Global Bass Online                                                                      August/September  2001

Home Up Outline Aug. 2001 Search Classifieds Discuss this issue

Major Scale Construction

 

Up
GlobalBass.com
Global Bass Station
Global Bass Search
Global Bass Archives
Advertise on GB

The foundation of Western music theory is the major scale. Knowledge of the major scale in all keys enables construction of all chords and all other scales when applying the correct formulas. This knowledge is particularly important for bass players as they generally provide the harmonic foundation. If you have only the slightest doubt about scale tones, I suggest you store this lesson. It can be used as a reference for future lessons on chords, walking bass, soloing and much more.

By name, there are fifteen major scales: one (C major) without accidentals (sharps or flats), seven with sharps and seven with flats. Because there are three enharmonic equivalent scales (G# = Ab, C# = Db, F# = Gb) there are twelve major scales by sound (15 minus 3 equals 12) coinciding with the twelve notes of the chromatic scale.

The formula for the major scale is 2 Ĺ 3 Ĺ steps, i.e. W W H W W W H. (W = Wholestep, H = Halfstep)

Major scales with sharps (#)

Here are the steps, in order, for constructing the major scales with sharps (#).

Go up a perfect fifth

Retain the sharps (#) from the previous scale

Add a sharp (#) to the seventh note

We will start on the note C of the music alphabet (A B C D E F G) which gives us the C major scale that has no accidentals:

C D E F G A B C

Following the three steps listed above gives G as the starting note for the next major scale. We retain the sharps, which are none in this case, then add a sharp to the seventh note of the current scale under construction, giving us the note F#. Hence the G major scale has the notes

G A B C D E F# G

The next scale will be D major, having an F# (from the previous scale) and a C# (the new # on the seventh note).

The D major scale has the notes D E F# G A B C# D

The A major scale has the notes A B C# D E F# G# A

The E major scale has the notes E F# G# A B C# D# E

The B major scale has the notes B C# D# E F# G# A# B

The F# major scale has the notes F# G # A# B C# D# E# F#

The C# major scale has the notes C# D# E# F# G# A# B# C#

 

Major scales with flats (b)

Here are the steps, in order, for constructing the major scales with flats (b).

Go up a perfect fourth

Retain the flats (b) from the previous scale

Add a flat (b) to the fourth note

We will start on the note C of the music alphabet (A B C D E F G) which gives us the C major scale that has no accidentals:

C D E F G A B C

Following the three steps listed above gives F as the starting note for the next major scale. We retain the flats, which are none in this case, then add a flat to the fourth note of the current scale under construction, giving us the note Bb. Hence the F major scale has the notes

F G A Bb C D E F

The next scale will be Bb major, having a Bb (from the previous scale) and an Eb (the new b on the fourth note).

The Bb major scale has the notes Bb C D Eb F G A Bb

The Eb major scale has the notes Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb

The Ab major scale has the notes Ab Bb C Db Eb G Ab

The Db major scale has the notes Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C Db

The Gb major scale has the notes Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F Gb

The Cb major scale has the notes Cb Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb Cb

Thatís it, the major scale in fifteen keys. Hereís my guarantee: The better you know the major scale tones in all keys, the easier it will be to comprehend tonal-based music theory. Also, your search time for the right notes will be considerably reduced.

Memorize all fifteen major scales. Do whatever it takes. No matter what you or anyone else might think of this topic right now, you wonít regret it down the track. Bass of luck!

 

George Urbaszek plays and teaches in the Great Down Under, in Australia. This year he will be busy touring with Sweet Mischief, promoting the 9-piece bandís debut album. He also teaches worldwide via audio correspondence. For more information about George and his lessons, go to www.geocities.com/creativeavenues.

 

 

 

                                  

Home ] Up ]

Copyright © 2000-2009 Global Bass Online
Last modified: June 16, 2009