The C major scale - Theory

Martin Cohen
A free video tutorial from Martin Cohen
Teacher, musician and composer
4.6 instructor rating • 6 courses • 19,735 students

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19:01:20 of on-demand video • Updated October 2020

  • Complete beginners will be taken to an intermediate (or even higher) level of piano playing with a thorough understanding of music theory.
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English The easiest major scale is that of C. It consists of only white notes. It starts on C and it goes up to the next C one octave higher by playing all the white notes in ascending order. So let's have a look to how that looks on the keyboard. So, we start on C. I will take the middle C here, but I could have started with any C on the keyboard. Now, let's go up by playing only the white notes till we reach the next C. So, after C comes D, then E, then F G, A, B, and we're back on C, but one octave higher than the first C we played. The set of notes we just played, so from C to C one octave higher by playing all the white notes is called the scale of C major. We call C the root of the C major scale. We can of course also play the C major scale in descending order, so C, B, A, G, F, E, D and back on C. Let's look at the intervals between the consecutive notes in the C major scale. Starting on the middle C, we go to D, which is one whole tone. Then, from D to E again a whole tone. From E to F, a semi-tone. From F to G, a whole tone. From G to A, whole tone. From A to B, again a whole tone. And finally from B to C, a semitone. So, we see the next structure for the C major scale: 1 1 1/2 1 1 1 1/2. You can also write: whole tone, whole tone, halftone, whole tone, whole tone, whole tone, half tone. Now, this structure is the structure for all the major scales. It's the same; not only for C major. So it's very important to remember this structure, because we will use it to find all the other major scales.