The Mystery of the Major Scale

The Concept of the Major Scale

The Major Scale

    Welcome to PlayThePianos again. This time we are going to be talking about the major scale. We will take a deep study on what the major scale means, how to play a major scale or any key, and as a bonus, I will help you to write out the major scales of the twelve keys with pictures for you to better understand. And yes, guys, as a reminder, I want to tell you that if you have not subscribed to this blog, please do so now so that you will not miss any new post we make in this post. And like I have always said, subscription is free! You will get notified of new posts by your email address. So, guys, let us not waste time again….

   First of all, before considering the Major scale, we have to understand the meaning of the word ‘scale’ itself, pertaining to music. Scale means a ladder, arrangement or sequence of notes arranged based on intervals to the root note. It means that we have a group of notes that can be arranged in ascending or descending order. It is through Keys that we get scales, then scales create chords, and on and on. Without scales, music will not exist – it will be noise. So a scales is that factor that makes up music, and if at all you want to learn music, they are very essential.

   We have many types of scales. They are too many to name, but learning all the scales is not a compulsion. You only have to learn the most important ones, and then you can add others as a supplement. The most important scales are the chromatic scale, the major scale, and the minor scales. The minor scale can be divided into the natural minor scale, the harmonic minor scale, and the melodic minor scale. Other types of scales are the Pentatonic scale, the Jazz scale, Blues scale, Whole Tone scale, Diminished Scale, Look, you have to trust me, even though we have many many scales, they are not difficult to learn and use, so do not fret!

   In this post, we will study only the major scale. Make sure you check my other posts on the other types of scales we have. They are a must study!

   Also, the Chromatic scale is the basic or fundamental scale in which all other scales are derived from. Remember that sub topic in physics: Fundamental and Derived quantities and units? That’s how I would like you to view the Chromatic scale. In music generally, the major scale is the fundamental quantity. It serves as a basis. Do you understand this concept? Let me use another analogy to explain this for a richer understanding. Let me explain with a simpler version. Adam and Eve were the fundamental humans through which all other humans later sprung out. Whether we are black, white, brown or any other colour, our fundamental parents are Adam and Even, right? That’s what the Chromatic scale means. Through the chromatic scale, we can get all other scales. I mean ALL.

The Chromatic Scale

   The Chromatic scale comprises of all the notes and keys in music. Practically there are 12 keys, but theoretically there are 15 keys in music – whatever! The Chromatic scale includes whatever number of keys and scales we have, joined together. It is the grand parent of scales. It directly gave rise to the major and minor scales. The intervals between each notes of the chromatic scale are in semitones. It is super easy to form a chromatic scale on any key. Just kept on pressing each note till you get to the next octave. LOL. You might want to follow a favourable fingering pattern.

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   The Chromatic scale has a younger brother. His name is major scale. The major scale comprises of seven notes, with each notes placed in the scale according to intervals to the root note. Remember that in Chromatic scale, the number of notes in any chromatic scale must be 12, but that’s not the case in a major scale. The major scale has 7 distinct notes derived from the chromatic scale, and a repitition of the first note in the next octave. 7 + 5 = 12. Meaning that, we leave out 12 notes from the chromatic scale. But hey, we are not going to leave out any note, there is a specific rule that guides which note to pick and which to leave. Understanding this principle will make you to be able to form a major scale on your piano.

   The major scale is called a major scale because the interval between the First note(root) and the Third note is a Major third.

     I am very sure that you have heard the notes of the major scale in solfa notation. The seven notes are what we know as do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti (in solfege or solfa notation). The seven notes help musicians to compose songs. If you play all the white keys, starting from key C and ending on the key C in the next octave above, you have successfully played a major scale in key C. I know you know where key C is and how to find other keys. If you don’t, click.

   When you played this, what did you notice? There are seven distinct notes, right? Here is what you just played: C D E F G A B C. There are actually seven different notes, because the C above is the same as the C below – just a repetition of C in different

octaves. Here is what I mean:

C(1) D(2) E(3) F(4) G(5) A(6) B(7) C(1 or 8)

Or do re mi fa so la ti do

It is an option. You can call the higher C ‘1’ or ‘8’.

   But wait. You only just played the major scale on the key of C. What of all other keys? That’s not how to play it on all other keys. How then do you play the major scale on keys like F, G, Eb,(or D#), F#(or Gb) and all others. Well you are in luck! I am about to teach you how to form major scales on other keys.

HOW TO FORM THE MAJOR SCALE ON ALL OTHER KEYS

  It is super easy. All you need to know is the principle behind it. Once you get the formula or idea, you can do this by yourself in no time. So what is the formula for forming major scales?

    The formula for forming the major scale on any key is TTSTTTS.

 T means Tone, while S means Semitone.

You should try to memorize that for a few seconds.

Tone-Tone-Semitone-Tone-Tone-Tone-Semitone

Two Tones before a Semitone, and then Three tones before the final tone. That us it!

  THE IDEA OF THIS MAJOR SCALE FORMULA

  What does a semitone mean?

NOTE: When you talk about tone and semitone, it is in relation to distance in music, and we consider only two notes!

  A semitone means the smallest distance or interval between two notes. It means an interval in which the two notes are closest. For example, the interval between E and F is a semitone, and the interval between F and F# is a semitone because they are very close to each other and it is impossible to stack another note in-between them. That is why such an interval or a distance is called semitone.

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A Semitone

   Another way to view the word semitone is ‘half tone.’ It means the half of a tone is semitone because semitone means half, right?

WHAT IS A TONE?

    A tone, in this context, means the distance between two notes in which there is a note in the middle of those two notes. Tone means a distance that involves the combination of two semitones. Very simple. Now let us take it to the piano keyboard.

A Tone

The distance between E and Gb is a tone.
The distance between G and A is a tone
The distance between Gb and Bb is a tone.

And many more. Try to identify four other tones on your keyboard.

   The reason why the distance is called a tone is because there is a note in-between the two mentioned notes in each case. For example, Between G and A is key Ab.

   Another reason is because a tone is a total of two semitones. Check this out. Between G and Ab is a semitone, while between Ab and A is another semitone.

NOTE: the small letter (b) written after the keys represents flat. Just like # represents sharp in music.

  The idea behind this principle is that to form our seven notes of the major scale(do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do), we will fix each interval in-between all the notes. Remember that the major scale has seven degrees. So according to this TTSTTTS formula, between the first and second degree or note of the major scale is a tone. Between the second and third is a tone; between the third and fourth is a semitone; between the fourth and fifth is a tone; between the fifth and sixth is a tone, between the sixth and seventh is a tone, between the seventh and eighth(or first) is a semitone.

Here is what I mean.

Do (T) Re (T) Mi (S) Fa (T) So (T) La (T) Ti (S) Do.

 That is how to form a major scale on any key.

Now let us go even deeper…

   Let us form our major scale on Key C. Please pay rapt attention.

Of course our first note will be C.

   Therefore we will call Key C our ‘do’ or 1 or first degree.

To find our second note, the interval between the first (do) and the second(re) note of the major scale is a Tone. So we will skip a note,and then the next note directly after the skipped note is our second degree. That is D.

To find our third note(mi) in the major scale of key C, from above the distance between the second and third is a Tone. So, skip a note and then the next is our third note. That is E.

To find our fourth note(fa) in the major scale of C, the distance between the third and fourth note, according to the formula, is a SEMITONE. It means we will not skip any note this time. So, directly our fourth note is F.

If you keep following this pattern, you will see that the major scale of key C has these notes: C D E F G A B C, which are 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8(1) or also do re mi fa so la ti do.

C Major scale

   If we try this formula for key E, this will be our major scale in key E

E F# G# A B C# D# E. That’s it.

E major Scale

 Can you try it out on other keys?? Let us try it out.

THE MAJOR SCALE OF ALL KEYS AND THEIR CORRECT FINGERINGS

   Below I will give you the correct notes of the major scale of all other scales and the right fingers to use when practising them. They are to be practised slowly and then increase the speed gradually until you become lightning fast. They will help you to develop strong, controllable, and fast fingers. The fingering pattern guides which fingers goes to which note when practising the scale on the piano. Make sure you are disciplined and don’t rush things.

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For the scales,

LH means Left Hand, RH means Right Hand

For both palms, our fingers will be represented with numbers. So,

Thumb = 1, Index =2, Middle = 3, Ring = 4, and Pinky(Little finger) = 5

C Major

The Major Scale on Key C

Notes: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

Fingerings (LH): 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1

Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

C# / Db Major

The Major Scale on Key C# or D flat

Notes: Db, Eb, F, Gb, Ab, Bb, C, Db

Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3

Fingerings (RH): 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2

D Major

The Major Scale on Key D

Notes: D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D

Fingerings (LH): 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1

Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

D# / Eb Major

The Major Scale on Key D# or E flat

Notes: Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C, D, Eb

Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3

Fingerings (RH): 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3

E Major

The Major Scale on Key E

Notes: E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#, E

Fingerings (LH): 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1

Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

F Major

The Major Scale on Key F

Notes: F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F

Fingerings (LH): 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1

Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 4

F# /Gb Major

The Major Scale on Key F# or G flat

Notes: F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D#, F, F#

Fingerings (LH): 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1, 4

Fingerings (RH): 2, 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2

G Major

The Major Scale on Key G

Notes: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G

Fingerings (LH): 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1

Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

G# / Ab Major

The Major Scale on Key G# or A flat

Notes: Ab, Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, G, Ab

Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3

Fingerings (RH): 3, 4, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3

A Major

The Major Scale on Key A

Notes: A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A

Fingerings (LH): 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3, 2, 1

Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

A# / Bb Major scale

The Major Scale on Key A# or B flat

Notes: Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb

Fingerings (LH): 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1, 3

Fingerings (RH): 4, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4

B Major

The Major Scale on Key B

Notes: B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#, B

Fingerings (LH): 4, 3, 2, 1, 4, 3, 2, 1

Fingerings (RH): 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

All together, the 12 Major Scales

C: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

C#/Db: C#, D#, E#, F#, G#, A#, B#, C# / Db, Eb, F, Gb, Ab, Bb, C, Db

D: D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#, D

D#/Eb: D#, E#, F##, G#, A#, B#, C##, D# / Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C, D, Eb

E: E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#, E

F: F, G, A, Bb, C, D, E, F

F#/Gb: F#, G#, A#, B, C#, D#, E#, F# / Gb, Ab, Bb, Cb, Db, Eb, F, Gb

G: G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G

G#/Ab: G#, A#, B#, C#, D#, E#, F##, G# / Ab, Bb, C, Db, Eb, F, G, Ab

A: A, B, C#, D, E, F#, G#, A

A#/Bb: A#, B#, C##, D#, E#, F##, G##, A# / Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb

B: B, C#, D#, E, F#, G#, A#, B

That is all, friends. Make sure you practise what we have discussed, and send your feedback.

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