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Music Theory Lesson 2 - The Major Scale
Major Scale – The main scale which Western Civilization music bases its harmony. Yes there are many other scales; natural minor, whole tone, and lydian to name a few, but the basis for our harmononic fundamentals unfolds from the major scale. 
The major scale consists of 7 notes with a fixed whole step / half step pattern, as seen below:
 1         2          3         4        5        6        7        (8)*
      ^          ^          ^         ^         ^         ^        ^ 
     W         W      1/2       W        W        W     1/2 * 


The eighth note is the repeat of the first (the root of the scale) as in: 
Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti ( Do) 
Example of all of the major scales:
 C - D - E -  F - G -  A -  B - C
     ^   ^    ^     ^     ^     ^    ^
      W W 1/2  W   W    W  1/2


                                              G A B C D E F# G                                                                     F G A Bb C D E F
                                              D E F# G A B C# D                                                                   Bb C D Eb F G A Bb
                                              A B C# D E F# G# A                                                                 Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb
                                              E F# G# A B C# D# E                                                               Ab Bb C Db Eb F G Ab 
                                              B C# D# E F# G# A# B                                                             Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C Db
                                              F# G# A# B C# D# E# F#                                                         Gb Ab Bb C Db Eb F Gb
                                              C# D# E# F# G# A# B# C# Cb                                                 Db Eb Fb Gb Ab Bb Cb
 
NOTE: Whereas the key of C has no sharps or no flats, the key of C# has all sharps, and the key of Cb has all flats.
The major scales are layed out in what is called the circle of 4ths and 5ths.


  To explain this simply, if you look down the left column of scales, the first scale is G, which is the fifth note in the key of C.  Every other scale in that column follows suit, D being the fifth note in the key of G, then A being the fifth note in the key of D, and so on.

 (That column is referred to as the circle of 5ths) In the right column the first key is F, which is the fourth note in the key of C. Every other scale in that column follows suit, Bb being the fourth note in the key of F, then Eb being the fourth note in the key of Bb, and so on.


 Looking closer at the left column, you see that there is one more sharp added to every key, until C# , which has all sharps. Looking closer at the right column, you see that there is one more flat added to every key, until Cb , which has all flats. 


To memorize all of the major scales, you just need to remember a few fixed rules: Sharp Keys – Shown in the left column
  1. Every key in the column is the 5th note of the previous key.
  2. The new sharp in every key falls on the 7th note. (And not arbitrarily; if you follow the W-W-1/2-W-W-W-1/2 rule, you will find that this holds true)
  3. The order in which the sharps fall are as follows: F# – C# – G# – D# – A# – E# – B# 


To show you how simple this is, lets take the key of A as an example. The 7th note in A , counting up is the new sharp, G# , and that key includes all of the previous sharps in the order to include, F# & C#.. Therefore, the key of A has 3 sharps; F# C# and G#. 


The 7th note in C#, counting up is the new sharp, B#, and that key includes all of the previous sharps in the order to include F# ,C#, D# ,A# & E#. Therefore, the key of C# has 7 sharps, F# C#, G#, D#,A#, E# & B#.



 Flat Keys – Shown in the right column.
  1. Every key in the column is the 4th note of the previous key.
  2. The new flat in every key falls on the 4th note.
  3. The order in which the sharps fall are as follows: Bb – Eb – Ab – Db – Gb – Cb – Fb 



Take the key of Eb. The fourth note of Eb, counting up is the new flat, Ab, and that key includes all of the previous flats to include Bb & Eb. Therefore the key of Eb has 3 flats, Bb, Eb & Ab. 


If you memorize the order of sharps and flats and remember which scale degree the new sharp or flat falls on, then you will be able to remember each “key signature”. 


Backtracking to the “Circle”. You can actually complete each circle as follows: 

5ths: C – G – D – A – E – B – F# – C# – (G# / Ab) – ( D# / Eb ) – (A# / Bb ) – (E# / F) – (B# – C ) 
The circle is now complete. 


4ths: C – F – Bb – Eb – Ab – Db – Gb – Cb – ( Fb / E ) – ( Bbb / A ) – ( Ebb / D ) – (Abb – G ) – ( Dbb / C) 
another complete circle. 



The reason I showed the enharmonic equivolents of some notes should be obvious. 
Whereas the key of Bbb would correctly have all flats and include Bbb and Ebb , 
( Bbb , Cb , Db , Ebb , Fb , Gb , Ab ), it is not practical. 



So less technically , but more practically: 
The circle of 5ths: 
C – G – D – A – E – B – F# – C# – Ab – Eb – Bb – F…and back to C. 


The circle of 4ths: C – F – Bb – Eb – Ab – Db – Gb – Cb – E – A – D – G…and back to C. 



Remember
There is a lot of technical jargon here, but once you get past it and learn your scales, you don’t have to always think of everything that goes into it. Like a pro golfer who at first looks at all of the fundamentals, angle, swing path, shoulder turn vs. hip turn, etc… There comes a time when one must have these things engrained in the mind and they must just swing the club, or in our case, play the instrument. 



Never lose focus on the ART of music, and remember these theoretical truths are NOT music but tools and fundamentals.