In this music theory for beginners lesson, we’ll take a look at the major scale and the pattern that it follows.
What Is A Musical Scale?
A scale is a series of pitches or notes going up (ascending) and going down (descending). These pitches or notes are also identified in alphabetical order, they are written and played in a sequence.
The notes of a scale are numbered with Roman numerals:
These are also called scale degrees. Each degree has a specific name related to the musical scale.
Names of scale degrees are: Tonic = I, Supertonic = II. Mediant = III, Subdominant = IV, Dominant = V, Submediant = VI, Leading Tone = VII and back to Tonic = VIII or I.
Major Scale Pattern
All of the major scales have a specific pattern of whole tones and semitones.
This is the order of whole tones and semitones in which they occur for the major scale:
If you look at the image above there is a semitone between degrees (notes) III and IV, and a semitone between degrees (notes) VII and VIII. And there are whole tones between each of the other degrees of the scale.
Any major scale can start on any note in the musical alphabet (including the flat and sharp notes), but in order to be a major scale it must follow the pattern of whole tones and semitones above.
More to come...