In my knowledge, a distant key is any key that is not enharmonic, parallel, relative, or closely related to the original key. However, some people claim that distant keys are simply keys that are not closely related or relative, which would mean parallel and enharmonic keys are distant. What is exactly the standard definition of a distant key?

  • Good question! I had to look up the translation and I see I have heard the term but I’ve never thought about it. I think it is some how like old, elder and oldest ... distant, more, diatant, quite distant. Mar 8, 2019 at 6:15
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    As per an answer I left on another of your questions - sometimes when you encounter various different definitions for something, the only conclusion you can draw is that there's no standard definition! One fairly clear metric of 'closeness' for major keys would be the number of notes that the associated scales have in common; for minor keys, that would be complicated by the intricacies of minor tonality. Mar 8, 2019 at 13:29

1 Answer 1


Good question! I think it is some how like old, elder and oldest ... distant, more distant, quite distant, most distant. No distant key at all is only the same key.

I assume the related keys are close keys or next (nearest) distant keys.

I would count to them the relatinship of a perfect fifth. (Difference 1 sign as # or b)

The relative keys have the same signs but differ by the added chromatic leading tones.

The parallel keys difference is 3 signs. Cm

Now we could discuss the variants and their relationship of thirds and consider also relationships between the parallel keys of the fifth-related keys and the variants and parallel keys of C.

Resume: The distance is depedending of the common tones, common thirds and - with other words - the signs as # and b.

So the distant keys will be defined by the amount of different signs and the relatinshp of thirds. The So in C you will exclude F, G, am, dm, em or (define as nearest “related”.

Next relatinship will be found in the parallel keys:

http://learnmusictheory.net/PDFs/pdffiles/03-03-TypesOfKeyRelationships.pdf I habe found this quotation:


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    Congrats on 3000 rep! ;) Mar 8, 2019 at 13:32
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    Than you! This was my goal to revive closed questions ; Mar 8, 2019 at 18:16

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