I'm wondering when I see chords in the form of: bIII, bVI, #v. Does that mean I am borrowing a chord from the parallel key?

I am currently thinking that "b" is only used when I am currently in a major scale and I want to borrow from a minor scale. So "bIII" would mean I borrow the third chord from minor.

And "#" is when I am currently in a minor scale and I want to borrow from a major scale. so "#v" means I am borrowing the major key's fifth chord. Does this sound right?

  • 2
    Where does '#v' come from? In Cm, for example, that would be G#m, which is a chord neither in Cm or C major. In Cm, Ab maj. is found, and that's called VI, and it's 6, not 5.
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 8:07

1 Answer 1


Not quite. The accidentals on roman numerals often accompanies modal mixture, but not always. The accidental means that the chord's root should be raised or lowered from where it usually is. So, ♭III in C major is E♭ major. However, note that while this is modal mixture, there are times where modal mixture occurs without modifying the root. For example, in G minor, the major key's fifth chord is labelled V (not ♯v). The uppercase letter means major, the lowercase letter would mean minor. Also, note that there are basically no situations in which sharps are used in roman numeral analysis, because coming from a minor key to a major key usually uses natural signs (♮vi).

  • Don't understand why, in a minor key, the five chord would ever be '#v' It will either be V or v. Help!
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 8:03
  • @Tim I think OP may have confused uppercase letters and sharps.
    – user45266
    Commented Oct 29, 2018 at 14:51

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