Finding all the right notes

Forming a musical family in minor

If you understand the previous part, you will soon master the next one too. Normally, by now you can find the right chords to form any major family using the circle of fifths. We can now use this technique to find the chords for any given minor scale.

Bear in mind that the intervals are different, as is the order of the chords. However, we will use more or less the same principle but with a different starting point: the minor circle. Do you remember that within a minor scale the chords 1, 4 and 5 are always minor, while chords 3, 6 and 7 are major? Below, you can see its application using the scale of ‘a’ (read: A-minor).


Like the major circle, the iv chord is on the left and the v chord is on the right in relation to our first chord. Above the tonic, we find the major chords VI, III and VII. When applying this within the key of ‘a’, you will get the chords a, (b°), C, d, e, F and G.

A quick recap: Remember when we talked about a major scale and its relative minor? We just learned to create the families of C and ‘a’, using the circle of fifths. When we put the chords of these families together, it looks like this:

Did you notice that both families share the same notes/chords? That's exactly what I was talking about: we have found the correlation between a major scale and its relative minor (and vice versa)! At the beginning of this section, we began by searching all the notes within a given family. Note that through the theory we’ve learned, we have found a second way to accomplish this. The choice is yours! :)