How to work out scales

A scale is any consecutive series of notes
that form a progression between
one note and it's octave.

I completed my post "What is a scale" by stating:

What differentiates one scale from another is not the notes that are used, rather it is the intervals (musical distance) between the notes.Therefore we can define a scale by these intervals - and what we end up with is a "STEP PATTERN".

We are going to look at the major scale step pattern in this post.

I've also written posts covering step patterns for the natural minor, minor pentatonic and major pentatonic scales.

To enable us to work out a scale we need to be familiar with the twelve notes which are used in western music. Here they are for us to refer to:

Chromatic-scale reference

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

The major scale step pattern is:

Tone   Tone   Semitone   Tone   Tone   Tone   Semitone

As an example we shall work out the A major scale. Hopefully it is obvious that we start with the A note. Referring to the scale reference, we can see that a tone up from A is B. A tone up from B is C# and a semitone up from C# is D. The next three steps are tone intervals, giving us the notes of E, F# and G#.
The last step is a semitone up from G# which brings us back to the root note of A.

Therefore the A major scale is:

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

You are now ready to work out the major scale for all of the 12 keys!

Click here to download a table for you to print and use for this purpose.

All you need to remember is the 12 notes and the step pattern of  tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone.

You then have a table showing all the major scales.

So what use is this to you?

Well, chords can be built up from notes within a scale - giving a series of chords which relate to a key - sounding good when played together.

Next --- "Which chords to use?"

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