Thursday, October 4, 2012

More On Minors

Ok, now that we've learned the relationship between major and minor scales, let's take a look at the three different types of minor scales: natural minor, harmonic minor, melodic minor.

In the last post we worked with the natural minor scale. In C major scale the relative minor is A minor - A being the 6th tone of the C major scale.

Let's review:

C major scale:

C    D    E    F    G    A    B    C                                                                                                                
1     2     3    4     5     6     7     8                                                                                                                

A minor scale:

A    B    C    D    E    F    G    A                                                                                                              
1     2     3     4     5     6     7    8                                                                                                              

Notice that the A minor scale has the same key signature as C major - no sharps or flats.

Let's look at F major and it's relative minor, D minor:

F major scale:

F    G    A    Bb    C    D     E    F                                                                                                            
1     2     3     4      5     6      7     8                                                                                                            

D minor scale:

D    E    F    G    A    Bb    C    D            
1     2     3     4     5     6     7     8

Both of these minor scales are natural minor scales using the same key signature as their relative majors.

The next minor scale we will look at is the harmonic minor scale. It is like the natural minor scale except that the 7th tone is raised 1/2 step:

D harmonic minor scale:

D    E    F    G    A    Bb    C#    D
1     2    3     4     5     6       7      8

Now we come to the melodic minor scale. Again, this minor scale is the same it's natural minor scale but, when ascending, the 6th and 7th tones are raised 1/2 step and, when descending, it is played as a natural minor scale:

D melodic minor scale:

Ascending - D    E    F    G    A    B    C#    D
                     1    2     3    4     5     6     7       8

Descending - D    E    F    G    A    Bb    C    D
                      1     2    3     4     5     6       7     8

Choose your favorite major key, finds its relative minor, and play all three minor scales - natural minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor. For those of you a little more advanced, try finding places, in songs you know, where you can use one or all three of these minor scales.

Have fun!!!!


Monday, September 24, 2012


We know that we have major scales/keys and minor scales/keys, but let's take a look at how the two are related. It's quite simple really.

You'll notice that in the circle of fifths the major keys are on the outside of the circle and the minor keys are on the inside of the circle. This shows us that the major and minor key signatures are the same. For example, look at the top of the circle. You have C major and A minor - they both have the same key signature = no sharps or flats; G major and E minor both have one sharp (F#).

What is the theory behind this? Why are those particular majors paired with those particular minors? This is where their "relationship" comes into play. We call it the " relative minor". Each major scale has a relative minor scale and we find this by using our scale degrees. Begin on the first degree of any major scale and find the 6th tone. This is the relative minor of that major scale.

C   D   E   F   G   A   B   C                                                                                                                  
1    2    3   4    5    6    7    8                                                                                                                  

The key signature of the major scale will be the same for the relative minor scale. Try finding the relative minor of E major scale. What is the 6th tone of the E major scale? Yes, it is C#. So the relative minor to E major is C# minor.

Let's look at the scale pattern for a minor scale, using whole steps (ws) and half steps(hs):

A minor:

A    B    C    D    E    F    G    A  
   ws   hs   ws   ws  hs  ws  ws

C# minor:

C#    D#    E    F#  G#    A    B    C#
    ws     hs    ws   ws   hs    ws  ws

So the terms relative minor or relative 6th are really pretty easy to figure out once you know the formula. Have fun with this and see how many minor scales you can find using this formula.

Thanks for reading!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Let's Have A Little Fun!!!

A couple of years ago my girls brought a very interesting fact to my attention, via YouTube. Did you know that every pop song in the last 40 years uses the same four chords? It's true! They had me watch a YouTube video by Axis of Awesome - 4 Chords and I was astounded, mostly because I had never realized this. Every song uses the I, vi, V, IV chord progression (see the "Scale Degrees" post).

Here is the URL to the video (Warning: there is profanity in the beginning)

One of my students wanted only to play pop songs for their recital pieces. I had tried to explain to them that, unless they are arranged specifically for piano at an advanced level, they are pretty monotonous for the audience. Once I saw this video I shared it with them and they got it, to the point that they wanted to do a parody of it. So we did! It was a lot of fun and everyone was amazed at the validity in it.

Now I'm not knocking the I, iv, V, IV chord progression. It obviously is very successful! I just like to see my students broaden their horizon and go beyond that...and then go ahead and write a pop song, if they so wish. And, if they want a pop song to succeed, definitely use the I, vi, V, IV progression.  But, if you're going to write, or play, classical, jazz, symphonic metal, opera, etc., it will have to be much more complicated and original.

Hope you enjoyed the video as much as we did! Have a great week!!!

Friday, September 14, 2012


We're going to take a quick look at the order of sharps and flats. Why is this important? When we are writing music there is an order in which we write the sharps/flats on the staff and it is found on the circle of fifths.

Say you are going to compose a piece of music in the key of D. You know, by the circle of fifths, that there are two sharps in the key of D = F# and C#. When writing the key signature on the staff you must write the F# first and then the C#. Why? Because, on the circle of fifths, G is a fifth up from C and has one sharp in it, which is F#. It is the first sharp in the circle of fifths.


How do we know that F is sharped in the key of G? This takes us back to our major scale pattern:
WS   WS   HS   WS   WS   WS   HS                                                                                                        
Begin on G on the keyboard and follow this pattern and you will find that F is the only sharped note in G major scale.

If we follow our circle of fifths the sharps are in this order: F#, C#, G#, D#, A#, E#, B#. Another way to think of it is in fifths. Notice that each sharp is a fifth up from the latter.

This is what the order of sharps looks like on the staff:

So when you are writing the D key signature you would write the order of F# and C# in the order seen here: F# first, C# sharp following.

Now let's look at the order of flats. The same rule applies. We find which notes are flatted by using our major scale pattern. Then when writing the key signature we place the flats in the proper order that they are in on the circle of fifths: Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb, Cb, Fb. Another way to think of the order of flats is to think in fifths. Each flat is a fifth DOWN from the latter.

Here is what the order of flats looks like on the staff:

If you were writing the key signature for Eb it would be as follows: Bb, Eb, Ab

Hope this is helpful. Feel free to leave any comments or questions.                                      

Monday, August 27, 2012

Circle of Fifths - yes, it's your friend

The circle of fifths really is your friend.

 Example - you're playing in a jam session and they say, "this is in the key of A.", and you have no idea what sharps or flats are in the key of A.

 If you know your circle of fifths (yes, memorize it) or have it near you until it's memorized, you can take a quick look (in your head, on paper, ipad, smartphone, etc) and know immediately what sharps or flats are in the key the song is played in.

There is so much confusion about the circle of fifths, but it really is quite simple when you learn the formula. In case you don't know this, the reason it is called the circle of fifths is because it is arranged by fifths. Let's take a look at the C major scale with scale degrees:                                                      

C     D     E     F     G     A     B                                                                                                                
1     2       3     4     5      6      7                                                                                                                  

If we use the scale degrees, starting at C (1) and walk up the keyboard (clockwise on the circle) to the 5th degree we will land on G. Therefore, we have walked up a fifth. Then if we walk up a fifth from G we will land on D:

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

Regardless of where you begin on the circle, you will go up a 5th from that key and the next key will have one more sharp or one less flat.

Here's a good diagram of the circle of fifths for the guitar:

One last thing I want to mention about the circle of fifths -  the major keys are one the outside of the circle and the minor keys are on the inside of the circle, but the rule of fifths still applies. A to E is an interval of a fifth, regardless of whether it is a minor or a major key.

Any questions or comments? Post it here or email me:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Key Signatures

In looking back at the previous posts, I realized that I didn't cover key signatures. Knowing your key signatures is important. If you look at a piece of music and see two sharps (#) on the right of the treble and bass clefs, you need to know what that means. It all goes back to major scales.

Remember the major scale pattern? WS, WS, HS, WS, WS, WS, HS (WH = whole step;HS = half step). This is why we have sharps and flats in a scale. Let's look at our G major scale:                    
G, A, B, C, D, E, F#, G - notice that this pattern gives us an F#. So if you see a piece of music with F# in the key signature, you know that the song is in the key of G major.

Now let's look at the Bb major scale, using the major scale pattern: Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb        
See the two flats(b)? So, a piece of music with two flats is in Bb major.

Start on any note and use the major scale pattern. You will find any major key you need. In the future, we will go more in depth and study the circle of fifths. Did I hear someone groan? Regardless of what many may think, the circle of fifths is you friend. ;)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Lead Sheets

Now that we've talked a bit about scales, scale degrees, intervals, chords, chord voicing, and roman numerals, let's take a look at lead sheets.

Here's a lead sheet of a piece written by Cole Porter:

Notice that a lead sheet has only the melody line, the chord names, and the words. Lead sheets do vary. Some may not have the melody lines. So what do we do with this?

You may be accompanying someone or playing lead with lead sheets, sometimes both. Whatever the case may be, the same rules pretty much apply. You use the chords for both bass and treble, for the most part. This is where chord voicing comes in and is important. If you are accompanying someone you can just voice the chord in both hands (or very open, on stringed instruments) while keeping timing. If you are playing in a band with a bass and/or drummer, remember to follow their timing. If you are the only instrument you must provide the rhythm. For instance, on piano play the bass of the chord on beats 1 and 3. If the voicing is C, B in the l.h. and E, G in th r.h. then play the interval of C, B on beat one and a G on beat 3, in the l.h. There are many variations of voicing. It's something you have to play around with and play what sounds best and what you like. 

You'll find lead sheets like this in jazz fake books, on line, from other musicians, etc. They are abundant.

The lead sheet above was found at You can find many lead sheets there and download for free. Check it out and try working out some songs on lead sheets. Don't think you don't know enough. You know how to build a major scale, how to build chords, and how to voice them. If you get stuck, come back and ask me for help. I love to see people learn....especially music! If you don't want to ask on a post, email me at

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

More on Intervals

We looked briefly at intervals a few posts ago and now we are going to go a little more in depth.

 Let's review a bit first:
What is an interval? = the distance between two tones. Therefore, C to D (1 to 2) is a 2nd, C to E (1 to 3) is a 3rd, etc. Now we are going to learn the difference between major and minor intervals.

We will begin with the interval of a 2nd. We know that two half steps make a 2nd (F to G). This is what is called a major 2nd. To make a major 2nd into a minor 2nd we simply go one half step (F to Gb).
So this is how to look at major and minor intervals:

Major 2nd = two half steps
Minor 2nd = one half step

Major 3rd = four half steps
Minor 3rd = three half steps

Major 6th = nine half steps
Minor 6th = eight half steps

Major 7th = eleven half steps
Minor 7th = ten half steps

Notice the intervals of a 4th, 5th, and 8th aren't there? That is because they are what is called a Perfect interval - they are neither major or minor. You cannot change them.

Perfect 4th
Perfect 5th
Perfect 8th (octave)

Now, in the future, when you see major, minor, or perfect intervals, you will understand the terms.

Thanks for reading. Hope you enjoyed this.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Chord Voicing

In the last post we learned a couple of things: one, how roman numerals are used in chords/scales and, two, the formula of breaking a major chord/scale down to its most closed form, the diminished chord/scale.

Now we are going to look at how to voice chords. What is voicing? It is simply playing chords very open or very closed. For example, let's look at a G7. In root position it would look like this: G, B, D, F. We can play all of these notes in bass and treble. On the piano it would look like this:

 L. H. (bass) G, F (fingering: 5, 1)
R.H. (treble) D, B (fingering: 1, 5)
This is an open voicing.                                                                                                
Or you can play closed voicing, which would look like this:

L.H. (bass) B, F (fingering: 3, 1)
R.H. (treble) D, G (fingering: 1, 4)
Or if you want it really closed you can play all notes in either bass or treble:

D, F, G, B  or F, G, B, D
or any combination of the notes in the chord.                                                                              
If you choose to play the entire chord in the bass, it is best to play all notes no lower than bass C (the C one octave below middle C).

If you are not familiar with reading chords with the note names written vertically, and see them like that,  you want to build the chord up from the bottom note. For instance, in the last example (closed chord, all in one clef) you would play it;

 F, G, B, D                                                                                                                      
fingering:        1,  2,  3,  5 (R.H.)   5, 4, 2, 1 (L.H.)
I realize this is keyboard theory, but if you play guitar (or any other stringed instrument) I'm sure you understand this concept of open and closed voicing. If not, let me know and I will be happy to post the information for you. We all learn differently, so don't ever hesitate to ask. :)                          

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chords/scales and Roman Numerals

As I sit here, finally enjoying.....breakfast, my mind is full of music theory that I want to share with you.
So here we go!

In the last post we looked at three different major chords (C, F, G) and making them into dominant 7th (or 7th) chords. Now that we have three major chords of a major scale (C major scale) we can look at how Roman numerals interact with chords and scales.

Roman numerals follow the same pattern as scale degrees (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, etc). It just looks different:
I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii, VIII (usually written as I). There is a reason we are using upper case and lower case Roman numerals and it's very simple. The upper case tells us which chords are major and the lower case tell us which chords are minor. It looks like this:                                                                
C         D         E         F         G         A         B         C                                                                          
I          ii          iii        IV        V        vi         vii         I                                                                            
1         2           3         4          5         6          7          1    (scale degrees)                                                

Now, I know we haven't gotten into how minor scales/chords are created, so we will look at that now.

Changing scales and chords from major to minor or diminished is really just a formula that you need to memorize. The first step in that formula has already been done when we changed the major 7th chord to a dominant 7th chord by flatting (lowering the 7th a half step) the 7th (B to Bb). The second step in the formula creates the minor scale/chord:                                                  

C minor scale - C        D        Eb        F        G        A        Bb        C                                                    
                         1         2         3          4         5         6         7           8 (or I)                                          

So the formula to change a major to a minor goes like this:                                                                  
1. flat the 7th  (Bb in C scale)                                                                                                    
2. flat the 3rd (Eb in C scale)                                                                                                                
Now you have C minor scale. To make the C minor 7th  chord you just use the 1, 3b, 5, 7b =            
C, Eb, G, Bb

So there is the first two steps in the formula that helps change chords. The next two steps will show us how to write/play diminished chords. There are two types of diminished chords. The first is a half diminished (symbol = usually a C with a circle-o with a slash through it). This is the third step in the formula:
C, Eb, Gb, Bb  OR  1, 3b, 5b, 7b = either way, you have flatted the 5th (lowered it a half step) and  your half diminished chord.
The formula to create a half diminished chord is this (using the C scale):
1. flat the 7th (Bb)
2. flat the 3rd (Eb)
3. flat the 5th (Gb)

The next step will make it a full diminished chord. You flat the 7th AGAIN. This is called double flatting or lowering the note (7th) two half steps:                                                                                  
C, Eb, Gb, Bbb   OR   1, 3b, 5b, 7bb = either way - full diminished chord.
The formula (C scale):
1. flat the 7th (Bb)
2. flat the 3rd (Eb)
3. flat the 5th (Gb)
4. flat the 7th AGAIN (Bbb)

Any confusion or questions? Let me know and thanks for reading.                                                                                                                                                

Monday, July 30, 2012

Dominant 7th Chords

Now we're ready to delve deeper into chords and how we can add spice to our music. First, we are going to look at making a major 7th chord into a dominant 7th chord. It's really very simple. All we do is flat (lower a half step) the 7th: C, E, G, Bb (b = symbol for flat). Or if you want to think of this in scale degrees it would be 1, 3, 5, b7. The symbol for this chord would be C 7.

This dominant 7th chord can be played in all the inversions: 1st inversion (E, G, Bb, C), 2nd inversion (G, Bb, C, E), and 3rd inversion (Bb, C, E, G).

Now lets look at doing this with a different major chord:

F M7 = F, A, C, E

F 7 = F, A, C, Eb

ROOT = F, A, C, Eb
1st inversion = A, C, Eb, F
2nd inversion = C, Eb, F, A
3rd inversion = Eb, F, A, C

Now we're going to do this with the G7 chord:

G M7 = G, B, D, F# (# = symbol for sharp, which means raise the note a half step)

G7 = G, B, D, F (root)

1st inversion = B, D, F, G
2nd inversion = D, F, G, B
3rd inversion = F, G, D, B

Notice we have made this chord a dominant 7th (or 7th) chord by flatting the 7th, which made the F a natural F instead of an F#.

One of the keys to jazz is the 7th chord. 7ths are added to almost every chord in jazz music. It is much more complex than that, but that is one of the first rules of thumb in jazz.

Now we are ready to learn how Roman Numerals work in music, which we will venture into on the next post.

Thanks for reading and have a great day!!!

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Chord Building: Adding the 7th

Let's enjoy the evening and take a look at major 7th chords.

Now we're going to look at adding one more note to the major triad, making it a 4 note chord;therefore, no longer a triad, but a major 7th chord. Here's how we do it -

C, E, G, B (1, 3, 5, 7)

Just by adding another interval of a 3rd on the top, we have built a C major 7th chord. It can be symbolized in two different ways - CM7 or C Maj 7.
We can also invert this chord, just as we did the C major triad:
Root = C, E, G, B
1st inversion = E, G, B, C
2nd inversion = G, B, C, E
3rd inversion = B, C, E, G
We now have three inversions because of the added interval

Let's look at the intervals of these inversions now:
Root = C, E, G, B - this is three 3rds built one upon the other
1st inversion = E, G, B, C - here we have a 3rd (E to G) on the bottom, a 3rd (G to B) in the middle, and an interval of a 2nd (B to C) on the top.
2nd inversion = G, B, C, E = again we have a 3rd (G to B) on the bottom, a 2nd (B to C) in the middle, and a 3rd on the top.
3rd inversion = B, C, E, G - on the bottom, we have an interval of a 2nd (B to C), a 3rd (C to E) in the middle , and a 3rd (E to G) on the top.

Notice that there are no 4ths in the chords because the 7th (scale degree) has been added.

Next time we will look at building a dominant 7th chord.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Let's go back to building chords. We talked about building triads with intervals of 3rds and now we're going to look at playing the same triads as different intervals. The notes will all be the same, but in different positions. For example:

G                                                                                                       C
E                                                                                                       G
C      is the root position of C major triad. It can also be played as   E . This is what is called the 1st inversion of the same chord, same notes, different positioning of the notes. This same chord can also be played as  E, C, G    - This is called the 2nd inversion of the C major chord.

In  both of these inversions, 1st and 2nd, notice how the different positioning changes the intervals.

E  = E to G is still an interval of a  3rd, but on the bottom, in the 1st inversion and G to C is an interval of a 4th, on the top.

G = G to C is the interval of a 4th, but on the bottom in the 2nd inversion, with C to E being an interval of a 3rd, on the top.

For some students it may be easier to think of the triads in terms of scale degrees instead of intervals, so let's take a look at that. If you would like you may refer to an older post about major scales that looks at scales degrees and how they work.
With the scale degrees being 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8,  for each scale (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C) you can look at how the notes line up with the degrees. C=1, D=2, E=3, F=4, G=5. etc. So if you take scale degrees 1, 3, 5, you will have the notes C, E, G which are the C major triad.

Any questions or comments are welcome. Hope this is helpful.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Head Trauma and Music (con't)

Since I began teaching I have had quite a few students with different types of head/brain trauma. I will tell you a bit about a couple of them in this post.

One student had only a small portion of their frontal lobe. The last week they were in the womb they  had a stroke that  totally deteriorated a large portion of their frontal lobe, therefore leaving them with limited short-term memory. Having this information I knew that it would take a lot of repetitive teaching of each lesson if I taught a regular piano method, so I chose to create a method that would jump-start the long term memory. In doing this the student began learning to play songs quickly by playing what they heard. Then as they progressed, reading music was easier because they had had the written music of what they were playing in front of them as they played.

Another student was hit by a car and acquired a head injury/brain trauma. They had piano lessons a couple of years before and played saxophone in band at the time. Six months after the accident they came to me for piano lessons. They could no longer play in band because the noise of multiple instruments was too much ( which I totally understood). I have seen this student make strides in so many ways. They remembered all of the basics of piano playing, but they too had a little disconnection with the hand/eye coordination. I began doing eye exercises with them, along with a piano method created for them, and have seen such an improvement. I also spoke with their eye therapist and was told that this students reading has improved very rapidly because  they are taking piano lessons.

The reason music plays such a huge role in head/brain trauma healing is that it makes both sides of the brain work at the same time and they are finding new pathways to "replace" pathways that have been damaged. It helps with reconnecting with things that one could do before the trauma, but not afterwards.

I've taught many students with things like head/brain trauma to strokes, etc. From personal experience and working with others, I can say, without a doubt, that music is a healing tool.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Head Trauma and Music

Let's take a break from theory and talk about music and head trauma. It may seem like a strange turn in subject, but I am  very familiar with head trauma and teach people with head/brain trauma.

I want to keep this short and simple, but also be concise on why I do what I do. As a teenager, I played classical music ( piano). At the age of 15 I acquired an acute head injury. When I went home from the hospital the first thing I did was sit down at the piano to play one of my favorite pieces. It was quite a shock when I absolutely could not play. Reading the notes and knowing where they were on the piano was no problem. I just had a disconnect with my  brain sending the information to my hands. My hand/eye coordination just wasn't there. For many weeks, months I kept going back and trying, but my ability to play was gone....or so I thought.

They didn't know a lot about head/brain trauma back then, but I had an older brother that was watching me very closely. One day he asked me why I wasn't playing anymore and I told him I just couldn't make the connection. Months later, maybe a year, he gave me a book on jazz improvisation. It was all about playing lead sheets with Roman numerals. It was all new to me, but made total sense. A few weeks later he got the music director of the college he was attending to give me jazz piano lessons. It all came so easily to me and I began playing again.

Since then, I went to college, majoring in music (keyboard) and began teaching a few years later. I was afraid to share this with my students, thinking they would think I shouldn't be teaching. But then I realized that we all learn differently and that I could help people like me learn to play.

In the next post I will share with you the progress some of my students with head/brain trauma have made and are still making.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Building Chords

It's a beautiful evening, so lets relax and take a look at music theory.

We will look into building basic chords. Chords are built with intervals. First we will begin with triads (3 note chords). Once again we will use the C major scale to demonstrate chord building:

C  D  E  F  G  A  B  C (or scale degrees: 1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8 )

To build the C major triad you will use 3 notes - C, E, G (scale degrees 1, 3, 5). Notice that these notes are just two intervals - a 3rd with a 3rd on top. Let's look at this chord vertically to see the intervals:

G (5)
E (3)
C (1)

Go to a keyboard and see that the distance from C to E is a 3rd, as is the distance from E to G. Therefore, a triad is two intervals of 3rds. If this seems a little confusing, refer back to the post on intervals. In music theory, it is always good to have notes (posts) to refer back to.

The three major chords of the key of C are C, F, and G. Let's build these chords, just as we did the previous chord, except without the scale degrees:

G        C        D
E        A         B
C        F         G

The notes that are in bold are the root of the chord and identify which note it is: C is C major triad, F is F major triad, G is G major triad.

You can build triad chords this way using any scale.

In the next post we will talk about using roman numerals and how they relate to scales and chords.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Music Therapy

As I was sitting with my 5 month old niece in the hospital, a music therapist came in and played the harp for her. It was so soothing and comforting. Music therapy is such an amazing tool in healing. One of my piano students is entering the music therapy program this Fall. It will be fun and interesting to follow her through this journey.

Intervals - the distance between two tones

Now we will look at building intervals. First we need to know what the term interval actually means:
An interval is the distance between two tones. It's as simple as that. So the interval of a 2nd is two half steps (or one whole step), a 3rd is two whole steps, a 4th is two whole steps and one half step (figure 1)

fig. 1


1  2  3  4 5  6   7  8

In other words, from C to D (1 to 2) is a 2nd, C to D (1 to 3) is a 3rd, C to F (1 to 4) is a 4th, etc. This is where the scale degrees come into play.

Next time we will venture into building chords.

 If you have any questions or comments on any of the posts feel free to comment or ask.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Scale Degrees

Ok, now that we've covered the major scale pattern, we're going to go a little more in depth. Scale degrees play an important part in understanding scales, intervals, and chords. There are 8 tones in a major scale: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C
                     1, 2, 3, 4,  5,  6,  7,  8
These scale degrees are important in many ways. First of all, when we look at the major scale pattern (ws, ws, hs, ws, ws, ws, hs) we will notice that the half steps fall on degrees 3 & 4 and 7& 8, in all major scales.
Secondly, when forming intervals we use scale degrees: 2nd,3rd, 4th, etc. We will go into forming intervals in the next post.

Hope this clarifies scales for those of you that want simplified music theory. :)

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Major Scale Pattern

One of the key elements to understanding music theory is knowing and memorizing the scale patterns. First we start with the major scale pattern, which is:
whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step

A half step is one key to the very next key, whether it is white or black. A whole step is two half steps, meaning there will be one key between. For example, C to C# is a half step. C to D is a whole step.

This pattern works with any major scale (C, G, D, A, E, B, F#, F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, Gb). If you begin with the first note of the scale you are wanting to play and follow the major scale pattern, you can learn to play any of the major scales.