Major and Minor Scales
1. Diatonic Scales - consist of tones and semi-tones. It is a seven note 'octave-repeating' scale consisting of 5 whole-steps (tones) and 2 half-steps (semitones) e.g., The 'C Major' diatonic scale would read as follows:
C Diatonic Scale - Ascending & Descending
2. Chromatic Scales - consist of semi-tones only. It consists of 12 notes, each a semitone apart. For example, the C chromatic scale would read as follows:
C - B - Bb - A - Ab - G - Gb - F - E - Eb - D - Db - C descending
C Chromatic Scale - Ascending & Descending
Diatonic Scales are divided into 2 kinds:
- Major Scales
- Minor Scales
Major ScalesA Major Scale is a series of 8 notes in alphabetical order, containing 5 tones and 2 semi-tones. The 8th note is the same as the first note, but is an octave higher.
- The 5 tones occur between the 1st-2nd, 2nd-3rd, 4th-5th, 5th-6th, 6th-7th notes of the scale.
- The 2 semi-tones occur between the 3rd-4th and 7th-8th notes of the scale
- ie. 1 ( tone) 2 ( tone) 3 (semi- tone) 4 ( tone) 5 ( tone) 6 ( tone) 7 (semi- tone) 8
Pattern of Whole and Half steps in the C major scale... W - W - H - W - W - W - H
The Step Method can be used to determine all Major Scales... here's a few examples.
|Notes of the Scale||1st||2nd||3rd||4th||5th||6th||7th||8th|
|Whole / Half Steps||W||W||H||W||W||W||H|
|C Major Scale||C||D||E||F||G||A||B||C|
|G Major Scale||G||A||B||C||D||E||F#||G|
|D Major Scale||D||E||F#||G||A||B||C#||D|
|A Major Scale||A||B||C#||D||E||F#||G#||A|
Whole - Whole - Half - Whole - Whole - Whole - Half OR W - W - H - W - W - W - H
1 Whole Step = 2 semitones
1 Half Step = 1 semitone
Finding a keynote from accidentals
The TONIC is the keynote or 1st note of every music scale.
Sharps and Flats are used in the formation of scales to fix the correct position of the tones and semi-tones. This is how Key Signatures are formed.
A Key Signature consists of Sharps and Flats which are placed at the beginning of every Stave of Music to fix the correct pitch of the key.
To find the keynote from given # accidentals in the key signature:
In a Major Key, look for the last # to occur in the order of appearance of the sharps in the key signature, and ascend 1 semi-tone as that last sharp is the 7th degree or leading note of that key... 7th degree to the tonic = 1 semitone
In this example we see 1 sharp - F on the clef at the beginning of a piece of music (key signature). If you ascend 1 semi-tone from F#, you get G... presto! You are in the key of G Major.
To find the keynote from given ♭ accidentals in the key signature:
In a Major Key, look for the last ♭ to occur in the order of appearance of the flats in the key signature, and ascend 7 semitones, as that last flat is the 4th degree or Sub-dominant of the key... 4th degree to the tonic = 7 semitones.
In this example we see 4 flats - B♭, E♭, A♭, and D♭ on the clef at the beginning of a piece of music (key signature). If you ascend 7 semitones from D♭ (the last flat), you get A♭... You are in the key of A♭ Major.
If you see no sharps or flats in the key signature, you are in the key of C Major or A Minor.
Rules for Music Scales
- Music Scales are related by their key signatures: Major to Minor and Minor to Major.
- Every Major Scale has a relative Natural Minor Scale and every Minor Scale has a relative Major Scale
- The Major scale and its relative Minor Scale share the same Key Signature. This means they share the same notes, but because they start at different places, they have a different step pattern and therefore a different sound.
- To find a Relative Minor from a given Major, descend (count down) 3 semi-tones from the major, e.g., if you are in the key of A Major, count down 3 semitones from A - G# - G - F# ... you are in the key of F#minor.
- To find a Relative Major from a given Minor, ascend (count up) 3 semi-tones from the minor, e.g., if you are in the key of Am, count up 3 semitones from A - A# - B - C ... you are in the key of C Major.
Technical Names of Scale Degrees
Each note in a given music scale is given a technical name: A scale degree is the name given to each note of the scale in relation to the tonic or root note which is the first degree of a diatonic scale. The illustration below shows the names of the scale degrees in C Major.
Each scale degree can be described in several ways:
- First, second, major or minor third, fourth, fifth, major or minor sixth, major or minor seventh
- Roman Numerals, i.e., I - II - III - IV - V - VI - VII - VIII
- Arabic Numerals, i.e., 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
- Names and their function, i.e., Tonic, Supertonic, Mediant, Subdominant, Dominant, Submediant, Leading Tone, Tonic (Octave / Upper Tonic).
|Degree||Name||Meaning||Notes in C|
|1st||Tonic||Tonal center / note of final resolution||C|
|2nd||Supertonic||One whole step above the tonic||D|
|3rd (Maj/Min)||Mediant||Half-way between the tonic and dominant||E/E♭|
|4th||Subdominant||Lower dominant / same interval below tonic dominant is above tonic||F|
|5th||Dominant||2nd most important note to the tonic||G|
|6th (Maj/Min)||Submediant||Lower mediant / mid-way between the tonic and subdominant||A/A♭|
|7th (Maj/Min)||Leading Tone / Subtonic||Melodically strong affinity for the tonic / leads to the tonic / Subtonic-one whole step below the tonic||B/B♭|
|8th||Octave/Upper Tonic||Octave above the tonic / tonal center / note of final resolution||C|
Subtonic is used when the interval between it and the tonic in the upper octave is a whole step, e.g., 7 or dom7 (B♭)
Leading Tone is used when the interval is a half step, e.g., maj7 (B)
- Supertonic and Subtonic are, one step above and one step below the tonic
- Mediant and Submediant are each a third above and below the tonic
- Dominant and Subdominant are a fifth above and below the tonic