We know that the notes as well as the chords in a major scale and its relative minor scale are the same.So, how does soloing in a major scale differ from soloing in its relative minor scale?

2 Answers 2


Regarding: "Figuring out the difference between major and relative minor scales" (and more).

If you know the C Major scale, and the relative minor, A minor, then you know the scales of two of the modes, C Ionian, and A Aeolian. You should know you can play scales with all of the other modes, too and they all sound different, but all are from a Major scale. Here’s the rest of the story.

A, Aeolian, the relative minor of C Major is the sixth degree of the C Major scale. When you name it, it is called A Aeolian. If you compare it to the A Major scale which has F#, C# and G#, this scale has a flat 3, flat 6 and flat 7. Thus the sharps in A Major are flattened when the scale is played in C Major. It also sounds totally different from when you start the scale with C.

Each of the modes has it’s own signature. As mentioned, in C Major the scales are I, C Ionian, ii, D Dorian, iii, E Phrygian, IV, F Lydian, V7, G Mixolydian, vi, A Aeolian, and vii b 5, B Locrian.

In C Major the Ionian beginning on C, has no sharps or flats. ii, Dorian has a flat three and flat 7, iii, Phrygian has flat 2, flat 3, flat 6 and flat 7, IV, Lydian has a sharp 4, V7, Myxolydian has a flat 7, vi, Aeolian has flat 3, flat 6, flat 7 and vii, Locrian has flat 2, flat 3, flat 5, flat 6, flat 7.

This goes beyond what you asked for, but, I included it for perspective as I think you have to take into account all the modes when your refer to the relative minor. So, that’s the broader picture of how the relative minor fits in to the scheme. You can’t leave the other modes out and appreciate how the relative minor fits in. These concepts apply to all the Major scales. Modes are not some dusty old concept. Musicians apply these scalesa when playing.


The only difference in a major scale and its relative minor, is the tonic center.

When you solo on C major scale, you play with the C as your tonic. If you change that, to A (with the A natural minor scale), you will focus on another note and the whole outcome will sound different.

Another way to see what difference the change in the tonic makes are modes. Take the C major scale (ionian mode) and play it. Then play all the other modes (dorian, phrygian etc) which consist of the same exact notes, but each one starts off at a different note, and the outcome is different. It gives a different feel every time.

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    There is no real harmonic gravity with the natural minor scale. You will need the leading-tone from the harmonic minor to establish the tonic-dominant relationship. Jul 25, 2016 at 23:43

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