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Unit 2

2.2 Relative Keys: Determining Relative Minor Key and Notating Key Signatures

1 min readโ€ขnovember 2, 2020

Caroline Koffke

Mickey Hansen

2.2: Relative Keys: Determining Relative Minor Key and Notating Key Signatures

Within pieces of music, tonality, or keys, can shift between different keys within major and also shift to minor keys. Many songs or pieces of music do this! Sometimes we refer to either major or minor as a mode. There are other types of modes, but we won't discuss those until Unit 8 <hyperlink to Unit 8>.


For example, if a piece of music shifts from G major to G minor, this would be considered a "change in mode."

On the aural portion of the APยฎ Music Theory test, you will NOT be required to identify the letter name of a key simply by ear, blindly. Nowhere in the APMT test will you required to have absolute pitch, aka "perfect pitch."


You WILL, however, be tested on relative pitch, which all musicians will develop with time. For example, you may have to listen to a piece of music and identify if a section changes from major to minor. You wouldn't have to identify by ear that it changes from A major to F# minor.

๐Ÿฆœ Polly wants a progress tracker: Listen to the following excerpt of this piece by Chopin. When does it change tonalities?

Listen to Chopin's piece!

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Exam Skills

Unit 1: Music Fundamentals I: Pitch, Major Scales and Key Signatures, Rhythm, Meter, and Expressive Elements

Unit 3: Music Fundamentals III: Triads and Seventh Chords

Unit 4: Harmony and Voice Leading I: Chord Function, Cadence, and Phrase

Unit 5: Harmony and Voice Leading II: Chord Progressions and Predominant Function