Music theory is an essential part of learning how to play an instrument, especially if you want to understand the structure of the music you are playing. Scales, in particular, are a fundamental concept in music theory.
A scale is simply a series of notes played in a specific order, usually starting and ending on the same note. In this article, we will explore how to do scales in music theory.
What is a Scale?
A scale is a set of musical notes arranged in ascending or descending order according to pitch. The most commonly used scales are seven-note scales, which include the major and minor scales. There are also pentatonic scales (five-note scales) and chromatic scales (12-note scales).
The major scale is the most commonly used scale in Western music. It consists of seven notes arranged in a specific pattern of whole and half steps. The pattern for a major scale is: whole-whole-half-whole-whole-whole-half.
To play a C major scale on the piano, start on C and play the following sequence: C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C. On the guitar, you can play a C major scale by starting on the third fret of the A string and playing this sequence: A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A.
The minor scale is another important scale in music theory. Like the major scale, it consists of seven notes arranged in a specific pattern of whole and half steps. However, there are three different types of minor scales: natural minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor.
Natural Minor Scale
The natural minor scale follows this pattern: whole-half-whole-whole-half-whole-whole. To play an A natural minor scale on the piano, start on A and play the following sequence: A-B-C-D-E-F-G-A. On the guitar, you can play an A natural minor scale by starting on the fifth fret of the low E string and playing this sequence: E-F-G-A-B-C-D-E.
Harmonic Minor Scale
The harmonic minor scale follows this pattern: whole-half-whole-whole-half-augmented second-half. To play an A harmonic minor scale on the piano, start on A and play the following sequence: A-B-C-D-E-F-G#-A. On the guitar, you can play an A harmonic minor scale by starting on the fifth fret of the low E string and playing this sequence: E-F-G-A-B-C-D#-E.
- Whole-Half-Whole-Whole-Half-Augmented Second-Half
Melodic Minor Scale
The melodic minor scale is slightly different when played ascending and descending. When played ascending, it follows this pattern: whole-half-whole-whole-whole-whole-half.
When played descending, it usually follows the pattern of the natural minor scale. To play an A melodic minor scale on the piano, start on A and play this ascending sequence: A-B-C-D-E-F#-G#-A, then descend with this sequence: G-Natural-F-Natural-E-D-C-B-A. On guitar, you can start with 5th fret of low E string to form a melodic scale in ‘A’.
- A-B-C-D-E-F#-G#-A (Ascending)
- G-Natural-F-Natural-E-D-C-B-A (Descending)
- Whole-Half-Whole-Whole-Whole-Whole-Half (Ascending)
Learning scales is an essential part of music theory. It enables you to understand the structure of music and improves your ability to play an instrument.
With practice, you can master different types of scales and use them to create beautiful melodies. Remember that repetition is key when it comes to learning scales, so don’t be afraid to play them over and over again until they become second nature.