E-flat minor

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E minor
Relative key G major
enharmonic: F major
Parallel key E major
Dominant key B minor
Subdominant A minor
enharmonic: G minor
Component pitches
E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E
E-flat natural minor scale ascending and descending. About this sound Play 
E-flat harmonic minor scale ascending and descending. About this sound Play 
E-flat melodic minor scale ascending and descending. About this sound Play 

E-flat minor is a minor scale consisting of the pitches E, F, G, A, B, C, and D. In the harmonic minor, the D is raised to D. Its key signature consists of six flats.

Its relative major is G major (or enharmonically F major) and its parallel major is E major. Its enharmonic equivalent is D minor. Changes needed for the melodic and harmonic versions of the scale are written in with accidentals as necessary.

This key is often popular with jazz or blues influenced keyboard players as, using all the black keys along with the F, it allows for an easily playable blues scale.

In classical music[edit]

Despite the key rarely being used in orchestral music other than to modulate, it is encountered in a small fraction of keyboard music, and has been most popular in Russian pieces. For orchestration of piano music, some theorists recommend transposing to D minor or E minor.

In Book 1 of The Well-Tempered Clavier by Johann Sebastian Bach, Prelude No. 8 is written in E-flat minor while the following fugue is written in D-sharp minor. In Book 2, both movements are in D-sharp minor.

Beethoven applied E-flat minor to the slow introduction in the sixth (last) movement of his Septet Op. 20.

Schubert ended his Impromptus in E-flat major, D. 899 No. 2 in E-flat minor, parallel key to E-flat major, and so did Brahms in his Rhapsody in E-flat major, Op. 119 No. 4.

One of the few symphonies written in this key is Prokofiev's Symphony No. 6, where none of these three movements ends in E-flat minor. A few other less well-known composers also wrote symphonies in this key, such as Andrei Eshpai, Jānis Ivanovs (fourth symphony Sinfonia Atlantida, 1941), Ovchinnikov and Nikolai Myaskovsky. Aram Khachaturian wrote his Toccata in E-flat minor while studying under Myaskovsky.

It is also the key in which Dmitri Shostakovich composed his final string quartet.

Alexander Scriabin's Prelude No. 14 from his 24 Preludes, Op. 11, is in E-flat minor, as well as Johannes Brahms's only independent Scherzo, Op. 4.

Sergei Rachmaninoff's Elegie, Op. 3, No. 1, is in E-flat minor, as is his Étude-Tableau, Op. 39, No. 5. These pieces are noted for being dark and mysterious (a characteristic of this key), as shown even in the later jazz compositions "'Round Midnight" and "Take Five", which are also in the key.

Oskar Böhme's Trumpet Sextet, Op. 30 is written in E-flat minor.

Alexseevich Shatrov's waltz, On the Hills of Manchuria, about the loss of Russia in the Russo-Japanese war, is written in E-flat minor. As mentioned, E-flat minor is common in Russian pieces. On the Hills of Manchuria is perhaps the most notable example.

The extended orchestral introduction to part 2 of Gustav Mahler's Eighth Symphony is in E-flat minor, as is the dark orchestral introduction to Beethoven's only oratorio, Christ on the Mount of Olives.

Guitarist Yngwie Malmsteen has composed a number of pieces in E-flat minor, including the Concerto Suite for Electric Guitar and Orchestra.


  • A. Morris, "Symphonies, Numbers And Keys" in Bob's Poetry Magazine, III.3, 2006.

External links[edit]