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Major Scale




Musical scale consists of seven subsequent notes. These notes are called scale degrees. Very many musical scales exist in the world – this variety results from the global cultural diversity.

In the Western world, typically a scale has seven degrees, i.e. it consists of seven distinct notes. Major scale has been defined as musical pattern which means it is considered absolutely basic.

Therefore, it is essential to be familiar with its construction.

Major scale has two particular points. These can be found between the 3rd and the 4th, and the 7th and the 8th (duplicated 1st) degree. Only between notes within these two pairs of sounds SEMITONES, i.e. minor seconds are found. All other steps are WHOLE STEPS, i.e. major seconds. In other words, a scale is a specific combination of minor and major seconds. Apparently it was characteristic enough to be given an exclusive name. The major scale tone pattern is:

M2   M2   m2  ι  M2 ι  M2   M2   m2


As you can see, if we divide it in two parts, we receive two pieces of identical structure. These two identical halves are called tetrachords. Tetrachords found in a major scale bear the name Dorian :) The steps of the first tetrachord are violet, while the second tetrachord is marked with blue. The two tetrachords are divided by a green major second. The most famous scale - C major - is written as follows:

Cmajor 2

On a piano keyboard, the C major scale includes eight subsequent white keys. However, it is not the keyboard that determines the scale, but it is the scale that has influenced the keyboard construction! ;)

After all these terrible terms, let us translate what we have just said into a more human language. Major scale is a sequence of major and minor seconds whose pattern has not hanged since ages :) Once you have memorized this sequence, you are familiar with the major scale pattern. If, however, you are not able to memorize it, you can always play the sequence on a keyboard and write down every interval between one and another C. Following this pattern you can build a major scale from just any sound. Let us do it starting from A flat and D:

A flat and D

As you certainly have noticed, the puzzle pieces are put in the same order, you only start from different points :) It means, it is one interval sequence starting from different sounds.

To sum up: natural major scale consists of two identical tetrachords, both structured: M2-M2-m2. Why is it called natural? It is because fortunately or unfortunately major scale has multiple variants, but since it is another large subject, we will deal with it later on.





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