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Music Theory Lesson 1 - The Chromatic Scale


In this lesson, we will look at the formulation of the chromatic scale. First, here is a bit of terminology that you should become familiar with.

 


Half Step- The distance from a note to the note adjacent to it, in either direction.
Example: C- (C#/Db), C – B  The minor 2nd interval = 1/2 step.
Note: B – C  and  E – F  are natural half steps, occuring without a sharp or flat between them.

 


Whole Step- The distance equivalent to 2 half steps 
Example: C – D, F# – G#
The Major 2nd interval = 1 whole step.

 


Sharp – raising a note by 1/2  step. e.g. raising A by one half step is A sharp. (sharp denoted by #).

 


Flat -  lowering a note by 1/2 step. e.g. lowering B by 1/2 step is B flat. (flat denoted by b).
Enharmonic Equivalent – 2 notes that sound alike but are spelled differently
Example:   C# and Db…………  A# and Bb…………..E and Fb  etc.
Remember, since B – C and E – F are natural half steps, B = Cb…..B# = C………E = Fb. E# = F

 


Musical Alphabet – A , B , C , D , E , F , G   note: there is no H or above in music terminology.

 


Chromatic Scale – Scale consisting of 12 notes, each 1/2 step apart.
There are 12 notes available in standard Western Music, therefore there are 12 notes in the chromatic scale, and 12 Chromatic scales
Example: The C chromatic scale:
C – (C#/Db ) – D – ( D#/Eb ) – E – F – ( F#/Gb ) – G – ( G#/Ab ) – A – ( A#/Bb ) – B
^                ^    ^                ^   ^    ^               ^     ^                ^    ^               ^
1/2            1/2  1/2            1/2 1/2 1/2            1/2  1/2             1/2 1/2            1/2
Each note above can represent the root in its own chromatic scale.

 


Exercise: Write out each chromatic scale begining with the A chromatic scale and ending with the (Ab/G#) chromatic scale.

 


The next lesson will explore the Major scale.