If I'm in a major key and I have a progression from the three chord to the six chord borrowed from the parallel minor (modal mixture) I would go:

iii bVI

But if I was in a natural minor key scale and I want my progression to go from the three chord to the six chord borrowed from the parallel major then would it be:

bIII vi

or would it be:

III vi <-- because isn't the three chord in a minor scale generally considered III?

enter image description here

  • I understand what you mean, but: Is 3rd chord correct? shouldn’t it be: Triad of 3rd degree? Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 6:59
  • @AlbrechtHügli I don't think triad of 3rd degree is right, since 3rd degree could mean the 3rd note inside a chord. I just mean the 3rd diatonic chord of the key.
    – user34288
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 7:12
  • And I just thought the opposite: the 3rd is always the interval of a 3rd. :) but English isn't my mother-language. I'm learning the terms here in this SE: music.stackexchange.com/questions/20624/… Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 8:03
  • You are confusing key with scale. Harmonic analysis has to do with keys, not scales. I see you corrected "natural minor key" to "natural minor scale," but the proper correction would have been to "minor key": when a piece is in, for example, D minor, we do not say that it is in D harmonic minor, D melodic minor, or D natural minor. It's simply D minor.
    – phoog
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 15:29

5 Answers 5


Let's try to write out a list. (Leaving out dims on purpose - no help here!).

In key C major - C=I, Dm=ii, Em=iii, F=IV, G=V, Am=vi.

In key Am - Am=i, C=III, Dm=iv, Em=v (E=V), F=VI, G=VII.

In key Cm - Cm=i, E♭=III, Fm=iv, Gm=v (G=V), A♭=VI, B♭=VII.

There is NO natural minor key. There are natural minor notes, but only minor keys!

Does the list above hold your answer?


In key C major, going to key C minor, chord 3 is E♭. So, using C major notation, it'll be ♭Ⅲ. Chord 6 is A♭, so it'll be ♭Ⅵ.

  • Might've made a mistake calling it a natural minor key, I probably meant natural minor scale. But I asked how to notate borrowing chords from a parallel key. Not sure why you listed out the diatonic chords of those keys. (you forgot the diminished ones btw)
    – user34288
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 7:46
  • Omitted on purpose! Lists include parallel key chords, don't they?
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 7:49
  • hmm it's super late where I live my brain isn't functioning. but this answer is a bit too cryptic for me to understand right now. I just want to know if I should say 'bIII vi' or 'III vi' in my progression.
    – user34288
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 7:52
  • 1
    Neither, as both are major, so need capitals! Sweet dreams!
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 7:55
  • I think foreyez wants E flat major into A minor chords.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 11:47

If I understand the question (correct me if I misunderstood), for example in Cm, you wish to go from and E major to an A major chord.The way I've seen this notated would be #III followed by #VI. The # before the chord means raise the root and the numerals mean a major chord.

  • I think foreyez wants an A minor chord, not an A major chord.
    – Dekkadeci
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 11:46
  • I so, then #vi would be the symbol. Strangely, almost every example that I see in texts use chords with lowered roots; the only chords with raised roots that I have seen were in an explanatory note about using a sharp sign not a natural sign to indicate such a root (which was what I had searched for.)
    – ttw
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 13:03

3 major to 6 parallel minor is correct, iii-bVI. 3 minor to 6 parallel major is bIII-vi. One should establish the correct interval from the tonic when labeling chords with Roman numbers regardless of whether it’s a major or minor key.

In the key of C (major or minor) the first example is Em-Ab and the second is Eb-Am

Also, FYI chords are not generally called “the third chord” but rather “the three chord” or in the case of your first example, “the three minor chord to the flat six chord”. If a chord is anything other than a major triad it should be identified.

  • In this kind of analysis, minor chords are designated using lower case, majors with caps (upper case).
    – Tim
    Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 8:17
  • That’s right @Tim, thanks. I used the way he wrote his question as a guide in that regard as I actually learned all caps myself coming from a more jazz and pop background. Commented Apr 8, 2020 at 8:20

Let’s say we’re in a-minor. You mean:

III(a-minor) = C -> bVI of parallel key (A-major) = F

your question:

iii (A-major) = c#m -> bVI of parallel key (a-minor) = F

your question:

Is this bVI F-major or f-minor chord?

As you change from A-major to a minor bVI = f,a,c = bVI -> F-major chord.


This question illustrates perfectly the sort of muddle that is caused by labelling the three triad of a minor scale III rather than ♭III. A minor 3rd is still a minor 3rd whatever scale it occurs in. It's ♭III in my book.

However, people DO use the convention of calling Eb ♭III in a C major context, III in a C minor context. All I can advise is to make it clear which convention you're using. Illustrating a discussion with notated examples can help.

(Also, is there some confusion between 'parallel major' and 'relative major'?)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.