The Major Scale


For the experienced musician, the major scale is one of the most basic concepts.  For the new musician, the major scale is the start of a new language and only the beginning of their musical journey. I often ask my students to explain the major scale in simple terms as though they were speaking to a person without any musical background.  The reaction is that while they may have learned how to play a major scale, they do not know how to explain it.  One simple answer is that the Major Scale is made up of the notes Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Ti, and Do. 


Since the major scale forms the basic foundation upon which all musical expression is based, its importance cannot be understated.  While it is true that you can play music without understanding how to play scales, the musician who takes the time to learn and practice scales will become proficient at the art of improvisation.


As stated above, all music is formed from the Major Scale.  It is the most basic musical principle.  Here are reasons why you should concentrate on learning not only the major scale but other scales as well: 


  • A melody line is played by utilizing notes in the scale
  • A chord is made up of scale notes (see chord structure)
  • A song is made up of chords that are derived from the scale 


A major scale consists of a pattern of notes played together.  The pattern of eight notes (of which seven notes are different notes) is:


I Root  Do
II  Whole Re
 III Whole Mi
 IV Half Fa
 V Whole Sol
 VI Whole La
 VII Whole Ti
Viii  Half Do



The interval of two frets is referred to either a Tone, a Whole, or a Step.  The Interval of one fret is referred to either a Semi-tone, a Half, or a Half Step.   You can memorize the Major Scale by memorizing its pattern:





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