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Musical Scales

A scale is a set of pitches (or a group of notes) that are arranged and played by increasing pitch (ascending) or decreasing pitch (descending) order.

Musical Scales and Emotions

There are many different types of musical scales. The major scales and the minor scales are the two most commonly used musical scales. Different scales may evoke certain emotions or moods. For example, the major scales feel happy and bright. Music in the major keys have an excited and cheerful sound. However, the minor scales feel sad and have a dark and serious atmosphere.

Piano chords are formed from musical scales. It’s ideal that you understand how to construct major and minor scales before learning to build piano chords. We will discuss more about piano chords, triads and seventh chords.

Below are some of the less common musical scales on piano:

The Blues Scales

The blues scale on piano consists of six notes: The root, flat 3rd, 4th, flat 5th, 5th and flat 7th notes of the major scale.

There are twelve blues scales: C, C♯, D, E♭, E, F, F♯, G, A♭, A, B♭, B:

C blues scale: C – E♭ – F – G♭ – G – B♭ – C
C♯ blues scale: C♯ – E – F♯ – G – G♯ – B – C♯
D blues scale: D – F – G – A♭- A – C – D
E♭ blues scale: E♭- G♭- A♭- A – B♭- D♭- E♭
E blues scale: E – G – A – B♭- B – D – E
F blues scale: F – A♭ – B♭ – B – C – E♭- F
F♯ blues scale: F♯ – A – B – C – C♯ – E – F♯
G blues scale: G – B♭- C – D♭- D – F – G
A♭ blues scale: A♭ – B – D♭- D – E♭- G♭- A♭
A blues scale: A – C – D – E♭- E – G – A
B♭ blues scale: B♭- D♭- E♭- E – F – A♭- B♭
B blues scale: B – D – E – F – F♯ – A – B

The Pentatonic Scales

The pentatonic scale has the least number of notes, it has only five notes per octave.

The major pentatonic scale: The root, 2nd, 3rd, 5th and 6th notes of the major scale. (The 4th and 7th notes are removed.)

The major pentatonic scale formula: W – W – W+H – W – W+H

There are twelve major pentatonic scales: C, C♯, D, E♭, E, F, F♯, G, A♭, A, B♭, B:

C major pentatonic scale: C – D – E  – G – A  – C
C♯ major pentatonic scale: C♯ – D♯ – E♯  – G♯ – A♯ – C♯
D major pentatonic scale: D – E – F♯  – A – B  – D
E♭ major pentatonic scale: E♭ – F – G – B♭ – C – E♭
E major pentatonic scale: E – F♯ – G♯ – B – C♯  – E
F major pentatonic scale: F – G – A – C – D – F
F♯ major pentatonic scale: F♯ – G♯ – A♯ – C♯ – D♯  – F♯
G major pentatonic scale: G – A – B  – D – E  – G
A♭ major pentatonic scale: A♭ – B♭ – C  – E♭ – F – A♭
A major pentatonic scale: A – B – C♯  – E – F♯ – A
B♭ major pentatonic scale: B♭ – C – D  – F – G – B♭
B major pentatonic scale: B – C♯ – D♯ – F♯  – G♯  – B

The minor pentatonic scale: The root, flat 3rd, 4th, 5th and flat 7th notes of the major scale. (The blues scale is the minor pentatonic plus the flat 5th.)

The minor pentatonic scale formula: W+H – W – W – W+H – W

There are twelve minor pentatonic scales: C, C♯, D, E♭, E, F, F♯, G, A♭, A, B♭, B:

C minor pentatonic scale: C – E♭ – F  – G – B♭ – C
C♯ minor pentatonic scale: C♯ – E – F♯ – G♯ – B – C♯
D minor pentatonic scale: D – F – G – A – C – D
E♭ minor pentatonic scale: E♭- G♭- A♭ – B♭- D♭- E♭
E minor pentatonic scale: E – G – A – B – D – E
F minor pentatonic scale: F – A♭ – B♭ – C – E♭- F
F♯ minor pentatonic scale: F♯ – A – B – C♯ – E – F♯
G minor pentatonic scale: G – B♭- C – D – F – G
A♭ minor pentatonic scale: A♭ – B – D♭ – E♭- G♭- A♭
A minor pentatonic scale: A – C – D – E – G – A
B♭ minor pentatonic scale: B♭- D♭- E♭ – F – A♭- B♭
B minor pentatonic scale: B – D – E – F♯ – A – B

The Chromatic Scale

The chromatic scale is made up twelve notes, each note is a half step away from the other note.

The chromatic scale formula: H – H – H – H – H – H – H – H – H – H – H – H

Whole Tone Scale

The whole tone scale has six notes. It is often used in romantic and jazz music.

The whole tone scale formula: W – W – W – W – W – W

There are only 2 whole tone scales: C, D:

C whole tone scale: C – D – E – F♯ – G♯ – A♯
D whole tone scale: D♭ – E♭ – F – G – A – B

piano-music-theoryMusic Theory BasicsMusic Theory Lessonsblue scale,chromatic scale,major scale,minor scale,pentatonic scales,whole tone scaleMusical Scales A scale is a set of pitches (or a group of notes) that are arranged and played by increasing pitch (ascending) or decreasing pitch (descending) order. Musical Scales and Emotions There are many different types of musical scales. The major scales and the minor scales are the two most commonly...Piano Music Theory Lessons for Beginners