Understanding Relative Minor and Major Scale

Each existing relative minor and major scales share the same notes, the only major difference is that tonic is different. In the key of C major, the tonic is C in the key of A minor the tonic is A. The notation, however is the same.

C Major: C D E F G A B C
A Minor: A B C D E F G A

for a good understanding of what a Tonic is, please refer to the link at the end of this post, however to keep it simple, The Tonic is the pitch, and point of reference in any musical piece, thus in the scale of C, the scale is named after its tonic which would be the note of C, in A minor the tonic is A and so on.

Okay back to relative minors and majors, starting with the scale of C, the relative minor would be A, because it is in 6th scale degree of C.

So if you already know the major Key, you can quickly find the relative minor by counting six notes with the scales degrees.

For example:

Scale Degrees: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 1
C Major Scale: C D E F G A B C 

The Minor of any major key will always start on the 6th scale degree, so in the case of C the relative minor is A minor. Taking a look at the G major scale, the 6th note is E so therefore the relative minor is Em.

*On a side note, take a look at the 4 and 5 scale degree notes. Now think of 12 bar blues, the progression chords are 1, 4, 5 or in roman numerals, I, IV, V. Understanding scale degree is quite useful in any key. 

Scale Degrees: 1 2 3 4 5 6  7 1
G Major Scale: G A B C D E F# G

On paper, write down the relative minor key in each of these scales. As well, play the corresponding 1 Chord position then move to the 6 chord, and hear how they sound together.

Scale Degrees: 1 2  3 4 5 6  7 1
D Major Scale: D E F# G A B C# D

Scale Degrees: 1 2  3 4 5  6  7 1
A Major Scale: A B C# D E F# G# A

Scale Degrees: 1  2  3 4 5  6  7 1
E Major Scale: E F# G# A B C# D# E

So with this in mind, starting at the tonic note, if we were to have the A minor, then we would count 3 to the right in order to find
the Major key.

C Major: C D E F G A B C
A Minor: A B C D E F G A

Understanding Tonic:

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