Relative Keys

This part will help out understanding some things, as always we are talking about a musical instrument and with musical instruments comes musical theory. We will keep the theory all relevant to what you need to know at this stage, this part is rather important. Ever heard of the relative minors? Or of the Circle of Fifths? Well, if you haven’t then here is a quick crash course on how to understand this and how to apply them to the Cuatro (fun stuff really…you’ll see).

Relative Keys

As the name suggests, relative keys have to do with keys that share something in common. It refers to major and minor scales which share common attributes. Essentially, a major has a relative minor and a minor has a relative major. When playing a progression of chords, including chords from the relative key enriches the music and gives a different effect to the songs or progressions playing. When we say that this needs to happen in a structured way, what we mean is that not to throw the chords in randomly and expect it to sound good. Generally what is done is to play with one key and then using a bridge switch to the relative key, and then switch back. Not to worry we will look at all of this.

Trying To Simplify Things A Bit

When referring to the relative minor, we can compare this to playing a football game outside and asking your little brother or sister to come and play. Conversely we can compare it to asking your older brother or sister to come and join in the fun. Hope that’s simple enough, it’s best to see it in practice when playing a progression and switching over to a relative minor when playing in a relative major key.

Circle of Fifths

Let us consider how to identify the relative minor or relative major of a key. In this example we will make use of D Major and it’s relative minor being B Minor. If we wish to find the position of B with respect to D and start off with D, then we would have to count 5 notes:


If we do this the other way around, we will find that to find the D starting from B then we would have to count 2 spaces:


You can find the relatives with the help of the Circle of Fifths diagram provided below:

Circle of Fifths Illustration


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