They're Easy To Learn If You Bother To Note
The Useful Info That They Contain,
Take It All In, Don't Learn Them By Rote,
I Promise The Effort Will Not Be In Vain!

Here is a list of all major scales, each with some extra information that makes learning them a much more interesting and satisfying task.
It is my experience that if you take the complete content of the major scale on board, everything else in your music studies will become easier.

How to learn major scales:

  • The distance between notes is the same in each scale:
    Whole Tone - Whole Tone - Half Tone - Whole Tone - Whole Tone - Whole Tone - Half Tone
  • Rote learning of scales by running them up and down by 1 or 2 octaves is old fashioned music education practice.
  • You must OWN each Tonal or Key Center completely. You must feel it, hear it and see it.
  • Whether you're learning jazz or classical music, or anything in between, it is a great pleasure to be able to "wallow" in each sound.
    You must learn to:
    • improvise a melody in any key, simple or tricky, using scale notes only.
    • weave around each scale using interval patterns.
    • play 3, 4 or 5 note arpeggios, up or down, in any key.
    • generally feel so at home in any key that nothing is a surprise.
    • slide from one key sound to any other with complete ease.
  • Be aware that from scale to scale only one note changes.
    Scroll to the C-scale in the middle of the list below:
    Now note that by simply flattening the 7th note (B to Bb), you've slid into F Major. Do the same with F and you're into Bb and so on.
    Moving down in the other direction from C-major, you realize that by sharpening the 4th note (F to F#) you now play in the key of G. Make the same alteration to G and your key center moves to D etc.
  • So: It is never about learning 7 new notes from key to key, but just ONE.

The list of major scales is laid out like my "flat" circle of 5ths, with the left end at the top, C-major in the middle and the right at the bottom. (I've even included Cb and C# this time!).

Explanation of abbreviations:

  • GT = Guide Tone [for a full explanation on GT's go HERE]
  • T9 = Tension Note 9th: The second (or ninth) note is considered to be a tension. It can be used in the chord [see Diatonic Chord Progression] and also makes an interesting melody note.
  • A = Avoid Note: The 4th note is a no-no in the major chord because it clashes against the most important GT 3rd note. Melodically it is best to use the 4th as a passing note and not linger on it for any length of time or too often.
    Play a Major triad or 4-note chord and sing the 4th against it and you'll feel and hear the "rasp".
  • 6 = Alternate chord tone: The 6th note is just a more old fashioned sounding cousin of the 7th. It is used freely in melodies and can be interchanged with the 7th in chords, depending on the melody note used. More advanced harmonies use both 6th & 7th, but not necessarily next to each other.
    More on chords and voicings HERE.
All Major Scales - Cb
All Major Scales - Gb
All Major Scales - Db
All Major Scales - Ab
All Major Scales - Eb
All Major Scales - Bb
All Major Scales - F
All Major Scales - C
All Major Scales - G
All Major Scales - D
All Major Scales - A
All Major Scales - E
All Major Scales - B
All Major Scales - F#
All Major Scales - C#

Start with your first scale and take the time
to absorb the info contained inside it
and you'll find, that learning each new one
will become easier and easier.

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