The Major Scale
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"Understanding the Major scale and Intervals"

"Starting the diatonic harmony chart"

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These are some of the subjects I will be getting into. I've started the scales and modes for you!

 Where do the scales come from?

Scales come from the twelve notes in our music system. They are a collection of sounds put in a specific order to create a unique sound quality

The major scale is where I am going to start you at because this is where all scales come from. The major scale consist of what many consider happy, pleasent, or more appropriately "consident"

If you start on the "A" at the fifth fret sixth string and play one note at a time A - A# - B - C - C# - you will notice that the "B" is the next happy, consident sounding note. Continue up in pitch toward the upper frets one note at a time picking the next happy sounding note out and you should be able to hear that the " C# " stands out. In the example below I have put one octave from "A" to its octave to show you the major scale. This is the result of picking out the more happy cosident sounding notes. from the twelve in our system. There are 8 notes that make up the major scale. ( I have made them the color blue)

"A" major scale

The "W" represents "whole step"(two frets) the "H" represents half step(one fret)

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

Some people get confused about where to place the "W" when figuring out a scale on paper, because you are going to want to figure out one of the other scales. Notice that I have placed the first "W"(depicting whole step) under the second note of the scale after I have moved a whole step in pitch.

Some people put the "W" under the root note and it doesn't work out properly. So be mindful of that so you can figure out all the major scales.

From "A" to " B " is the first whole step. From " B " to " C# " is the next whole step then from " C# " to " D " is a half step From "D" to "E" is another whole step From "E" to " F# " is a whole step and from " F# " to " G# " is the last whole and From " G# " to "A's"octave is a half step. The whole step/half step formula is used to find the notes of the major scale(s). If you start on any note and use this formula you can find out what notes are in any key!

There are eight notes from the root to its octave in the major scale. There are seven "modes"

Don't let that confuse you, We will use the modes later to break down the scales and create different sounds, chords, and chord progressions.

When you play from the root note of the major scale to its octave you have just played a mode the "Ionian"

This is the "modal name of the major scale".

Because of the order of the notes(tones) that you just played and the sound that they make in that order we have and can describe them better as modes.

I will go deeper in to that but first we want to understand other things about the major scale.

Do you know what chords are in the key and why? I am going to explain this to you in depth and later when I get a large enough response in my emails I will do a video ("lesson video 3" free of course.)

Chords in the key of.....

You know that when you want to figure out what notes are in the key you use the W-W-H-W-W-W-H formula to figure them out. Right now you can work your way up any string from the root note using the major scale formula to get the notes of any scale. I would prefer you use the 6th string to evaluate these next examples its a lot easier this way. If you don't know your 5th and 6th strings go back and study them because it is real important if you want to understand your fret board better you have to know those two strings the best for now.

It is real important before you start learning this stuff that you understand all of the basics back on other pages and my lesson videos or this won't make any sense.

I will use the key of " C " major it is the easiest scale for most to understand as there are no sharps( # ) or flats( b ) in it.

Starting with the root note " C " find the notes in the scale using the major scale formula

The resulting notes should be:


With these notes we are going to build the chords and chord formulas by "Harmonizing notes in thirds to create the chords in the key" This is known as "Diatonic Harmony" I will get you started on this page then provide a link to a page with the whole chart (Diatonic harmony chart) The idea is for you to understand all of this so take your time and read it. Because this stuff is real important to the serious musician. All of this information will help aid you in understanding what you are doing and how to convey what you are doing to other musicians so that you can spend less time figuring things out and more time playing it really does speed things up when other musicians understand what you are telling them to play what chord, in what key, and what notes, in what octave.

Here is the first example of harminizing notes in "Thirds":

Starting with the root "C" count three notes up in the scale " C "(1), " D "(2), " E "(3)

"E" is the third note in the key of C major:

Now we have a:

"C" and an "E" the (1st) and a (3rd) note in the key any key.

Now staring from the third note of the same key of( "C Major"):

"E" count three more notes out "E"(1) "F"(2) "G"(3)

Now we have three notes:

C-E-G now starting from "G" in the same scale count three more notes out.

"G"(1), "A"(2), "B"(3)

Now we have four notes

C-E-G-B these are the notes of the "C major 7" chord you have built your first chord in the key of "C major" by harmonizing notes in thirds to create a chord in the key of...(C major scale in this case)

The definition of a chord is: "Three or more notes played together."

This chord that you just made is the " i "( roman numeral one) chord, The first chord in the scale, this is known as a:

"Scale step"

You can start on any note using the major scale formula to get the notes of the key you want then harmonize them in thirds to create the chords in the key, any key!

What's next?

The second chord (the "ii" roman numeral two) chord of the key is next!

Start on the second note of the scale

I will continue to harmonize notes in the key of "C major" you can do this in any key once you understand it.

Starting on the note "D" count three notes up in the scale.

"D"(1), "E"(2), "F"(3)

Now we have two notes:


Do that again starting on the note "F" this time to the "A"

Now there is three notes:


Do that again starting on the note "A" this time to the "C"

Now there is four notes:


You have just harmonized notes in the key of "C major" Starting on the second note of the scale to create the second chord in the key.

This chord is known as the "ii" chord "The Two Chord" in scale steps

More in depth the notes that you just harmonized (in any key) starting from the second note of that key will automatically make the "ii" chord a "minor chord" once you understand intervals this will make a lot of sense. I will be getting into that next. After we finish the "Diatonic Harmony Chart". Now we have:

The first chord ( i ) it is a major chord and the chord formula for this chord is 1-3-5-7

The formula is the interval names of the notes:

The second chord(ii) it is a minor chord and the chord formula is 1-b3-5-b7

(the " b " represents the flat next to it's interval) Don't panic I know this is confusing dont let these formulas confuse you I am breaking it down so that you can understand it better. Remember there are "three primary chords" in music:

"Major, minor, and dominant 7" all chords come frome these three and now you are finding out where they come from!

1. What makes them major?

2. What makes them minor?

3. What makes them dominant?

The specific notes you use define these chords and the interval names just describe it in a formula

so when you see the chord formula : 1-3-5-7

Thats the first note, the third note, the fifth note and the seventh note of the scale!

Remember an "interval" is the distance between two notes:

When I move up from C(root) to the next note on a fret board C#(a half step up) I move the distance of a "minor 2"

Thats the name of the distance I moved away from the root note! This describes the sound that the notes make when played together.

When I play a "C (root)" and a "C#" together I have played a minor second interval.

Because the "C#" is a half step away from the "C(root)" it is described as a minor second interval

When I play the "C(root)" and the "D"(a whole step away)together

I have played a "Major second interval" because the "D" is a whole step away from the root note it is called a Major second interval.

Play these notes together and see how they sound to you. Play a "C" and "C#" together then the "C" and "D" together and describe what kind of sound you hear.

Is it happy(consonance) Sad(disonant) creepy, the point is to understand what two notes played together make what kind of sound this will help you use intervals a lot better when creating music and discovering what sounds you want to use. And for constructing chords.

When you visit again and look around you will be able to tell that I have added a page by the links I placed on the menu list. Here is a glimps at what an interval is.

" The Major scale & Intervals!”

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Here is an example of the twelve notes in our music system plus one the "octave"! Starting with the “D” as a root(because I’m using the key of “D major” to demonstrate) and ending on "D" it's octave:



D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D
P1 m2 M2 m3 M3 P4 #4/b5 P5 m6 M6 m7 M7 P8

Try to remember that:

1. The "P" represents "Perfect"

2.The small "m" represents "minor"

3. The large "M" represents "major"

4. The (#4/b5) represents "sharp four/flat five"

Once you understand how to build the major scale, where it comes from and how to construct chords you can apply this to all instruments. Check this illustration below of a piano(keyboard).

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