# Relative Minor

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by Ankles, Mar 20, 2002.

1. ### Ankles

Jan 6, 2001
BostonMA
Mike,
Can you explain why a relative minor is off the 6 note of a major scale. Can you also explain the signifigance of a harmonic minoy(sharp 7 of the relative minor).

2. ### Mike Dimin

Dec 11, 1999
Ankles,

Sure no problem. The mode built off of the 6th degree of the major scale is called the aeolian mode. The aeolian mode is EXACTLY the same as the natural minor scale. For example the notes of the C major scale are exactly the same as the notes of the A natural minor scale (just a different starting point). Therefore they are called "relative". In classical music you will often see a modulation from the major to the relative minor key (from C major to A minor, in this case).

Now for the harmonic minor. in the minor key the chord built off of the 5th scale degree is a minor chord while in the major key it is a dominant chord. Therefore the dominant to tonic resolution that we hear in the major keys is not evident in the minor keys. It is important that the chord built on the 5th scale degree be a dominant 7th chord due to the tension that and resolution that is created asthe 5 resolves to the 1. We raise the 7th degree of the natural minor scale to create the harmonic minor in order to amke that 5 chord a dominant 7th as opposed to a minor 7th.

Mike

3. ### the_majik_bum

Jan 27, 2002

Well if the notes are the same in both the C major and A minor keys, wouldn't both keys sound the same? So why would it have to change keys?

4. ### Mike Dimin

Dec 11, 1999
The difference is the tonal center or which note is the "home" note. Play a C major scale beginning and ending on C, then play a line that has a "home" of C. Now do the same with A minor - same notes but a very different sound. Tell me how it works

Mike

5. ### the_majik_bum

Jan 27, 2002
whoa!!! thats nifty!! Now i get it, after i got done reading this thread i went any figured out all the relitive minor scales to the major ones on my piano. thats awsome,

thanks Mike

6. ### Mike Dimin

Dec 11, 1999
Cool, ready for the other 5 modes?

Mike

7. ### the_majik_bum

Jan 27, 2002
uhhhh, sure, i don't know what they are but could you tell me them, thanks

8. ### Mike Dimin

Dec 11, 1999
Just as we created a "mode" on the 6th degree of the major scale (the aeolian mode or natural minor scale), there are modes based on each degree of the major scale. Here they are. Learn them and we can talk about how to use them.

2nd degree - Dorian
3rd degree - Phrygian
4th degree - Lydian
5th degree - Mixolydian (VERY IMPORTANT)
7th degree - Locrian

Piano is a good place to learn the sound but also translate that to your bass

Mike

9. ### the_majik_bum

Jan 27, 2002
ya, ive been taking piano lessons, piano is great for theory, ill try those modes out, thanks a lot, your the coolest professional bassist i no(and the only one )

10. ### Ankles

Jan 6, 2001
BostonMA
Mike,
Thanks for the explaination. Why do you suppose my teacher is linking the harmonic minor to the relative minor? He is telling me to learn it first, he will explain later.
He has me writing the scale then the relative minor then the harmonic minor.

I am gonna ask him tonight. He is an old jazzer (about 75). Great resource but rather quirky.

Thanks again. I am very greatful to have htis resource available.

11. ### Mike Dimin

Dec 11, 1999
The harmonic minor is really important. I know I addressed this topic elsewhere and searched for it but, alas, could not find it.

Anyway, the harmonic minor is the same as the natural minor except for a raised 7th degree.

The raised 7th degree makes the V chord of that minor key domiant. Diatonically the V chord of a minor key would be a minor chord.

The dominant 7th chord provides tension which is released as that chord resolves to the I chord. The 3rd and 7th (guidetones) of the dominant 7th chord is an augmented 4th/diminished 5th interval or tritone. The tritone of the dominant 7th chord want to resolve inward to the root and 3rd of the I chord.

That need for tension and release in the harmony is why we will see the Harmonic Minor scale. You wil also note in many minor key songs that the chord based on the 5th is dominant.

Hope this helps
Mike