A, B, C#m, D#dim

In the key of E minor, the diatonic notes (i.e. the notes in the E natural minor scale) are:
E, F#, G, A, B, C, D

The chords (with no extensions, i.e. no 7ths, 9ths, etc.) that are diatonic to the key of E minor are:
Em, F#dim, G, Am, Bm, C, D

E major and E minor are parallel keys since they have the same tonic.

1. Borrowing chords from the parallel minor while remaining in a major key.

or

2. Making a key change to the parallel minor.

So, to sum up what you got wrong (or just maybe wrote in a confusing way, I don't know):
1. There isn't just one "key of E", there's the key of E major and the key of E minor, and they're parallel keys.
2. You don't really refer to chords from the parallel minor as "the parallel minors" because it's a bit confusing. The term "parallel minor" refers to the key.
3. The diatonic chord built on the 2 of E minor is F#dim, not F#
4. You put that B7 chord in there when you were just listing the 3 note chords. It's not really that important, but I just want to make sure you don't think that you have to play a B7 every time; you can just play a B.
Last edited by sickman411 at Mar 9, 2014,
Quote by NewDayHappy
Somebody told me to check out the parallel minors to open up more options on top of the diatonic scale, I'm just wondering if I did it right.

In the key of E, the diatonic scale is: E, F#m, G#m, A, B7, C#m, D#dim.

In the key of E, the parallel minors are: Em, F#, G, Am, Bm, C, D.

Did I do this right?

My tired brain says that looks right apart from the F# in E minor - should be F#m.

What you've got there is the natural minor harmonies. Also look at the harmonic and melodic minor harmonies. The raised notes will change some chord qualities and provide further possibilities.
Quote by UnmagicMushroom
My tired brain says that looks right apart from the F# in E minor - should be F#m.........

.......b5
Quote by UnmagicMushroom
My tired brain says that looks right apart from the F# in E minor - should be F#m.

F sharp diminished!
(edited the post above)

Also, if you're already trying this out, how are you trying to use the chords?
The parallel minor of E major is E minor.

So in E major you have the following diatonic chords:

I = E major
ii = F# minor
iii = G# minor
IV = A major
V = B major
vi = C# minor (relative minor)
vii = D# diminished

The parallel minor is E minor and the diatonic chords to E minor are...

i = E minor
ii = F# diminished
bIII = G Major
iv = A minor
v = B minor
bVI = C Major
bVII = D Major

In a major key the most commonly borrowed chords from the parallel minor is the bIII, bVI, bVII, and the iv chords.

An example is an extended plagal cadence of IV-iv-I. The iv could be considered as being borrowed from the parallel minor.

Another example is the four chord trick I ? IV V (insert pretty much any chord into the ? for a variation of a four chord trick). So you could borrow a chord from the parallel minor to insert there to get I bIII IV V or I bVI IV V.

Another use of parallel major or minor is simply to substitute a major chord for a minor chord. So in C major the iii is Em and the vi is Am. You could substitute the parallel major in for that Em to use E major in the key of C major, or you could substitute the parallel major for that Am and use A major.

As sickman411 noted you can also change keys to a parallel key. This would be changing from the key of E minor to the key of E major. You can take this further too by changing to the parallel of the relative .

So in the key of Am the relative minor would be C major. The parallel minor of C major is C minor so if you were to change key from Am to Cm it would be a change to the parallel minor of the relative major.

Parallel means that it uses the same root note.
Si
Quote by sickman411
Not really. You're getting there but you're confusing a lot of different concepts. I'll start editing this post so I can elaborate.

In the key of E major, the diatonic notes (i.e. the notes in the E major scale) are:
E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#

The chords (with no extensions, i.e. no 7ths, 9ths, etc.) that are diatonic to the key of E major are:
E, F#m, G#m, A, B, C#m, D#dim

In the key of E minor, the diatonic notes (i.e. the notes in the E natural minor scale) are:
E, F#, G, A, B, C, D

The chords (with no extensions, i.e. no 7ths, 9ths, etc.) that are diatonic to the key of E minor are:
Em, F#dim, G, Am, Bm, C, D

E major and E minor are parallel keys since they have the same tonic.

1. Borrowing chords from the parallel minor while remaining in a major key.

or

2. Making a key change to the parallel minor.

So, to sum up what you got wrong (or just maybe wrote in a confusing way, I don't know):
1. There isn't just one "key of E", there's the key of E major and the key of E minor, and they're parallel keys.
2. You don't really refer to chords from the parallel minor as "the parallel minors" because it's a bit confusing. The term "parallel minor" refers to the key.
3. The diatonic chord built on the 2 of E minor is F#dim, not F#
4. You put that B7 chord in there when you were just listing the 3 note chords. It's not really that important, but I just want to make sure you don't think that you have to play a B7 every time; you can just play a B.

Really appreciate this response, I used the Harmonic Minor with the 7th degree flatted half a step.

Should I be using the E Minor Pentatonic instead of the Harmonic? Or could I use both of them?

Can you list any of other keys I can alternate? Is this what modulation is?

Quote by sickman411
(edited the post above)

Also, if you're already trying this out, how are you trying to use the chords?

I'm just going off of ear, I have all the chords written out from the E Major and the E Harmonic Minor. I pick and choose.

A song I made today was:

F#m - B - C x4

A - G#m - F#m x4

Have no idea if I'm doing this right, but it sounded good to my ears. I'm changing modes when I play that chord progression though, right?
Quote by NewDayHappy
Really appreciate this response, I used the Harmonic Minor with the 7th degree flatted half a step.

Should I be using the E Minor Pentatonic instead of the Harmonic? Or could I use both of them?

Can you list any of other keys I can alternate? Is this what modulation is?

I'm just going off of ear, I have all the chords written out from the E Major and the E Harmonic Minor. I pick and choose.

A song I made today was:

F#m - B - C x4

A - G#m - F#m x4

Have no idea if I'm doing this right, but it sounded good to my ears. I'm changing modes when I play that chord progression though, right?

1. The harmonic minor raises the 7th the degree a half step, not flattens it.

2. While one could I suppose, it is not commonplace to build chords with a pentatonic scale.

3. Yes, modulation refers simply to changing key, although it is generally done in specific ways in order not to sound very clunky and disorienting, for example if you were to move from E major to C sharp minor, the chord of G minor is common to both keys so it would be a good chord to use as a transition.

4. Yup, as long as it sounds good to your ear you don't really need to know the theory behind it, although it may help.
Quote by NewDayHappy

Can you list any of other keys I can alternate? Is this what modulation is?

Simply borrowing chords from a parallel minor/major is not modulation. Modulation means changing the (tonal center) key completely. For example going from the G major key to C major. If you play in E major and borrow the iv chord from E minor, you're not modulating because you're still in E major as long as you resolve to an E major chord.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Mar 9, 2014,
Quote by NewDayHappy
Really appreciate this response, I used the Harmonic Minor with the 7th degree flatted half a step.
That's the natural minor that I mentioned before.
Quote by NewDayHappy
Should I be using the E Minor Pentatonic instead of the Harmonic? Or could I use both of them?
The minor pentatonic is just the natural minor missing two notes (the 2 and the b6). Its only purpose is to be a more simple version of the full natural minor, but it's used in a melody context (solos and whatnot). You derive the diatonic chords from the natural minor, and the notes in the natural minor are the ones considered diatonic in a minor key.
Quote by NewDayHappy
Can you list any of other keys I can alternate? Is this what modulation is?
Don't mix up keys and scales. A scale is a bunch of notes; a key is the chord for which the music resolves. There are only major and minor keys. A modulation is a key change in the middle of a piece of music.
Quote by NewDayHappy
I'm just going off of ear, I have all the chords written out from the E Major and the E Harmonic Minor. I pick and choose.
Like I said, do it for the natural minor too. The harmonic minor has two useful chords too: the V chord (which is B [major], in the key of E minor) and the #vii° (which is D#dim in the key of E minor). These two chords are diatonic to the parallel major as well, so they're already there in your case.
Quote by NewDayHappy
F#m - B - C x4

A - G#m - F#m x4

Have no idea if I'm doing this right, but it sounded good to my ears.
It probably sounds pretty nice but it's not in E major or E minor.
Quote by NewDayHappy
I'm changing modes when I play that chord progression though, right?
No. You're not even using modes. You might be changing keys from the first progression to the second one, but it's hard to tell without listening, and it might depend on what notes you play over the chords.
Quote by Tommat
1. The harmonic minor raises the 7th the degree a half step, not flattens it.

2. While one could I suppose, it is not commonplace to build chords with a pentatonic scale.

3. Yes, modulation refers simply to changing key, although it is generally done in specific ways in order not to sound very clunky and disorienting, for example if you were to move from E major to C sharp minor, the chord of G minor is common to both keys so it would be a good chord to use as a transition.

4. Yup, as long as it sounds good to your ear you don't really need to know the theory behind it, although it may help.

Do these notes look right?

Key of A:

Diatonic: A - Bm - C#m - D - E - F#m - G#Dim
Harmonic: Am - B - C -Dm - Em - F - G

Key of B:

Diatonic: B - C#m - D#m- E- F# - G#m - A#Dim
Harmonic: Bm - C# - D - Em - F#m - G - A

Key of C:

Diatonic: C - Dm - Em - F- G - Am - Bdim
Harmonic: Cm - D - Eb- FM - Gm- Ab - A#

Key of D:

Diatonic: D - Em - F#m -G - A - Bm - C#Dim
Harmonic: Dm - E - F - Gm - Am - Bb - C

Key of E:

Diatonic: E - F#m - G#m - A - B - C#m - D#Dim
Harmonic: Em - F# - G - Am - Bm - C - D

Key of F:

Diatonic: F - Gm - Am - A# - C - Dm - EDim
Harmonic: Fm - G - Ab - A#m - Cm- Db - D#

Key of G:

Diatonic: G - Am - Bm - C - D - Em -F#dim
Harmonic: Gm - A -Bb - Cm - Dm - Eb - F

Can I borrow chords interchangeably at will? Or is there some sort of method for substituting them?
Quote by sickman411
That's the natural minor that I mentioned before.The minor pentatonic is just the natural minor missing two notes (the 2 and the b6). Its only purpose is to be a more simple version of the full natural minor, but it's used in a melody context (solos and whatnot). You derive the diatonic chords from the natural minor, and the notes in the natural minor are the ones considered diatonic in a minor key.Don't mix up keys and scales. A scale is a bunch of notes; a key is the chord for which the music resolves. There are only major and minor keys. A modulation is a key change in the middle of a piece of music.Like I said, do it for the natural minor too. The harmonic minor has two useful chords too: the V chord (which is B [major], in the key of E minor) and the #vii° (which is D#dim in the key of E minor). These two chords are diatonic to the parallel major as well, so they're already there in your case.It probably sounds pretty nice but it's not in E major or E minor.No. You're not even using modes. You might be changing keys from the first progression to the second one, but it's hard to tell without listening, and it might depend on what notes you play over the chords.

So the harmonic minor is known also as the natural minor, check.

The minor pentatonic is used for solos, not chord progressions, check.

So a scale is a bunch of notes, a key is a bunch of chords?

A modulation is a change of keys in the middle of the song? Does this mean I'm modulating a key if I change chord progressions in the middle of a song? Let me see if I learned something, you usually use a common chord in both keys, the one you're coming from and the one you're modulating to?

So I'm not in E major or the E natural minor... =(

I wonder what I'm doing wrong, I thought you could substitute chords from the natural minor at will.
Quote by NewDayHappy
Do these notes look right?

Can I borrow chords interchangeably at will? Or is there some sort of method for substituting them?

Yes, you can. Whatever sounds good. Some are more common than others, though.
20Tigers listed some popular ones. Really helpful post, btw.

And btw, your harmonic minors are wrong. The second and seventh degrees in harmonic minor are (half) diminished chords, not major chords. Also, the fourth is a minor chord, not major.

You said:

C harmonic minor:
C minor - D major - Eb major- F major - G major- Ab major - B major

Corrected:

C minor - D diminished - Eb major- F minor - G major - Ab major - B diminished

Also, you might wanna call "diatonic" major and "harmonic" harmonic minor.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Mar 9, 2014,
Quote by NewDayHappy
So the harmonic minor is known also as the natural minor, check.
No, the harmonic minor is the natural minor with a major seventh instead of a minor seventh.
E natural minor: E, F#, G, A, B, C, D
E harmonic minor E, F#, G, A, B, C, D#

Quote by NewDayHappy
The minor pentatonic is used for solos, not chord progressions, check.

Quote by NewDayHappy
So a scale is a bunch of notes, a key is a bunch of chords?
A scale is a bunch of notes played in a certain context. A key isn't a bunch of chords. You can use non-diatonic chords and remain in the same key. For any given tonal piece of music, the music will feel resolved ("at home", to use the same old cliché in a particular chord. That's what dictates the key.
(tonal means in a key; don't worry about the term for now)

Quote by NewDayHappy
A modulation is a change of keys in the middle of the song? Does this mean I'm modulating a key if I change chord progressions in the middle of a song?
No, most of the time you change the chords but you remain in the same key.

Quote by NewDayHappy
Let me see if I learned something, you usually use a common chord in both keys, the one you're coming from and the one you're modulating to?
That's a common way to do it but there are other ways.

Quote by NewDayHappy
So I'm not in E major or the E natural minor... =(

I wonder what I'm doing wrong, I thought you could substitute chords from the natural minor at will.
You could use an E chord, for starters. You can't just use any of these chords at random and assume it's in the key you're thinking of.

As an example, say you have a progression that's just A - F#m.
Which key are you in?
E major? A major? D major? C# minor? F# minor? B minor?
And that's just assuming both chords are diatonic.

You can't just say something is in E major just because the chords could possibly be used in E major. Especially since virtually any chord could be used in E major.
Last edited by sickman411 at Mar 9, 2014,
Quote by 20Tigers
The parallel minor of E major is E minor.

So in E major you have the following diatonic chords:

I = E major
ii = F# minor
iii = G# minor
IV = A major
V = B major
vi = C# minor (relative minor)
vii = D# diminished

The parallel minor is E minor and the diatonic chords to E minor are...

i = E minor
ii = F# diminished
bIII = G Major
iv = A minor
v = B minor
bVI = C Major
bVII = D Major

In a major key the most commonly borrowed chords from the parallel minor is the bIII, bVI, bVII, and the iv chords.

An example is an extended plagal cadence of IV-iv-I. The iv could be considered as being borrowed from the parallel minor.

Another example is the four chord trick I ? IV V (insert pretty much any chord into the ? for a variation of a four chord trick). So you could borrow a chord from the parallel minor to insert there to get I bIII IV V or I bVI IV V.

Another use of parallel major or minor is simply to substitute a major chord for a minor chord. So in C major the iii is Em and the vi is Am. You could substitute the parallel major in for that Em to use E major in the key of C major, or you could substitute the parallel major for that Am and use A major.

As sickman411 noted you can also change keys to a parallel key. This would be changing from the key of E minor to the key of E major. You can take this further too by changing to the parallel of the relative .

So in the key of Am the relative minor would be C major. The parallel minor of C major is C minor so if you were to change key from Am to Cm it would be a change to the parallel minor of the relative major.

Parallel means that it uses the same root note.

Quote by Elintasokas
Yes, you can. Whatever sounds good. Some are more common than others, though.
20Tigers listed some popular ones. Really helpful post, btw.

And btw, your harmonic minors are wrong. The second and seventh degrees in harmonic minor are (half) diminished chords, not major chords. Also, the fourth is a minor chord, not major.

You said:

C harmonic minor:
C minor - D major - Eb major- F major - G major- Ab major - B major

Corrected:

C minor - D diminished - Eb major- F minor - G major - Ab major - B diminished

Also, you might wanna call "diatonic" major and "harmonic" harmonic minor.

Who is right, here?

Is the 7th a major or a diminished?

Is the 5th a minor or a major?
20Tigers's answer is the diatonic one.

Elintasokas's answer uses the harmonic minor because he was correcting you the other way around. Although technically, if you took all the chords from the harmonic minor you'd have an Eb augmented.

The two chords that Elintasokas changed are not diatonic but they are used a lot (especially the V) and the harmonic minor is meant to accommodate these chords.

You might want to stick with 20Tigers's answer to start with. Forget the harmonic minor for now.
Last edited by sickman411 at Mar 9, 2014,
Sickman, unmagic mushroom, 20Tigers, Elintasokas, Tommat.

Thanks for all your help, I learned more from you guys in 5 minutes then I would have learned in weeks, months or years even by myself.

I'll probably need you guys to help me figure out how to borrow chords from relative minors?

I feel like I have a general understanding of parallel minors now after your guys advice, now hopefully I can learn how to borrow chords from relative minors. Maybe I should start a separate thread for that some other time.
Quote by NewDayHappy
Sickman, unmagic mushroom, 20Tigers, Elintasokas, Tommat.

Thanks for all your help, I learned more from you guys in 5 minutes then I would have learned in weeks, months or years even by myself.

I'll probably need you guys to help me figure out how to borrow chords from relative minors?

I feel like I have a general understanding of parallel minors now after your guys advice, now hopefully I can learn how to borrow chords from relative minors. Maybe I should start a separate thread for that some other time.

There's really nothing to borrow. The relative minor has all the same chords as the parent major scale. The only difference is that the tonal center or "home chord" where you always resolve to(at a cadence), is different.

Last edited by Elintasokas at Mar 10, 2014,
Quote by NewDayHappy
Sickman, unmagic mushroom, 20Tigers, Elintasokas, Tommat.

Thanks for all your help, I learned more from you guys in 5 minutes then I would have learned in weeks, months or years even by myself.

Also, you will probably need weeks, months or years even to really master this. Knowing which chords to use if you want a particular sound takes more than just knowing what you learned in this thread. If you need some guidance, I'd say on the raw theory side, your next step should be looking at the concept of chord functions, and on the experience side, you should take some songs and look at the chords being used and how they fit the stuff you've learned.

Quote by NewDayHappy
I'll probably need you guys to help me figure out how to borrow chords from relative minors?

I feel like I have a general understanding of parallel minors now after your guys advice, now hopefully I can learn how to borrow chords from relative minors. Maybe I should start a separate thread for that some other time.

Yeah, like Elintasokas said, you don't really borrow from a relative major/minor because they've got the same notes.