Lesson 34: Review of Major Scale and Major Key Signature

Category: Lessons, Music Theory

Now for one quick roundup of all of the information we have learned about major scales and major key signatures. This is intended to be a brief review, and more information on each specific area can be found in previous lessons. I will try to include links.

The major scale is a diatonic scale, meaning it contains 7 distinct notes. A scale is a sequence of ascending or descending notes. A major sclae has 2 tetrachords that follow the same pattern (TONE-TONE-SEMITONE). In a major scale, the tetrachords are separated by a half.  A major scale follows the pattern:  TONE-TONE-SEMITONE-TONE-TONE-TONE-SEMITONE.

Remember that a tone is 2 steps on the piano, and a semitone is 1 step – or the smallest distance between any two notes on the piano. You can review tones and semitones here.

Let’s build a major scale starting on A flat. I like to picture a piano keyboard when I am building my scales, that way I can see where the tones and semitones are. If you a beginner, drawing out a picture of a piano keyboard isn’t a bad way to start. In fact, I would even go so far as to suggest that it is a good way to start!

Here is the A flat major scale. As you can see, there are quite a few notes that land on the black keys. The arrows between the notes indicate the tones and semitones. The red arrows are whole tones, and the blue arrows are semitones.

After this exercise, we now know the notes of the A flat scale. We just have to put them on the staff. The first way to do this is by using accidentals. That is, putting your sharps and flats right in front of the note.

Next, to create a key signature, you need to group all of the accidentals at the beginning of the scale, after the clef. In the A flat scale there are 4 flats: A flat, B flat, D flat, and E flat.  Remember that the flats in a key signature have to go in a specific order. For flats the order is B-E-A-D-G-C-F. The order of the sharps in the key signature is F-C-G-D-A-E-B. There are tricks for remembering this order.

To create a key signature for every major key, you could go through this exercise of creating it from the major scale. You could also  memorize key signatures, or you could memorize the circle of fifths. Here is a list of the major keys, and the number of sharps or flats that are in the key signature.

Posted on October 21st, 2012 by sharlene

1 Comment

  1. How to Write Minor Scales - Natural Minor | Epianostudio Says:

    […] how to write the natural minor scale using the TONE-SEMITONE method. This will be similar to how we learned to write major scales, with one small difference: the pattern we will follow is slightly […]

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