Everything You Need to Know About Major Scales in Music

How to Form a Major Scale in Any Key

Conceptual music conductor
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Scales refer to a series of notes that go in an ascending and descending manner. The major scale is the foundation from which all other scales are formed.

The notes on a major scale are numbered from 1 to 8, this signifies the intervals.

Formula to Form a Major Scale

There is a simple formula you can apply to form a major scale:

whole step—whole step—half step—whole step—whole step—whole step—half step

Keep in mind, there are 12 semitones (or notes) that form an octave in western music. There are whole tones and halftones. The halftones are formed by going a half-step up or down from the whole tone. Each of the semitones makes up the 12 semitones. Going a ​half-step is the smallest interval in western music. 

The formula to form a major scale involves using whole steps and half steps. 

Major Scale in Every Key

A C major scale begins with a C and ends with a C. It is the simplest to write in notation and demonstrate on a piano. It has no sharps or flats. On a piano, it is played by going from the C note on a keyboard, striking each key after it until you reach the next C—all white keys in succession from one C to the next. Playing from C to C is the completion of an octave (eight notes).

The same rule applies to the rest of the keys where a D major scale begins and ends with a D and so on. 

Key Notes That Form the Scale
C C - D - E - F - G - A - B - C
D D - E - F# - G - A - B - C# - D
E E - F# - G# - A - B - C# - D# - E
F F - G - A - Bb - C - D - E - F
G G - A - B - C - D - E - F# - G
A A - B - C# - D - E - F# - G# - A
B B - C# - D# - E - F# - G# - A# - B
C Sharp C# - D# - E# (=F) - F# - G# - A# - B# (=C) - C#
D Flat Db - Eb - F - Gb - Ab - Bb - C - Db
E Flat Eb - F - G - Ab - Bb - C - D -Eb
F Sharp F# - G# - A# - B - C# - D# - E# (=F) - F#
G Flat Gb - Ab - Bb - Cb (=B) - Db - Eb - F - Gb
A Flat Ab - Bb - C - Db - Eb - F - G - Ab
B Flat Bb - C - D - Eb - F - G - A - Bb

Major Scale As a Diatonic Scale

A major scale is considered a diatonic scale. Diatonic means that the scale has five whole steps (whole tones) and two half steps (semitones) in the octave. Many scales are diatonic including major, minor (the harmonic minor is an exception) and modal scales.