Before tackling this course, you should be comfortable with all the material from Harmonising the scale

We will now bring together everything we have learnt so far and introduce the idea of relative minor scales. This is an important piece of theory to understand as it is an extremely practical concept that will help turn all your major keys and scales into minor without having to do anything to the scale at all! We will finish up the essentials lessons by clarifying everything we have learnt so far and make sure that you are ready to move onto the next level!

Summary: Key construction formula

In the last set of lessons, we spent a lot of time making sure you understand how we get to the formula for key construction. We worked out that the first chord was major, second minor, third minor etc... The great news is that you don't need to do that every time you want to work out a major key. All you need to do is remember the formula which is:

major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished

So here is an example of that in practice using the D major scale and that formula to create the key of D major. Try playing through all of these chords on the guitar and you will hear how they all 'work' together!

Summary: the Relative minor

Today we look at a new concept, which has the potential to confuse, so we will take it slowly! The idea behind learning the relative minor is very practical. Very often we spend time learning one or two shapes on the guitar, or even the theory behind the major scale. Learning how to find the relative minor means you can take the exact same scale but start in a different place to create a new scale. This is potentially a more advanced idea and it will come into full use when we cover modal scales, but is great to get a handle on now. The theory is simple: Take your major scale, start from the 6th degree and you have your relative minor scale.

As you can see, the best thing about this is that all the chords stay the same as well! Suddenly, we have worked out the C major key and A minor key, without doing any extra work at all! Every single major key has a relative minor, so this theory can be applied to any of the keys.

Summary: Relative Minor Example

We asked you last time to find out what the relative minor of D major was, did you manage it? Well, the answer is B minor. The digram below should help you understand it a little more:

Summary: In Practice!

We can practise the above key on the guitar by playing through the chords in D major first, then in B minor. Even though they are the same set of chords, starting and ending on the relative major or minor makes the big difference. Here are all the chords of that key in the recommended positions on the fretboard. Try playing them all from D to D, then from Bm to Bm.

Summary: Relative Minor on the guitar

Let's make the relative minor theory easy to use on the guitar. Firstly, the relative minor is always only 3 frets away from the major. So if you take the C note (assuming you are in C major) and drop down three frets you get the A note, which tells us that A is the relative minor. It works with every key. It also works in reverse, so if you had G minor key and wanted to know the relative major, you just climb up 3 frets to get Bb. Here it is via fretboard diagram.

Summary: Why we need this info?

Knowing the relative minor is so important as it halves your workload on the guitar. Rather than learning 5 shapes for the major scale and 5 for the minor scale, you just learn the major ones and learn how to apply them to the relative minor. Equally, with chords, you can simply learn the chords within the major key and quickly apply it to the relative minor.

On the fretboard above, we have the root note major chords (A) and the two other major chords (D and E). This gives us a solid major sound. When we move down three frets from the root chord (A), we get F# Minor and then can find the 2 other minor chords (Bm and C#m), thus putting us into the relative minor key and making more of a minor sound. Try it for yourself and have a listen.

Summary: Conclusion!

In this final video we recap everything we have learnt up to this point and try to make it all nice and clear for you! There are a lot of similar bits of theory and sometimes the trickiest part is seeing how they all work together. So, if you still don't understand some of the theory after watching this conclusion video then it's very worth going back over those sections a few more times until it sinks in! Have fun!

All done?


You've now completed Theory Lab: Scale Harmonisation and taken a huge step forwards in your guitar playing journey.

Feel free to bask in glory for a while, or go ahead and try another course if you're hungry for more.