Relative Major and Minor

Every major key has a relative minor, and vice versa. Finding these relatives can be achieved in two ways. The first involves counting up, or down, from the tonic of a major key to the sixth degree of that major scale.

In C major it would be


and in D major it would be


The sixth degree of the major scale is its relative minor; A minor is the relative minor of C major, while B minor is the relative minor of D.

The other way involves using intervals to locate the relative minor. The relative minor is always a Major sixth up from the tonic of a major key, or a minor third down from the tonic.


Types of Minor Scales


There are three types of minor scales:

  • The Natural Minor scale
  • The Harmonic Minor scale
  • The Melodic Minor scale


The natural minor scale includes the same notes as its relative major. For example, A natural minor contains the same notes as C major but A is its tonic instead of C.

Anat minor

The harmonic minor scale also contains the same notes as its relative major but its seventh degree is raised


in this case G is raised to G sharp.


The melodic minor scale has two forms, the ascending form and the descending form.

Its descending form is the same as the natural minor scale


while the ascending form raises the sixth and seventh degrees

Untitled copy

in this case the F and G are raised to F sharp and G sharp respectively.