Major Relative Chords

Understanding major relative chords is essential if you wish to play progressions that span both minor and major key centers with consistent sound.

To put this concept into action, take each major scale you know and identify its corresponding minor scale – and practice this until it becomes second nature.

Root Note

Root notes of chords are the lowest-sounding notes and usually correspond with the first letter in their names. Every chord contains three root notes – its lowest-sounding note (commonly referred to as R – 3 – 5); one third above it and five fifths (known as its R- 3 – 5 acronym).

A major triad is composed of three notes stacked atop each other. The first two of these will correspond with the beginning and middle notes in a major scale; and the third note serves as its tonic note.

Tonics are crucial elements in all forms of music, since all songs tend to return to them for resolution and balance. Without one, songs would feel unstable and disjointed; choosing which note or chord serves as your tonic will have an enormous effect on its tone; for instance if your melody uses C Major scale but an A minor root chord instead, its sound will change accordingly resulting in darker and sadder melodies.


Understanding triads is an invaluable asset for any producer or songwriter. These simple yet powerful chords form the basis of melodies and harmonies that are captivating and emotionally moving – from major triads to minor and diminished ones, their versatile sound will add depth and emotion to your tracks.

Recognizing a triad is easiest when its interval from root to third or fifth is of distinct quality; for a major triad, this should be major; while in minor ones it will usually be minor.

Note that triads can be written with various interval qualities from the bass voice depending on how they are stacked; this does not change their identification due to octave equivalence (see Example 12), doublings or open spacing in a triad do not change its identity in this regard.

Major Scale

The major scale is an integral part of musical tonality and serves as the cornerstone for chord progressions. It can be utilized across many musical styles to convey various moods and emotions.

All major scales share a standard interval pattern with whole and half steps, for instance in C the C Major Scale features one whole step between E and F as well as half steps leading from B up to its keynote C; this applies regardless of clef or key signature.

Sharps and flats follow an order that is similar, though less important when learning music. Remembering which notes belong where may be difficult for beginner musicians but here is an easy mnemonic to help: do, re, mi, fa, sol la, tib. This will enable you to identify correct intervals among all major scales which also start on one note regardless of their key signatures.

Minor Scale

Understanding the technical theory of scales and chords is only half of the battle; you also must be able to hear them correctly. Minor keys have a very distinctive sound from major ones. One important distinction is that minor scales feature different half and whole tone step patterns than major ones.

Finding a major key’s relative minor is easy – all it takes is three half steps backward from its key signature to locate its relative minor scale, for example a key with four sharps in its signature will correspond with A minor as its relative minor scale. Melodic and harmonic variations of natural minor scale can also be identified by looking at its number of sharps/flats in its signature, like with G major which has two sharps/flats; its relative minor is A minor as is its melodic form (G major = C major = C major), where its relative minor is A minor; other sources could include counting up sixths from tonic or simply looking at sharps/flats in its key signature; C major has three sharps/flats in its key signature which allows easy identification – just follow its key signature to determine its relative minor, melodic minor scale variations from this basic form; melodic or harmonic minor scale variations can help identify its use – other methods exist that enable accurate identification (such as counting up sixth from tonic); other ways include counting up six from tonic, counting up 6 from tonic or looking at sharps/flats within its signature for example G major is C major; hence its relative minor is A minor.