The Major and Minor Scale (2)

In Theory Lesson #2 we discussed how to create scales using interval patterns. Here’s a quick reminder of the patterns:

Major Scales:
W – W – H – W – W – W – H

Minor Scales:
W – H – W – W – H – W – W

In this formula, ‘W’ stands for ‘whole step’ and ‘H’ stands for ‘half step’.
Another way to build major and minor scales, without using the interval pattern, is by looking at the number of sharps and flats in each key. These can be found in the innermost circle of the Wheel of Fifths.

The Wheel of Fifths

In the image, we see that the key of C major has no sharps or flats. Therefore, the notes in the C major scale are the following: ‘C – D – E – F – G – A – B’. There are no accidentals.
This scale is called a diatonic scale – it contains seven notes that are found naturally in the parent key.

The G major scale, however, has one sharpened note. The order in which sharps are added when creating scales is ‘F – C – G – D – A – E – B’. Therefore, the one note that is sharpened in the G major scale is F. Thus, the G major scale contains the notes ‘G – A – B – C – D – E – F#’.

Order of adding sharps:
F – C – G – D – A – E – B

By looking at the Wheel of Fifths, we see that the scale of F major has one flattened note. The order in which flats are added is ‘B – E – A – D – G – C – F’. Thus, the F major scale consists of the notes ‘F – G – A – Bb – C – D – E’.

Order of adding flats:
B – E – A – D – G – C – F

Overview for keys with sharps:

Overview for keys with flats:

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments below. And if you are ready to deepen your understanding of music theory – visit our shop for the Wheel of Fifths Songwriting Tool.

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