What Is A Major Scale
Scales are the building blocks of all music. Learning to play music is much like learning to play football. Football players not only practice playing the game but they also break the game up into small drills and exercises to better hone their skills. This is what scales are for a musician — a way to understand the building blocks to all music and hone in on individual skills that can be applied to other music pieces. You might have 300+ notes in a song, but all songs are essentially 7 notes constantly repeated in different ways. If you can learn the base 7 notes, then you can learn to play fast and effectively.
There are many different scales, but the type that is used most often is the Major Scale.
Major Scales start on any note then proceed in an ascending (going up) or a descending (going down) direction. We play 7 notes, often ending on the same note, only 8 notes (or an octave) higher.
We can start a Major Scale on any note, but it needs to follow a specific sound pattern to make it a Major Scale.
We measure notes in two ways. Whole steps, which are a large distance between the notes, and half steps, which are a very small distance between the notes.
If you're playing a stringed instrument, a half step means that your fingers are right next to each other but with a whole step, there is a large distance between the fingers.
The pattern for a Major Scale ascending is:
WHOLE STEP, WHOLE STEP, HALF STEP,
WHOLE STEP, WHOLE STEP, WHOLE STEP, HALF STEP.
Descending will be the same pattern going backwards:
HALF STEP, WHOLE STEP, WHOLE STEP,
WHOLE STEP, HALF STEP, WHOLE STEP, WHOLE STEP
The name of the scale determines what note you're going to start on. For example, if you are going to play the A Major Scale, you're going to start on A. If you're going to play the D Major Scale, you're going to start on D.
We will learn to read and understand key signatures later, but at the beginning of any piece of music, you have a set of symbols that looks like this: These symbols tell you what key your playing in and what finger pattern you need to follow.