I have this simple Bm G F#m Bm / Bm G F#7 Bm chord progression. AFAIK, that means I'm in B Aeolian (in the key of D major) - plus that F#7 dominant chord that would put me briefly in B harmonic minor? For some reason I started noodling around in E Aeolian over the loop and many of the notes sound right. Is there any particular reason this happens? I'd like to understand the trick to incorporate it into my playing.

  • 4
    B Aeolian and B harmonic minor aren't keys. B minor is a key. A V7 chord is often used in minor keys because of the strong V7-I relationship. The harmonic minor scale does acknowledge the V7 chord. As you noted, D is the relative major for B minor. E Dorian and E Aeolian only differ in one note(C# vs C), explaining why "many of the notes sound right".
    – user39614
    Nov 19, 2017 at 23:45

1 Answer 1


You're firmly in B minor, basically meaning there's a B note and a D note. B minor has several incarnations, harmonic, natural, melodic, Dorian to name a few. All have subtly different notes, which can crop up almost anywhere in a piece in B minor.

The notes contained in any of the scales in B that are mentioned here will vary by only one note from those of E. B Aeolian has B C# D E F# G A. E Aeolian has E F# G A B C D. C/C# is the only difference. If you happened not to play either while noodling, you have exactly the same set.

Check out how notes differ round the circle of fifths - each neighbour has one note different.

Incidentally, B minor is a key, B Aeolian, harmonic, Dorian are all sets of notes, known as scales or modes, but not as separate keys.

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