Learning the scales

author: Sicking date: 11/06/2008 category: scales
rating: 8 / votes: 22 
This lesson will explain how the origin of the basic scale came to be and how other scales were "created" using the basic scales. For this lesson I will be using intervals instead of the "Whole Steps"/"Half steps" or "Tones"/"Semi-Tones".

The Root Of All Scales!

When it comes to scales, there is a particular scale which is a "role model" to other scales and it is vital, as this will form other scale if its well manipulated. This particular scale is The major scale. With this scale we can build other scales by varying in the intervals by either flattening them, sharping, or even removing one or more! But there is still a question...How do we build a major scale?

Building A Major Scale (Ionian)

A Major scale has 7 Notes (8th is the octave) and to build a Major scale we need to use the help of the circle of fifths which will aid us and tells us which or how many flats or sharps the major scale has.
                  The circle of fifth:

                           #0
                     b1    C    #1
                      F         G
                  b2               #2
                  Bb               D
                 b3                 #3     
                 Eb                 A       
                  b4               #4
                  Ab               E
                     b5         #5
                     Db         B
                           F#
                           #6
(Note:I'm sorry if it looks very primitive but I put in a lot of effort to make it look easy to read more circle shaped) As you can see the circle tell us that C major has no sharps or flats that means it a natural while G Major has 1 sharp which is The F#, the D Major has 2 sharps which is the F# and C# and so on...Using this info we can now build a major scale. Example 1:
The C major scale

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 [8]
C D E F G A B  C
Example 2:
The A major scale

1 2 3  4  5 6  7 [8]
A B C# D# E F# G  A
Example 3:
The D major scale

1 2 3  4 5 6 7  [8]
D E F# G A B C#  D
But wait we have a small problem...In theory we can only have 1 flat or sharp of the same key? so what will we do for the F# major? The answer is simple we have to "bend" the rules for a bit and name the octave as F instead of F#. So The F# major looks like this: Example 4:
The F# major

1  2  3  4 5  6  7 [8]
F# G# A# B C# D# E# F
You can also use these methods to help you build the major scales:
Tone, Tone, Semi-Tone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semi-Tone (T T S T T T S)

                         or

Whole Step, Whole Step, Half Step, Whole Step, Whole Step, Whole Step, Half Step (W W H W W W H)

Building Basic Scales

Now that we know how to build a major scale we can use it to build other scales and this is where the fun part begins. Step 1: learn the formula! Each and every scale has it's unique formula to follow if you learn that you have half of the job done. Example 1: Natural Minor scale (Aeolian) formula = 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 [8] Step 2: Comparing the formula! Ok to understand what you are doing you must not only learn the formula but also to compare them with the major scale.
Major scale          vs        Natural Minor scale
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 [8]              1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 [8]
Now we learned that to make a Natural minor scale we need to use the major scale but flatten the 3rd, 6th and 7th note! Step 3: Respect their Keys please! Ok the next job is to keep in mind that you need to use the aproppriate scale to build a scale which means, to build a C Natural Minor scale you need to use a C Major scale, you CANNOT use a C Major scale to build D Natural Minor Scale or any other Natural Minor scale. So in conclusion use their respectable keys.

3 Examples Of Each Basic Scale

Natural Minor (Aeolia): 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 A Natural Minor
1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 [8]
A B C  D E F  G   A
B Natural Minor
1 2  b3 4 5  b6 b7 [8]
B C# D  E F# G  A   B
C Natural Minor
1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 [8]
C D Eb F G Ab Bb  C
Major Pentatonic: 1 2 3 5 6 A Major Pentatonic
1 2 3  5 6 [8]
A B C# E F# A
B Major Pentatonic
1 2  3 5  6 [8]
B C# D F# G  B
C Major Pentatonic
1 2 3 5 6 [8]
C D E G A  C
Minor Pentatonic: 1 b3 4 5 b7 A Minor Pentatonic
1 b3 4 5 b7 [8]
A C  D E G   A
B Minor Pentatonic
1 b3 4 5  b7 [8]
B D  E F# A   B
C Minor Pentatonic
1 b3 4 5 b7 [8]
C Eb F G Bb  C
Blues: 1 b3 4 b5 5 b7 A Blues
1 b3 4 b5 5 b7 [8]
A C  D Eb E G   A
B Blues
1 b3 4 b5 5  b7 [8]
B D  E F  F# A   B
C Blues
1 b3 4 b5 5 b7 [8]
C Eb F Gb G Bb  C
Those are pretty much the basic scales.

On The Road To Mode

This isn't hard, as it follows the same routine as the basic one, So I will refresh you on the steps then move on to the examples. Step 1: learn the formula! Step 2: Comparing the formula! Step 3: Respect their Keys please!

Modes Examples

Phrygian: 1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 A Phrygian Mode
1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 [8]
A Bb C  D E F  G   A
B Phrygian Mode
1 b2 b3 4 5  b6 b7 [8]
B C  D  E F# G  A   B
C Phrygian Mode
1 b2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 [8]
C Db Eb F G Ab Bb  C
Dorian: 1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 A Dorian Mode
1 2 b3 4 5 6  b7 [8]
A B C  D E F# G   A
B Dorian Mode
1 2  b3 4 5  6  b7 [8]
B C# D  E F# G# A   B
C Dorian Mode
1 2 b3 4 5 6 b7 [8]
C D Eb F G A Bb  C
Lydian: 1 2 3 #4 5 6 7 A Lydian Mode
1 2 3  #4 5 6  7 [8]
A B C# D# E F# G# A
B Lydian Mode
1 2  3  #4 5  6  7 [8]
B C# D# E# F# G# A# B
C Lydian Mode
1 2 3 #4 5 6 7 [8]
C D E F# G A B  C
Mixolydian: 1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 A Mixolydian Mode
1 2 3  4 5 6  b7 [8]
A B C# D E F# G   A
B Mixolydian Mode
1 2  3  4 5  6  b7 [8]
B C# D# E F# G# A   B
C Mixolydian Mode
1 2 3 4 5 6 b7 [8]
C D E F G A Bb  C
Locrian: 1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 A Locrian Mode
1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 [8]
A Bb C  D Eb F  G   A
B Locrian Mode
1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 [8]
B C  D  E F  G  A   B
C Locrian Mode
1 b2 b3 4 b5 b6 b7 [8]
C Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb  C
Basically thats all to it. Once you get the basic straight the rest is all easy! ihope you guys enjoy the lesson asthis is my first time doing a lesson so enjoy. P.S: I tried to be as accurate as possible in the information. And this is the way I learned or at least thats how I grasped to it...
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