Table of Contents
Part1: The Major Scale Guitar
Part 1: The Major Scale
Welcome to our brand new Guide to Music Theory! Each week, we’ll supply you with essential information on music theory and delivery it in a way that is easily comprehensible. Whatever your level and whatever questions you may have, we can help.
What is a chord? What are the most important scales? What is a major scale Guitar? How do they work, what are their names and what do we need them for? Why can’t Eb major be called D# major? Why is there an F minor chord in a song that is in the key of C? What is a degree, what do these roman numbers like I IV V mean? What is a tonic, a subdominant, a dominant chord? We will answer all of these questions and more.
First of all: what is a scale?
A scale is a number of ascending pitches. It usually ends on the same note where it started. Most scales consist of seven different pitches.
Play this Major Scale Guitar, just using the G String:
And back down:
This is the G Major scale.
You can call it Ionian too, but if you just say “Major” everyone will assume you mean G Major because it’s so common.
Why is it called G Major?
“G” because G is the note where the scale starts and ends.
If you haven’t seen sharps (#) before, please don’t worry. We’ll explain them in another blog post. We decided to display treble clef notation next to TAB so you get used to it. You don’t have to pay close attention to it, but we did this because many great guitar players complain that they can’t read treble clef well enough.
Back to the major scale: If you do the same thing on the D string it is the same scale but called “D” Major, or D Ionian:
It has seven notes that move up in whole tones (two frets) and half tones (one fret). The last note is the same as the first, so we don’t count it.
Take note that between the first and second note there is a whole tone (two frets), followed by another whole tone, then a half tone (one fret) between third and fourth note, then another 3 whole tones and finally a half tone again.
Let’s resume this using “WT” (for whole tone) and “HT” (for half tone):
WT – WT – HT – WT – WT – WT – HT
This pattern will always be the same for any Ionian major scale, no matter which note you start.
So A major would be:
This of course means that you can start any scale on any note, not only on an open string.
Now Let’s Try C major:
Finally, just keep this in mind:
The Major (or Ionian) scale is like the great grandfather to most other scales and to most chords of its key. For example, all chords closely related to G are taken from the G Ionian scale, just as all the scales that belong to these chords are. All chords closely related to C and their corresponding scales are taken from the C Ionian scale and so on. We will soon get back to this.
In the next post, we will introduce you to “The 12 Most Common Intervals“.