Download Chords, Keys, and Scales - What are they, and

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Major and Minor Scales
1. What is a “key” in music?
A key is a group of notes that are related to each other. The easiest way to think
of a key is to think of a scale. In the key of C major, for instance, the scale notes are C D
E F G A B C. If a song is written in C (major), we can expect it to use mostly those notes,
and when we get to C it will feel like returning home. Pieces in a particular key usually –
though not always – end on that note.
If we saw a lot of sharps in a piece, we might (rightly) suspect it was some other
key than C major – although there may be a few flats and sharps that appear as
accidentals in the music. (Accidentals are extra sharps, flats, or naturals that are not in
the key; they may indicate a temporary key change, or they may just “spice up” the
2. What is a minor key?
Minor keys or scales have a different “flavour” from majors. The reason is that
the distances from one note of the scale to the next happen in a different pattern in major
keys and minor keys.
3. Relative majors and minors
Every major scale has a minor scale that is related to it. The relative minor, as
it’s called, has the same key signature (sharps or flats) as the major. The relative minor is
found three semitones down from the major. Example: C major has no sharps and no
flats. Three semitones down from C is A. “A” minor also has no sharps and no flats.
4. Harmonic, and natural minor scales
The natural minor is like the “A” minor scale mentioned above. It has the same
key signature as its relative major, with nothing added (hence the name “natural”).
The harmonic minor is nicknamed the 7-up scale in MYC, because the 7th note
of the scale is raised. For example, the A harmonic minor scale is A B C D E F G# A.
The 7th note of the natural scale, G, has had a sharp added to raise it.