# I'm Trying to Understand Parallel Major/Minor Keys

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Posted (edited)

Hello. While the title is upfront, there's a reason I'm stating this. I've recently watched a video made by 8-Bit Music Theory. I'm not very savvy in music theory, but I think I'm at least knowledgeable of it to some degree. At 10:20 of his video, he has the theme of Brinstar play. It goes G, B♭(sus2), G, B♭(sus2). He then says that if this was more generic music like Zelda or Pokemon, the music would be G, then F, making it a major ♭VII rather than ♭III(sus2), and states that they're both borrowed from the parallel key of G minor, even though the chord shows G major. This is what I found about each of those scales, and I'm no music theorist, but it's not making any sense to me.

F major is F, G, A, B♭, C, D, E, F

G major is G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G

G minor is G, A, B♭, C, D, E♭, F, G

I'm trying to figure out why he says ♭VII (F major) ♭III(sus2) (B♭ major?) are from G minor, which F major has B♭ and F natural, G major has B natural and F#, while G minor has B♭, E♭, and F natural in it. Sorry if I'm confusing. I tried to ask in a way that's not confusing, because I'd really like to understand what I'm not currently able to at the moment. Also, I did look up major/minor parallel keys on YouTube, but they don't seem to reflect what is stated in 8-Bit Music Theory's video below. Or maybe they do and I'm just not getting it, obviously.

Edited by Uffe von Lauterbach
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He's talking about the chords build upon those scale degrees in the parallel minor key, not the scale.  Don't think about the key of F major.  He's only talking about the keys of G major and G minor.  So each time he shows a chord symbol at the top of the staff he's indicating what chord it is not the key.

So a chord built upon the third scale degree of G minor is Bb major.  If you build a chord on the seventh scale degree of G minor you get F major.  He's making an assumption about "generic" sound based on his own experiences.

When notes and chords are "borrowed" from relative major and minor keys, it's usually done to change color or add interest.  The composer chose to do these things to achieve a sound more interesting than using just G major.

I hope that helps in your understanding.

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, Hemophiliac said:

He's talking about the chords build upon those scale degrees in the parallel minor key, not the scale.  Don't think about the key of F major.  He's only talking about the keys of G major and G minor.  So each time he shows a chord symbol at the top of the staff he's indicating what chord it is not the key.

So a chord built upon the third scale degree of G minor is Bb major.  If you build a chord on the seventh scale degree of G minor you get F major.  He's making an assumption about "generic" sound based on his own experiences.

When notes and chords are "borrowed" from relative major and minor keys, it's usually done to change color or add interest.  The composer chose to do these things to achieve a sound more interesting than using just G major.

I hope that helps in your understanding.

This is a very good explanation, and I appreciate you answering in a way that isn't confusing for me. The part that confused me about this video is that he uses the G major chord. At least I assume this because it says G and not Gm. So that's partially the reason I got confused as to why he said it was borrowed from the parallel minor key while showing in text "Both borrowed from G minor". But after reading your post, I think I now understand where the B♭(sus2) is coming from. I'm going to go ahead and keep the information you shared so I have a better understanding in case I somehow forget in the future. Thanks again!

Edited by Uffe von Lauterbach
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9 hours ago, Uffe von Lauterbach said:

This is a very good explanation, and I appreciate you answering in a way that isn't confusing for me. The part that confused me about this video is that he uses the G major chord. At least I assume this because it says G and not Gm. So that's partially the reason I got confused as to why he said it was borrowed from the parallel minor key while showing in text "Both borrowed from G minor".

haven't watched the vid but likely he meant Bb and F with "both". both those chords would be functions of the G minor scale. though the F could also be a function of G mixolydian mode, while Bb more significantly demands a change to some scale including the minor third interval of G. meaning the latter is definitely a more "decisive" chord.

you can easily play a lotta stuff over a simple G - F chord structure, and be very ambiguous about whether it's a major or minor G scale. I - bVII is good for bluesy stuff eg., meaning you play around with the "blue notes".

with G - Bb however, you're way more clearly going from a major G to a minor G scale, and back again.

if i were you i would play around a bit with the classic 12 bar blues scheme. even just a simple I - IV progression is enough to see how gratifying it is to eg. change from a major third to a minor third, whenever the change to IV happens. that's blue notes.

"the blues" is a good conceptual counterpart to the whole diatonic or greek scale stuff. it enables a better understanding of most of our contemporary 20th century music, without being too technical. rock, metal, jazz, you name it.

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