Add 3 sharps method

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by SpankBass, Mar 30, 2003.

  1. A friend was teaching me about the "Add 3 sharps" method for figuring out relative minors. Basically you count the current amount of shaprs in the major key you are in (lets say G, 1 sharp) then add three sharps, and whatever key you get from that will be the minor key (4 sharps would be E, so the relative minor of Gmaj is Emin). For flats you would take away 3.

    Anyway the conversation got heated when I said, "Ok, but what about something like B, if you add 3 sharps, you get 8 sharps, what do you do then?" He said something like you take away one sharp from every note to "clean it up" and that leaves 1 sharp left (F#) because it was a double sharp. So he concluded that the relative minor of Bmaj is Gmin.

    I was a bit confused about his method, so I used the good ol fashion method of figuring out the 6th degree of Bmaj and that should be the relative minor.
    B C# D# E F# G# A# b
    But wait a minute, the 6th degree is a G#! And we pretty much argued about this for about an hour. We called a couple friends and they gave mixed answers (one guy even said it was D! And this guy has a masters in music!), so I figured I'd ask you pros, then print out the thread and rub it in my friend's face. :D

    Also, using the add 3 sharps method, how would you CORRECTLY figure out the relative minor when the amount of shaprs exceeds 7?
  2. Davehenning


    Aug 9, 2001
    Los Angeles
    There is an easier method.

    The relative minor key is the sixth of it's parent key.

    If you are in G maj count up six to E.
    E- is Gmaj's relative minor. So you use the Gmaj key signature for E- minor. Apply to all keys.

    Fmaj.......count up six. D minor. The one flat from Fmaj is D minor's key signature.

    Hope this helps
  3. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    You know, IMO that's one of those short cuts that makes things harder instead of easier. Seems to me the easiest thing is just to remember that the relative minor is a minor third down from the major. Or a major sixth up.
  4. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    I wouldn't. I've never thought of doing it that way - no point.

    I know the relative minors off the top of my head anyway, but if I didn't, I'd just go down a minor 3rd (or, up a major 6th if you like). Can't go wrong!

    Anyhow, I can't believe the guy was actually arguing what the relative minor of B is for that long...

    Though - using that method, where to take off 3 flats - what happens when there's less than 3 flats in the key sig?

    Rhetorical question - what you do is, you add a sharp. So, F major (1 flat), you take off three flats - but since there's only one, you take off 1 flat, and add 2 sharps - which gives you D major.

    Anyhow, it's still a long way round.

    Spanky, forget that method.
  5. Apparently this is the method being taught in his theory class and a different theory class that another friend is in.
  6. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    Wierd!! I don't see any advantage in it!
  7. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    It's a ludicrous method IMO. It has the dubious distinction of being both more laborious and more likely to lead to the wrong answer.

    But if somebody absolutely must use that method, I guess you could do it like this for keys like B and F#, which would leave you with more than 7 sharps when you add 3: Look for any notes that carry double sharps. In the case of B, that would be the F. If we only had a single F#, that would yield G minor, but since the F is double-sharped, you have to kick it up a notch, and the key has to be G# minor. Or consider F#: if you add 3 sharps, you end up with F and C double-sharped. F# and C# would give you D minor, but because they're double-sharped, you again kick it up a notch, and the relative minor has to be D# minor.

    I still think this is a ridiculous way to do it. Maybe I'm wrong, but how many people would know the key signatures well enough to apply this method, but wouldn't know what a minor third or major sixth is?
  8. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
  9. geshel


    Oct 2, 2001
    Funny, when I read the title I thought of this little trick I learned recently: If you have a major pentatonic scale, sharp three of the notes (not the root or the fifth), and you get a minor pentatonic scale.



  10. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    add 3 sharps? you WOT!

    6th mode of ionian = aeolian
    = tonic up a major 6th or down a minor 3rd

    easypeezy... add 3 sharps, tsss

    tell your mate he's a loser and kick him in the balls. sheesh ;)