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Fundamentals of Music: Major Scales and Keys

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by

Douglas Brown

on 26 March 2015

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Transcript of Fundamentals of Music: Major Scales and Keys

Chapter 5
Major Scales and Keys
The Circle of Fifths
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The Major Scale
is a series of pitches that are in a fixed order.
A
scale
...and for the purpose of this class,
is within the space of one octave.
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
one octave
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
C
D
This is a C Major scale.
Let's get a closer look.
Here's a little bit of a review.
From C to D is a
whole step
.
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
C
D
...so I'll put a
W
right here.
W
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
C
D
W
In fact, we know that all of the white keys with black keys in between are whole steps.
E
F
C
G
A
B
W
W
W
W
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
C
D
W
E
F
C
G
A
B
W
W
W
W
We also know that from E to F and from B to C are
half steps
because their is no black key in between.
H
H
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
W
W
W
W
W
H
H
So now we see a pattern of
whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half.
This is the pattern of
all
major scales.
I know this sounds silly, but this actually works.
Say it fast four or five times, and it will help you remember the pattern.
whole whole half whole whole whole half
W
H
W
W
W
H
W
Here is what C Major looks and
sounds like on the piano.
Now that you know the pattern, you can create any major scale beginning on any note.
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
F
The only major scale that uses all the white keys,
and nothing but the white keys, is C Major.
Here's a major scale built on F...
...but something is wrong.
They can't all be white keys. Hmm...
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
W
W
W
W
W
H
H
F
Let's put in our pattern and then adjust the notes to fit.
We can't change the F!
(because that's what our scale is built on)
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
W
W
W
W
W
H
H
F
C
D
E
F
F
G
A
B
W
W
W
This interval does not fit the pattern.
It should be a half step.
How do we fix it? We need to keep the A,
so let's lower the B to B-flat.
Let's begin at the bottom and work our way up.
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
W
W
W
W
W
H
H
F
C
D
E
F
F
G
A
B
W
W
H
Now that we have a half step in the right place,
let's check the rest of the scale.
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
W
W
W
W
W
H
H
F
C
D
E
F
F
G
A
B
W
W
H
W
W
W
H
Looks good.
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
F
C
D
E
F
F
G
A
B
Here is the final result without all the arrows and markings.
F Major... on accordion!
Ignore the stuff about chords near the end.
Here's an example for you to try.
Build a major scale on D.
Print out a sheet of staff paper and try it.
Don't go on in this lecture until you have at least tried.
Add the necessary accidentals.
D Major: the answers
W
W
W
W
W
H
H
D
G
F
A
E
B
C
D
W
H
W
W
W
W
H
B
G
F
A
E
B
C
D
W
H
W
W
W
W
H
W
H
W
W
W
W
H
Do not change the starting or ending note!
(If you do, it won't be B-flat Major anymore.)
Try one more. This one starts on B-flat.
B-flat Major: the answers
The Key Signature
A performer looking at this music could get confused.
Look at all those flats.
We
do
have one rule to help us:
Accidentals carry over until the end of a measure.
That's a little better...
...but not much.
This piece of music is based on the E-flat Major scale,
which means that it has B-flat, E-flat, and A-flat.
We can use a
key signature
to represent the E-flat Major scale.
G
F
A
E
B
C
D
E
A key signature replaces the need for accidentals.
key signature
There. Now the music is uncluttered, yet the performer knows that all B's, E's, and A's are flatted.
Even though the key signature only shows flats in this octave, every B, E, and A is flat, no matter which octave.
The sharps or flats in a key signature must each go into their designated spot.
B E A D G C F
F C G D A E B
First, this is the order
flats go in...
...and this is the order of sharps.
B
E
F
C
G
D
A
B
E
A
D
G
C
F
Here are a couple of mnemonics
to help you:
Bead
G
C
F
reatest
ommon
actor
F
G
D
A
E
B
C
at
ats
o
own
llies
ating
irds
B E A D G C F
F C G D A E B
Notice that these letters are the reverse of each other.
Flats
Sharps
C Major
No sharps
or flats
F Major
B-flat Major
E-flat Major
A-flat Major
D-flat Major
G-flat Major
C-flat Major
G Major
D Major
A Major
E Major
B Major
F-sharp Major
C-sharp Major
All 15 Possible
Major Keys

A better way to organize key signatures
Let's take a look at a number line.
You might recognize this from your
first or second grade math class.

Now lets apply the key signature to it.
And now we replace the numbers
with the corresponding keys.

That is, for example, E Major has 4 sharps.
Notice that some of the keys on the ends are enharmonic
with some of the keys on the other end.

Now, we can take our line and bend it around a little until...
...we get a circle.
This is widely known as
The Circle of Fifths
.
You will learn where it gets its name later.
Notice how the enharmonic
keys wrap around to meet each other.

:)
<END OF PRESENTATION>
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