The Music Theory Advantage TM
 Quickly Learn and Remember how to Spell
The Major and Natural Minor Scales

Created by
Max Maxwell
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Naming Sharps and Flats for Minor Keys

When you want to know the number and names of the sharps or flats in a minor key, you must first find the relative major key. This is because a major key has the same sharps and flats as its relative minor key. Instead of finding a minor 3rd below the note name of the major key, you must find the minor 3rd above the note name of the minor key. 

A Minor        << minor 3rd >>      C Major
Relative Minor Key                           Relative Major Key


To name the sharps or flats for A Minor, find the minor 3rd above A to get its relative major. One step forward in the Cycle of Thirds from A is C. C is a minor 3rd above A. C Major is the relative major of A Minor. You know that C Major has zero sharps and zero flats, therefore the key of A Minor also has zero sharps and zero flats.

To name the sharps or flats in the key of G Minor, find the note that is a minor 3rd above G. The next 3rd forward in the Cycle of Thirds from G is B. G to B is a major third with four half steps, so lower the result by one half step. G to Bb is a minor third with three half steps. Bb Major (bike-fife-tube-2) has two flats (bike=Bb, ear=Eb).

Therefore G Minor has two flats, which are Bb and Eb.

Exercise P2-9:

Fill in the blanks with the relative major key for each minor key listed. If you are having trouble finding minor 3rds above the minor key note name, take or review the interval portion of the Music Theory Advantage CourseTM. Scroll to the Bottom for answers.

 Minor Key       Relative Major Key        Minor Key       Relative Major Key      


1. A Minor




  8. G# Minor




2. D Minor




  9. Eb Minor




3. F# Minor




10. Bb Minor




4. C Minor




11. Ab Minor




5. B Minor




12. F Minor




6. E Minor




13. D# Minor




7. C# Minor




14. A# Minor




Once you have found the relative major, you know that the minor key you are working with will have the exact same sharps or flats as that relative major key. You have already practiced naming the sharps or flats for all major keys. So onto the next lesson where you will practice spelling the natural minor scales for all minor keys!

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Exercise 9: 1) C Major  2) F Major  3) A Major  4) Eb Major  5) D Major 

6) G Major  7) E Major  8) B Major  9) Gb Major  10) Db Major  11) Cb Major 

12) Ab Major  13) F# Major  14) C# Major 


Copyright 2008-2011 Kenneth J. Maxwell Jr.