Parallel keys (or homonym keys) are those tones that have the same tonic (fundamental note – 1st degree) and different mode (major or minor). For example, the parallel key of C major is the C minor.
The parallel minor or tonic minor of a particular major key is the minor key based on the same tonic. In the same way, the parallel major has the same tonic as the minor key.
The difference between parallel keys
You should have noticed that the difference between two parallel chords it’s only in one note: the third. This represents an interesting opportunity when the subject is modulation, because modulating to a parallel key would keep the same tone changing subtly just one note (and this note makes all the difference, because it changes the major mode into minor or vice-versa!).
Don’t worry. We will work more about this subject and we will show examples when we will study modulation techniques. Our intention here in this article it is just bringing a definition of the concept to be able to address it later without problems.
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