How to Build a Major Scale

close up measure measurement number
Photo by mali maeder on

Major scales are the basis for all of western music. To build them is as simple as applying this formula:

T   T   ST   T   T   T   ST 

T = Tone

ST = Semi Tone

Simply pick your starting note and work through the formula. Here are all the notes in order (the chromatic scale):

A     A#     B     C     C#     D     D#     E     F     F#     G     G#     A

Therefore in the Key of C / Do this becomes

C           D           E           F           G           A           B           C

 T           T          ST           T           T           T          ST

In the key of D it becomes

E          F#          G#         A           B           C#         D#         E

       T           T          ST           T           T           T          ST

And in the key of F it becomes

Bb         C           D          Eb          F           G          A            Bb     

       T           T          ST           T           T           T          ST

Note in each scale there is one of every letter, you can not have a major scale with an F and an F# for example. This is why we can call ‘D#’, ‘Eb’ even though it’s the same pitch. As in the E major scale we need a D# and in the Bb scale we need an Eb.

Major scales are extremely useful to learn, and having a good grasp on these can be very useful. If you want to work these out a good indicator of whether you’ve gone wrong somewhere is to see whether you end with the same note with which you started. If you try to work out the scale ‘B major’ and end with anything but a ‘B’, you know you’ve made a mistake !

Good luck !


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