Major Scale Construction


"How are Major Scales Created?"
Knowing major scale construction is the first and most important piece of theory knowledge that you need to know. It is very important because music theory is based on relating everything to the major scale. In the future we will be covering all types of chords, scales, etc. but first, you MUST know the major scale inside and out.

A major scale is constructed of seven notes (within an octave) that relate to each other in a special way. The major scale is created by using a combination of whole-steps and half-steps. On guitar, a whole-step is 2 frets and a half-step is 1 fret. Below is a chart showing the relationships of the notes in a major scale using numbers for the notes and then how that works in a C Major scale. The notes are spaced (from low to high) W-W-H-W-W-W-H.



Notice that all 'natural' notes are a whole-step apart, except for the notes e to f, and b to c. In both of these cases, the notes are only a half-step apart. This is where many people get thrown off. You must memorize the relationships between all notes in the C Major scale. Another way to think about a major scale is to

To create other major scales, we take the formula W-W-H-W-W-W-H and apply it to a note other than c. For example, let's take D Major. First, write down all of the notes from d up to d again, like so:

d    e    f    g    a    b    c    d

Then, starting with d, we make sure that all of the notes fit our formula. So, first we check e to see if it is a whole-step away from d. It is, so we leave e alone. Next, we must check f. Normally, e and f are only a half-step apart, so we have to move the f a half-step higher. To do this, we sharp (#) the f to f#. Try finishing it yourself. Your answer should be:

d    e    f#    g    a    b    c#    d

G Major g a b c d e f g

Still under construction...


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