Sunday, April 28, 2013

Music Theory Part I -- The Major Scales


This is my first of several posts on music theory. I start with major scales and a detailed explanation of how to find and build each major scale.

As always send me feedback on this or any post.



Major Scales


I said in previous posts not to worry about Music theory as what is important right now is learning techniques of how to play the steel guitar. However, I am insanely curious and needed a break from practicing, so I thought I would take a break and put my curiosity to good use. So I started looking at some music theory and thought I would share my thoughts. In the next couple of posts I am going to share how to find the major and minor scales and how to create the chords in each of these scales. This will take us to Majors, minors and diminished. This will leave augmented and suspended to research. 


The figure below represents all the major scales. Note that we start with C and go and go clockwise to C# Major and each of the next Major scales is seven semi-tones from the previous. That is for C to G we have C#, D, D#, E, F, F#, and G. As you will see later as we move clockwise each scale has from 0 to 7 sharps. Now going from C and moving counter-clockwise to Cb Major and we still move seven semi-tones to get the next Major scale. 

Now that we have each of the Major scales, we need to find the notes for each scale. We have a formula of steps  
Whole - Whole - Half - Whole - Whole - Half. Now the C scale is easy since we have no sharps.



C Major


C          D          E          F          G          A          B          C
      W         W         H          W         W          W        H

As you can see this matches our pattern perfectly so no further work is needed. Now lets move on to the G scale and see how we get the notes.



Circle of Fifths



G Major:



We start out the same and just list our notes starting at our root of G.


G          A          B          C          D          E          F          G

Apply our step formula

G          A          B          C          D          E          F          G
      W         W        H          W         W         W         H

Note that our formula shows there is a whole step between F and G when our formula requires a G. To fix this we sharp F and we have:


G          A           B          C          D          E          F#          G

Lets do a couple more.



D Major


Start with root note of D

D          E           F          G          A          B          C          D

Now add our step pattern:

D          E           F          G          A          B          C          D
      W          W         H         W         W         W         H

Apply sharps to the scale to match our step pattern

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

Done!



A Major:


Start with root note of A

A          B          C          D          E          F          G          A

Now add our step pattern:

A          B          C          D          E          F          G          A
      W         W        H          W         W        W           H

Apply sharps to the scale to match our step pattern

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

Done!

I will leave the remainder of the clockwise scales as an exercise for you. Let’s take a look at the flats going counter-clockwise and see how to build the notes for each of those scales. 

We know that C has no flats or sharps, so we will start here and go backwards seven semi-tones.

1 2          3 4   5 6 7
C  B  Bb  A  Ab  G  Gb  F

So our next Major scale is F and to get the notes for F scale we know we have one flat note and we start at our root note of F.

F          G          A          B          C          D          E          F

We apply our step formula

F          G          A          B          C          D          E          F
      W        W          H         W         W          W         H

Adjust the notes to fit the pattern by adding a flat. Note that the interval distance between A and B is a full step and our formula requires a half step, so we lower B a half step to get the formula to fit.


F          G          A          Bb          C          D          E          F
      W         W        H           W          W        W          H

Done!

Lets do a couple more.




Bb Major:


So our next Major scale is Bb and to get the notes for Bb Major scale we know we have two flat notes and we start at our root note of Bb.

Bb          C          D          E          F          G          A          Bb

We apply our step formula

Bb  C  D E  F  G  A  Bb
        W         W          H          W       W          W         H

We do not have to adjust any notes here as Bb to C, Bb to B is a half step and B to C is a half step which totals a whole step and A to Bb is a half step. 


Bb  C          D          E          F          G          A          Bb
        W         W          H         W        W          W         H

Done!



Ab Major:


Lets do one with a little more work. Lets do Ab Major and we start with the root of A.

Ab  B  C  D  E  F  G  A

Apply our formula

Ab  B          C          D          E          F          G          Ab
        W         W          H         W         W         W          H

Apply flats to the notes so they match our formula. Ab to B is one and a half steps so we flat B. C to D is a whole step and needs to be a half step so we flat D and E must be flat as well. So we have.

Ab          Bb          C          Db          Eb          F          G          Ab
        W           W          H            W          W          W          H

I will let you do the rest as an exercise for yourself. This is how you identify the major scales and the notes for each scale. Below are two charts for the Major Scales. The first is a chart from C Major clockwise to F# Major showing increasing number of sharps. The second is from CMajor counter-clockwise to G# Major showing increasing number of flats. 




#
Scale
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
0
C Major
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
1
G Major
G
A
B
C
D
E
F#
2
D Major
D
E
F#
G
A
B
C#
3
A Major
A
B
C#
D
E
F#
G#
4
E Major
E
F#
G#
A
B
C#
D#
5
B Major
B
C#
D#
E
F#
G#
A#
6
F# Major
F#
G#
A#
B
C#
D#
E#
7
C# Major
C#
D#
E#
F#
G#
A#
B#







b
Scale
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
0
C Major
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
1
F Major
F
G
A
Bb
C
D
E
2
Bb Major
Bb
C
D
Eb
F
G
A
3
Eb Major
Eb
F
G
Ab
Bb
C
D
4
Ab Major
Ab
Bb
C
Db
Eb
F
G
5
Db Major
Db
Eb
F
Gb
Ab
Bb
C
6
Gb Major
Gb
Ab
Bb
Cb
Db
Eb
F
7
Cb Major
Cb
Db
Eb
Fb
Gb
Ab
Bb





In my next post on music theory I will explain the same technique for minor scales.









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