The Major Scale
Okay so let's talk music theory. We know the musical alphabet/chromatic scale, but we need to learn what a scale is. Specifically the Major Scale.
Scales are a string of notes that will have a certain sound. There are a lot of scales in music but the most useful one and most popular is the major scale. You will have heard this a million times, When you play from C and use all the white notes you hear the iconic "Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do" melody.
Most of the music you have or ever will listen to is connected to this scale some way. We will start to look at how we can make it. We are going to use a piano because it’s a lot easier to visualise when we’re starting out
In the scale of C major we use the notes C D E F G A B C. There are all the white notes as you can see. All the major scales are named after the first note they start on.
This is actually a pattern of semitones (half tones) and tones (Whole tones).
So we’re going to work out the major scale pattern. Because we know the white notes are the major scale, we can work it out.
We will start on C, as this is the C major scale.
So let’s work out the gap between the white notes.
C to D = Whole
D to E = Whole
E to F = Half
F to G = Whole
G to A = Whole
A to B = Whole
B to C = Half
So the pattern for a Major scale goes:
Whole Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half
The really interesting thing is we can take that pattern and start it on any note on the piano and it will always give us the sound of the major scale.
C Major Scale
G Major Scale
Ab Major Scale
If we look back at the notes in a C major scale, you notice that they never repeat a letter. Every major scale can only use a letter once.
C D E F G A B C
For instance, if we look at an F scale:
F G A A# C D E F
W W H W W W H
While it will sound the same, that would be wrong because there are 2 As in there. So we would have to change A# to Bb
F G A A# C D E F
F G A Bb C D E F
Even though A# and Bb sound exactly the same, we would choose Bb because it follows our new rule: Never repeat a letter in a Major Scale. That goes for most scales, but there are exceptions.
So try it yourself, start with the notes below and see if you can work out the major scale.
Do this for about 3 major scales.
Highlight here for answer: A B C# D E F# G# A
Highlight here for answer: F G A Bb C D E F
Highlight here for answer: Bb C D Eb F G A Bb
Another side note: because of this, we can theoretically have a B# and E#, and Cb and Fb. In our chromatic scale they don’t exist, but when we look at theory and applying theory, they do exist. We will talk more about this later when we understand how scales are made.