Hey guys, I have a problem regarding counting the steps of scales.

Let's say the formula for a A Major scale is

A B C# D E F# G# A
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

How do I count from it? What does 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 represent? I know about the Whole-Whole-Half-Whole-Whole-Whole-Half formular but I hope to understand what the 1.....8 is all about

Another question is that

Let's say I have an E Natural Minor scale with the formula

1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8
E F# G A B C D E

How do I start counting it after F#? Do I count normally until "3" then flatten it, then from the flattened 3rd, I count to 4 or do I go back to the normal 3 and count to 4?

Sorry if you do not understand what I'm saying. Thanks for the help in advance
Last edited by ThEgAmE93 at Aug 23, 2011,
1 would be the root so in your example of A major 1 would be the A. You may have heard of chords being made up of 1sts 3rds and 5ths or the 1, 3, and5 so an a major chord would be made up of A, C#, and E. n your next example you would just count it as a flatten third and call the a the fourth. If people know your talking e minor you wouldnt even really have to say the flatten third you would just call it the third and as long as people know your talking about the e minor then they would know what you mean
I wrote a large post, but realised that I couldn't convey what I was trying to say in a way that would be easy for somebody to understand.

What you need to understand is intervals, becuase that is what the numbers represent. In my sig there is a link to the Crusades. There is a lesson on intervals there so have a look and you can ask any questions here.
Sorry people, I made a mistake. I wanted to ask "to count to 4 from the E nature minor scale, do I count from the b3 or do I go back to the normal 3rd and count to 4 from there?"
What? If someone gives you a formula for the natural minor TSTTSTT, then you just continue from the note you're on. The numbers indicate set intervals above the tonic - 4 is always a perfect 4th above the tonic.
Quote by Jesse Clarkson
What? If someone gives you a formula for the natural minor TSTTSTT, then you just continue from the note you're on. The numbers indicate set intervals above the tonic - 4 is always a perfect 4th above the tonic.

Sorry man, I'm crap at music theory. Can you explain it in layman terms? Thanks alot.
Quote by Myshadow46_2
What you need to understand is intervals, becuase that is what the numbers represent.

This is it. Learn yer major 2nds and augmented 5ths, etc.

An unaltered number is a major or perfect interval, flattened numbers are minor or diminished, sharpened numbers are augmented.
Nothing that is worthwhile in life will ever come easy.
musictheory.net

I agree with soviet, until you know how to name intervals, there's no real point learning any other theory. The above is a good website, and it starts from the very beginning.
Quote by Jesse Clarkson
musictheory.net

I agree with soviet, until you know how to name intervals, there's no real point learning any other theory. The above is a good website, and it starts from the very beginning.

great website here. leaf thought the lessons

to answer your original question look up "scale degrees" thats what those numbers are. They use numbers cause its easier then calling them by name (tonic =1, super tonic=2, median=3, sub dominant=4, ect

your second question do u count up from the # or do u go back to the natural note (natural is the note without any accidental added i.e. sharps and flats.) you DO count up from the sharp or whatever the previous note in the scale is.
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Last edited by ThatDarnDavid at Aug 23, 2011,
So you mean to count from the 4th, I continue from where I was from the b3? And how do you know if your b3 is a G or a _ ?
Clearly you didn't look at the website.

A b3 indicates the interval of a minor 3rd. A minor 3rd is 3 semitones above the tonic. The tonic is the tonal centre, in C major the tonic is C, in G minor it is G, etc.

Let's take C major for simplicity.

``````C  D  E  F  G  A  B
1  2  3  4  5  6  7``````
Now let's make it a C minor scale.
``````C  D  Eb F  G  Ab Bb
1  2  b3 4  5  b6 b7``````

Compare the two. See where I'm going with this?
the 1234567 thing is a reference that compares the notes of a scale to those of the major scale. 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7 (8) means you have to flatten the 3th and 6th note of the major scale. thats the minor harmonic scale. 1 and 8 is the root note (tonic)
I looked. But I did not understand. You made it much clearer now. Thank you
Quote by Jesse Clarkson
Clearly you didn't look at the website.

A b3 indicates the interval of a minor 3rd. A minor 3rd is 3 semitones above the tonic. The tonic is the tonal centre, in C major the tonic is C, in G minor it is G, etc.

Let's take C major for simplicity.

``C  D  E  F  G  A  B1  2  3  4  5  6  7``
Now let's make it a C minor scale.
``C  D  Eb F  G  Ab Bb1  2  b3 4  5  b6 b7``

Compare the two. See where I'm going with this?

It seem to me that to count the next note, I move from a flat back to the original position and count from there again.

If I was to start counting from the flattened, Wouldn't I get everything a half step backwards?
I had this thinking because I was following the "Whole half step" thing. Because if I applied the Whole Whole half thing on major and I changed to the formula of the minor, it would be awkward to apply the major way of counting onto a minor scale. Sorry if I confused you.

So allow me to clarify, If my original position for a 3 is an E, then after flattening it, it becomes an Eb, I continue counting from the E right? I don't know about you guys but, it seems awkward to me lol !
Hmm, this is confusing. It's torturing my mind. So I don't always follow the forumla? Because if I do, I'll probably end up half step behind. What should I do then? Is there any other way to learn this?
The formula for the major scale is TTSTTTS.

The formula for the natural minor is TSTTSTT.

Let's apply the formula for the major scale to A.
A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A

Now, when people refer to the numbers you mentioned in your post, they're typically referring to the degrees of the major scale. So 1 in A major is A, 5 is E. If we applied this to C major, 1 would be C, and 5 would be G (C D E F G). Is this clear so far?

Now if we look at the A minor scale, it contains the notes A B C D E F G A. This follows the formula T S T T S T T. If you compare it to the A major scale above, you'll notice the only difference is the minor has a b3, b6 and b7. This means in relation to the major scale it can be described as 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7.

Does this make sense now?

Edit: Thanks Griff.
Last edited by Jesse Clarkson at Aug 25, 2011,
Quote by Jesse Clarkson
The formula for the major scale is TTSTTTS.

Fixed
Did you get your SATB stuff sorted?
So you mean if there's a flat, All I have to do is just flatten those I have to flatten and for the rest, they remain the same?
Yes.

Maybe this way of thinking about it will help.

For each diatonic scale, you have ONE of each letter. (This is why the same note can have two names, depending on what role it's playing. If you have an F-natural, for example, then the note one half-step up has to be Gb, not F# - because you already have an F).

When you count the numbers, all of the flats are relative to the major scale.

So 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 b7 8 means that 3, 6, and 7 are flat compared to their major scale counterparts.

Think of it like when you're reading music. If you put an accidental on one note in a music scale, it doesn't apply to any other notes - just that one note!

The numbers just refer to the scale degrees. Think of them all as relative to the tonic rather than relative to the previous scale degree - so changing one scale degree doesn't necessarily change any other scale degrees.
Would it be wrong to have more than 1 of the same letter? Like can I have an F# and a Fb together? Thanks Spur for the explaining. It's more clearer now. Phew, I never knew theory is so complicated.
Quote by ThEgAmE93
Would it be wrong to have more than 1 of the same letter? Like can I have an F# and a Fb together? Thanks Spur for the explaining. It's more clearer now. Phew, I never knew theory is so complicated.

There are chromatic runs in music which used multiple notes of the same letter (eg, if I play F#-G-G#-A-A#-B there's no way not to have two Gs and two As in there) but in any diatonic scale, you only have one of each.
Would it be wrong musically or is it just not preferred to write it that way?
Musically it doesn't make any difference if you play a G# or an Ab. It's the same note (so long as we're equally-tempered, that is).

But ...

What Jesse said. As you begin to understand more you'll get the logic of it. I've had that experience a lot with music - there's something that seems redundant, or like there's a simpler way, and then when you learn a bit more it totally makes sense.
I see. Would it be because it would confuse anybody who's reading the score?
I see. Hmm, theory is sure confusing. Thanks for the help, everybody