Lesson 3 – Scales and keys


Joy of learning music


What is a scale?

A scale is a ladder of sound using 7 different notes (Remember this is the most basic way of defining – there are scales with 5 notes too but this is talking about the most common diatonic scale)

Why do we need a scale

a scale in basic terms is like 7 different colours given in your hands and your creativity as the brush to paint a picture which is a song

now in most basic sense (remembering creativity can take us beyond) there are different kinds of scales (which is different set of colours) which create different kinds of emotion.

Scale is a set of musical notes played one after the other in a sequence which has the power of creating an emotion

Example :

  • Minor Scale – Sad songs
  • Major Scale – Happy songs
  • Diminished Scale – Suspenceful
  • Harmonic minor – Arabian
  • Blues – upbeat, funny, dance, suspenseful


Now lets learn what the notes of the major scale are.

to find out the Major Scale there are 3 methods (one could be easier than the other)

  1. Major Scale Formula
  2. Circle of Fifths and Fourths
  3. Tetrachord

below ill be explaining each separately.


Major Scale Formula

Root   –  W – W – H – W – W – W – H

Follow through the steps

  • The H and W represent something Called INTERVALS
  • INTERVAL – is the distance between 2 notes
  • H is Half step (where from a certain note the immediate next note is HALF STEP) Example from C to C# is Half step
  • W is Whole step (where from a certain note , leave the next note and passing on to the next after it is Whole step)Example – from C to D is a Whole step
  • This pattern of Half and Whole steps could be followed upon anywhere on the keyboard


Applying the formula we get this result


whatever major scale you want to find  –  W – W – H – W – W – W – H

C   –   D  – E  –  F  –  G  –  A  –  B  – C




Look at the picture below – Circle of 5th is basically to find the scales with sharps(#) and Circle of 4th is to find scales with flats (b)



what are sharps and flats??

  • sharp is a sign that tells you  to raise the note higher by onestep, that is… the note immediately to the right side.
    • example : C to the immediate black key on the keyboard to the right of it is C#(C sharp)
  • flat is  a sign that tells you to lower the note by onestep, that is… the note immediately to the left side.
    • example : D to the immediate Black key on the keyboard to the left side is Db (D flat)





What is a tetrachord?

  • A tetrachord in basic terms is 4 notes. “Tetra” means 4 and “chord” in this context means “collection of tones”.
  • don’t mistake it for the chords that you normally hear (Harmony). Blame the Greeks for sometimes confusing terms

Interval Formula –  W W H (Whole Whole Half)

Lets take C for example – 

  • From the note “C to D” is Whole step – W
  • from the note “D to E” is Whole step -W
  • from the note “E to F” is Half step – H


Apply the same method starting from “G”


That’s about the scales.. if you have any questions ill be more than happy to answer..


Lets go to the next lesson

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