Music scale is an organized sequence of notes. For example: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C… repeating this cycle. This scale started with the C note and goes following a defined sequence of intervals until the return to the C note again. This sequence of distance was, tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone… repeating the cycle. This scale is called Major Scale. We could use this same sequence (major scale) starting with another note besides C, for example, G. The scale would be G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G… You can see how the same logic was followed (tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone). In the first case, we form a C major scale. In the second one, a G major scale. Following the same logic we can form the major scale with all the 12 notes that we know. Do this as an exercise and then check it below. We will show the major scale of the basic 7 notes:
To the other scales, we have other sequences to be followed (other intervals).
“Minor scale”, as is called, for example, is formed by de following sequence: tone, semitone, tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone… repeating the cycle.
Let’s create then the C minor scale. You are already able to create this scale. It is just to follow this given sequence starting for the C note. Just like this:
C, D, D#, F, G, G#, A#, C… repeating the cycle.
The notes D#, G# and A# are equivalent, respectively to Eb, Ab e Bb. We could rewrite then the previews sequence like this:
C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C.
We can see that the scale is completely the same; the only difference is that before it was written with the sharp accidents (#) and now it was written with the flat accidents (b).
Generally C minor scale is written in the second way and not in the first one. Why? Simply because like that all the 7 notes appear (with or without their accidents). In the first case, B note does not appear. Does this change anything? Does this make any difference? NO. But in the books you will probably find the second description, because of the mentioned reason. Actually, the choice for the second option has a deeper meaning, because makes the observation of harmonic functions easier, but don’t worry about this now.
Check then the shapes of major scale and minor scale:
C major scale
C minor scale
Observation: In the guitar fretboard, to obtain the scale of another note (besides the “C” note that we showed) it is just to move this same drawing to the note that you desire. Try testing this doing this same shape in C major scale starting in D note. After that, check the notes created comparing them with the table that we showed before. This is great. Isn’t it? This means that we only have to memorize one drawing to each scale! In piano we don’t have this privilege. Though, the piano presents facilitators advantages. Each instrument has its own pros and cons!
Ok, returning to the subject, maybe you are asking yourself why a scale is called “major” or “minor”.
This is just a definition. The difference in theses scales is in the third degree, in sixth degree and in seventh degree. In a “major” scale, theses degrees are major intervals. In the “minor” scale, theses degrees are minor intervals. This is why we call the first scale “major scale” and the second one “minor scale”. As exists other types or scales major and minor, theses basic scales that we just saw receive the name as “natural scales”, because they are the most basic and primitive in music study. In the next articles you will understand better this question about “degrees”. Don’t worry if you thought they are strange.
The “natural major” and “natural minor” scales are also called diatonic major scale and diatonic minor scale. The name “diatonic” means “to move in the tonic”. Every time we use the term “diatonic” or “diatonic note”, we are saying that this note is part of a natural major or minor scale.
Other music scales
There are many other scales, as we will see in other topics. But the main idea is always the same. We have a defined sequence of tones and semitones, and from this we can create a scale starting with the note we want. Simply like that.
Ok, everything is nice, everything is beautiful, but where do we use a music scale?! My friend, it is there where the secret lives! And this nobody tells you! You will find many texts in books or over the internet showing lots and lots of scales, but nobody will explain where to use each one of them.
Fortunately you are in the right place! We planned all the topics of this website in a way that you could have the entire base needed to “take off” in this subject. We will talk about each scale specially showing how to use them and everything. Here in Simplifying Theory you will learn all that you need without paying any cent for that. Moreover, even paying wherever it is, hardly you will find a quality material about this subject. Believe me, it is not for nothing that a few number of musicians really know music theory. Our website is trying to tear down this wall. Enjoy it and help us to improve even more doing your evaluation about the contents and sharing with your friends. To our site grow and be more useful, we need your help!
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