What is a music scale?

Introduction

A music scale with notes is one of the most important aspects in music theory and practice, and, in Amsterdam Music Academy we know it!. They will not only help you learn concepts like key, harmony or musical grades, but also, make your instrumental technique and improvisation improve greatly. Let's go for it!

Table of Contents

Music Scales - Featured image

Music scale definition

A music scale is a sequence of successive notes or sounds, ascending or descending. It’s one of the most important concepts in music theory. 

Music scale with notes: C Major Scale

Studying music scale C Major everything is much easier, as probably you already know,  right? (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-(C). You can also think of the white notes of a piano, naturally, you will hear C Major Scale. Well, so far we already know one of the most important scale in the world!

Music Scales with notes

– Ok, I already know C Major Scale, what about D Major? I just start from D an keep going up until the next D, right? 

Easy… but, NO! Don’t worry it’s something similar to that but let me explain this a bit more. If you look at C Major Scale you will notice that there aren’t any black notes between E-F and B-(C), that’s because the distance between these two pairs of notes is ONE SEMITONE (also called half-tone). The rest of the notes just have ONE tone distance.

C major scale with notes 2

Types of music scales

What are the different types of scales in music? There are many different kinds of scales, each of them with one specific pattern. Most known are major and minor scales but besides those we also have the pentatonic (very used in modern music), chromatic, frigium, etc. Let’s just have a look at them.

Music scale patterns: Major

Here comes the best part! If you understood everything up until now, you could perfectly form the rest of the major scales, let’s do an example in 3 steps: G major

🎹 First we write the notes of G major scale
🎹 We write the Major Scale Pattern underneath (T-T-S-T-T-T-S)
🎹 If the distance defined by our pattern doesn’t correspond with the notes we “fix” it by adding a sharp (#) so it matches perfectly.

G major music scale

As you can see in the previous image, from the F (one-but-last note) and the last G (last note) there is, naturally, a whole tone. In order to match the Semitone required by the pattern we just add a sharp (#) and that’s it! We could do exactly the same thing for all the scales. Just remember that every type of scale have a different pattern

Music scale patterns: Minor

The same process is used for minor scales, but using a different pattern, the Minor Scale pattern: T-ST-T-T-ST-T-T

All the scales in music

All the most used music scales in music

Major Scale
Minor Scale
Chromatic Scale 
Pentatonic Scale  
Tones Scale
Hungarian Scale
Blues Scale

T-T-S-T-T-T-S
T-S-T-T-S-T-T
S-S-S-S…
T-T-1,5T-T-1,5T
T-T-T-T-T-T-T…
T-S-1,5T-S-ST-1,5T
1,5T-T-S-S-1,5T-T

Learn how to play minor scales in piano

Download all the music scales and other piano technique exercises at Schmitt Piano Exercises

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