Music Theory #3 – Major Scales

Using what we’ve learned in the previous 2 lessons about the MUSICAL ALPHABET, and HALF-STEPS and WHOLE-STEPS, we can now build MAJOR SCALES.

Major scales are 7 notes that can be shuffled around to build  harmonies (a guitar chord) and melodies (your favorite singing part).  Knowing all the major scales (even if they are just written down) allows you to compare a major scale to a chord or string of notes. When you do this the major scale acts like a tape measure for musical distance. This will be highly useful once you get it.

The Major Scale is built of a starting note called the ROOT. The A major scale’s root is A and the C# major scale’s root is C#. To build each of the major scales we will travel upwards from the root until we get to the next of the same note.

The pattern is: W W 1/2 W W W 1/2. The W = Whole Step and 1/2 = Half Step.

The A major scale starts on A then travels a W up to get to B. From B it travels up a W to get to C#/Db. At this point we need to pick which name we are going to use. The rule is make sure to have one of each alphabet letter in order for major scales. We have an A, a B, and the next alphabet letter is C, so we choose C# instead of Db.

Traveling up from C# go up 1/2 to D, W to E, W to F#, W to G#, and 1/2 to A (again).

Thus the A major scale is A B C# D E F# G# (A).

If we build the F major scale (all major scales follow the same pattern of W W 1/2 W W W 1/2) we end up with F G A Bb C D E (F).

The reason the 4th note is Bb not A# is because we already had an A note for the 3rd note and the rule is to choose the next alphabet letter. This rule helps for sheet music reading and talking with other musicians (though you may not fully understand why).

Below I’ve included a sheet for you to fill in each of the major scales following the pattern. Attempt to fill them in based on following the directions and next lesson I will include the same page but with all the answers. I filled in the 5 most confusing answers  Fill in the rest and double check your work in the next lesson.

Fill in the major scales on this grid by using half and whole steps from music theory lesson 1.