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Piano Music Scales

Let's take a closer look at some piano music scales to see how a scale is put together.

Although each scale might, on the surface, look different, they all follow a particular pattern so they always have something in common. For example, all the major scales follow one specific pattern; all the minor scales follow another.

So, once you know the pattern, you can apply it to other scales as well. And these scales work exactly the same for all instruments - guitar, flute, voice etc - not just piano.

What makes each scale unique is what note they begin and end on (eg a C major scale begins and ends on C; a D major scale begins and ends on D, and so on).

Piano Music Scales - Tones And Semitones

OK, so let's see what this pattern is that I keep talking about!

The pattern is a series of tones, or whole steps, and semitones, or half steps. It all sounds very theoretical doesn't it.... ...

but its not as complicated as it may sound. Think of the piano like a set of stairs, and how you move and up and down the stairs, by stepping up or stepping down. It's the same with the piano; you can move up or down the keyboard, and you might take a little step (semitone) or a more full step (tone).

A semitone is the smallest step you can make from one note to the other. So, moving from C to C#, or E to F: each of these are semitones.



But if you move from C straight to D instead then you are moving in tones (doing the math, this equates to two semitones C-C#; C#-D).



Piano Music Scales - The Major Scale

All major scales follow the pattern shown below, going up (to the right on a piano) a total of eight steps (you can also go back down eight steps if you want but this isn't always necessary):

step 1-2:tone
step 2-3:tone
step 3-4:semitone
step 4-5: tone
step 5-6: tone
step 6-7: tone
step 7-8: semitone

So you are moving in tones apart from step #3-4 (semitone) and #7-8 (semitone). And that's all there is to it...

Let's take the C Major scale as an example, I've labelled all the tones with a T and the semitones with ST:


C Major

And looking at the actual notes on the keyboard, you can see the semitones and tones visually:


C Major

The G major scale would follow exactly the same pattern of tones and semitones, but you'd just start and end on G instead.

Back to Piano Scales

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