Parallel Keys and Scales

Parallel key signatures

Brandy Kraemer


Parallel keys are major and minor keys that share the same keynote. G major and G minor are parallel keys, as are F# major and F# minor, etc. (Not to be confused with relative keys.)
Parallel scales have the same order of note letters, and are nearly identical in pitch except for three notes:

  • D Major:  D - E - F# - G - A - B - C#
  • D minor:  D - E - F  - G - A - Bb - C

So, the D minor scale could be interpreted as D Major with a flattened third, sixth, and seventh.

Comparing Parallel Scales

If you listen to parallel scales back-to-back, you can easily hear the difference between the major and minor moods, such as in ♫ G major and G minor scales.

The same can be observed in parallel chords (or “parallel tonic” chords), such as the Ab Maj chord - A - C - E- and the Ab min chord - A - C - E

Also Known As

  • parallel tonic; parallel major/minor; tonic major/minor
  • tonalità parallele (It)
  • tonalité parallèle (Fr)
  • Varianttonart (Ger)
    (Not to be confused with Paralleltonart; German for relative key.)

Pronunciation: PAH-ruh-lell'

Musical Symbols Include:
Staff & Barlines
■ The Grand Staff
■ Key Signatures
■ Time Signatures
■ Note Lengths
Dotted Notes
Music Rests
■ Tempo Commands
■ Accidentals
■ Articulation
■ Dynamics & Volume
■ 8va & Octave Commands
■ Repeat Signs
■ Segno & Coda Signs
■ Pedal Marks
■ Piano Chords
■ Trills
■ Tremolos
■ Glissando
■ Mordents 

Beginner Piano Lessons

Getting Started on Keyboards

To get started, the first step is finding the right piano teacher who can instruct you in various aspects of playing including sitting correctly at the keys, playing piano versus the electric keyboard, chord types and symbols in sheet music, and essential piano chord fingering.

♫ Musical Quizzes

Use online musical quizzes to test your knowledge!

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