Understanding Music Theory – Lesson 25 – Major Scales

Scales are the foundation of most music. A scale is a pattern of intervals that repeat every octave that is built on a tonic pitch.

A tonic pitch is the first pitch of a scale. The tonic pitch is also the letter name of the scale.

Major scales are built from a combination of half steps and whole steps.

A half step is the smallest distance between two pitches, this also referred to sometimes as a minor second.

A whole step is the distance of two halfsteps. A whole step will sometimes be referred to as a major second.

To create any major scale you must begin on a tonic pitch and create the following interval pattern:


This pattern is two whole steps (W) followed by a half step (H) then three wholsteps and one last half step.

In the video above the example is the C major scale. Begin with the tonic pitch C then go up the scale in the interval pattern of W W H W W W H. That will produce the notes C D E F G A B C.

Here is that C major scale in standard notation:

Where to go next:

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    This entry was posted in C Major Scale, Half step, Major Scales, Scales, Tonic, Whole Step. Bookmark the permalink.
    • Tapan Mukerji

      Absolutely brialliant!!!

      Thank you.

      • leonharrell

        Thanks for your comment! I’m glad you liked it.

        -Leon Harrell