major scale

Definition of Major Scale:


A major scale is a series of notes characterized by its relatively happy and positive character. A major scale starts with a keynote and follows the major diatonic pattern of steps, which consists of whole steps and half steps in the following order:

  I_whole_ii_whole_iii_half_IV_whole_V_whole_vi_whole_vii°_half_I (next octave)

(G -------- a --------- b -------- C --------- D --------- e --------- f------ G)


(C ___ d ___ e ___ F ___ G ___ a ___ b° ___ C)


Understanding the Major Scale Above:


  • The uppercase roman numerals signify the location of the major chords in the scale, while lowercase signifies minor chords.
  • The symbol ° indicates a diminished chord.


Compare the major scales above to their relative minor scales:


(e ___ f#° ___ G ___ a ___ b ___ C ___ D ___ e)


(a ___ b° ___ C ___ d ___ e ___ F ___ G ___ a)


▪ Major Practice Scales for Piano


Forming Major Piano Chords:
 ▪  Chord Types & Their Symbols
 ▪  Essential Piano Chord Fingering
 ▪  Comparing Major & Minor Chords

See minor scale.


Also Known As:

  • scala maggiore (It)
  • échelle majeure (Fr)
  • Durtonleiter (Ger)


Pronunciation: may'-djer  skayl

More Musical Terms:


Beginner Piano Lessons
 ▪  The Piano Keyboard Layout
 ▪  The Black Piano Keys
 ▪  Finding Middle C on the Piano
 ▪  Find Middle C on Electric Keyboards
 ▪  Left Hand Piano Fingering

Reading Piano Music
 ▪  Sheet Music Symbol Library
 ▪  How to Read Piano Notation
 ▪  Memorize the Staff Notes
 ▪  Illustrated Piano Chords
 ▪  Musical Quizzes & Tests

Piano Care & Maintenance
 ▪  Best Piano Room Conditions
 ▪  How to Clean Your Piano
 ▪  Safely Whiten Your Piano Keys
 ▪  Signs of Piano Damage
 ▪  When To Tune Your Piano

Forming Piano Chords
 ▪  Chord Types & Their Symbols
 ▪  Essential Piano Chord Fingering
 ▪  Comparing Major & Minor Chords
 ▪  Diminished Chords & Dissonance

Getting Started on Keyboard Instruments
 ▪  Playing Piano vs. Electric Keyboard
 ▪  How to Sit at the Piano
 ▪  Buying a Used Piano



Learn About Enharmony:

  • The 6 Enharmonic Key Signatures
    If you’re familiar with the circle of fifths (or you just know your way around the key signatures) you may have noticed a few anomalies. Some keys – like B-sharp and F-flat major – are seemingly absent, while others go by two names
  • The Inefficient Keys
    The circle of fifths shows only the working scales. But, if we expand on its pattern, we can see that it’s actually more of an infinite spiral, so there’s no end to the possibilities of musical scales.



    Musical Keys & Key Signatures:

    • All About Key Signatures
      Everything you need to know about the accidentals & key signatures.

    • Use the interactive key signature locator to identify or double-check your key.

    • There are always two keys that relate to one another more than any other key. Find out what this means.
    • Comparing Major & Minor
      Major and minor are often described in terms of feelings or mood. The ear tends to perceive major and minor as having contrasting personalities; a contrast that is most obvious when the two are played back to back. Learn more about major and minor scales and keys.
    • Take the Key Signature Quiz
      Once you get to know more about this part of notation, test yourself on the accidentals and key signatures.