parallel key

Parallel key signatures.
Image © Brandy Kraemer

Definition of Parallel Key:

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:


    The same can be observed in parallel chords (or “parallel tonic” chords):

    • Ab Maj chord (♫ listen):   A -  C   -  E
    • Ab min chord (♫ listen):   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:
    Staff & Barlines
    The Grand Staff
    Key Signatures
    Time Signatures

    Note Lengths
    Dotted Notes
    Music Rests
    Tempo Commands

    Dynamics & Volume
    8va & Octave Commands

    Repeat Signs
    Segno & Coda Signs
    Pedal Marks
    Piano Chords



    Beginner Piano Lessons
     ▪  Notes of the Piano Keys
     ▪  The Point Of Double-Sharps
     ▪  Finding Middle C on the Piano
     ▪  Essential Piano Fingering
     ▪  Comparing Major & Minor Chords

    Getting Started on Keyboards
     ▪  Finding the Right Piano Teacher
     ▪  Sitting Correctly at the Keys
     ▪  Playing Piano vs. Electric Keyboard
     ▪  How to Buy a Used Piano
     ▪  Musical Keyboard Comparison Guide

    Piano Chords
     ▪  Chord Types & Symbols in Sheet Music
     ▪  Root Notes & Chord Inversion
     ▪  Diminished Chords & Dissonance
     ▪  Essential Piano Chord Fingering
     ▪  Different Types of Arpeggiated Chords

    Piano Care
     ▪  Everyday Piano Care
     ▪  Safely Whiten Your Piano Keys
     ▪  When to Tune a Piano
     ▪  Easy-to-Spot Signs of Piano Damage
     ▪  Piano Room Temps & Humidity Levels

    Piano Recitals & Performing
     ▪  What to Eat & Drink Before a Performance
     ▪  Concert Etiquette for the Audience
     ▪  Warming Up for a Piano Performance
     ▪  Minimizing Stage Fright
     ▪  Overcoming Mistakes On Stage

    ♫ Musical Quizzes!
     ● Identify the Piano Keys
     ● Key Signature Quiz
     ● Note Length & Rest Quiz (U.S. or U.K. English)
     ● Grand Staff Notes Quiz
     ● Tempo Command & BPM Quiz
     ● Time Signature & Rhythm Quiz
     ● Volume Commands & Dynamics Symbols

    Reading Piano Music
    • Note-Lengths in U.K. & U.S. English
    • Notes of the Piano Keys
    • Memorize the Grand Staff Notes
    • Reading Music Rests

    Piano Chords
    • Easy Bass Piano Chords
    • Chord Types & Symbols
    • Piano Chord Fingering
    • Diminished Chords & Dissonance

    Reading Musical Symbols
    • Note Accents & Articulation Marks
    • How to Play Dotted Notes
    • Accidentals & Double-Accidentals
    • Reading Segno & Coda Repeats

    Beginner Piano Lessons
    • Comparing Major & Minor
    • Understanding the Key Signature
    • Types of Barlines
    • BPM & Tempo Commands
    • Left Hand Piano Fingering


    Helpful Info For Owning a Piano
    How to Safely Whiten Your Piano Keys
    Learn ivory-safe methods for brightening up your acoustic piano keys, and find out what you can do to prevent keyboard yellowing.

    When to Tune a Piano
    Find out when (and how frequently) you should schedule a professional piano tuning to keep your piano healthy and on-pitch.

    Easy-to-Spot Signs of Piano Damage
    Before you buy or sell an acoustic piano, learn how to assess it for both internal and external damage.

    Ideal Piano Temp & Humidity Levels
    Learn how to maintain sound quality and piano health by monitoring the temperature, humidity, and natural light in your piano room.


    Illustrated Piano Chords:
    AbmajAbma7Abma9  |  AbminAbm7Abm9  |  AbdimAb°7  |  AbaugAb+7  |  Absus2Absus4