Scales, in Western tonal music, are derived from ancient Greek modes. A scale is really just a predetermined set of intervals. Scales are the building blocks of music, including rock and blues. The major scale, also called the Ionian mode, comprises the following intervals: whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half. If you sit at the keyboard, choose a random starting note, and then use this intervallic formula, you will always play a major scale.
For example, the C major scale consists of the following notes: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. The interval between C and D is a whole step. The interval between D and E is a whole step. The interval between E and F is a half step. The interval between F and G is a whole step. The interval between G and A is a whole step. The interval between A and B is a whole step, and the interval between B and C is a half step.
As you read in Chapter 2, intervals are typically counted using scale degrees. The names of the seven scale degrees are outlined here:
First degree: tonic
Second degree: supertonic
Third degree: mediant
Fourth degree: subdominant
Fifth degree: dominant
Sixth degree: submediant
Seventh degree: subtonic (leading tone)
The ascending C major scale is shown in FIGURE 4-3. Whole steps, half steps, and scale degrees are also indicated.
FIGURE 4-3: Ascending C Major Scale
FIGURE 4-4 shows you the C major scale, plus all seven sharp keyed major scales. The scales are written for both hands in octaves. When you play this figure, be mindful of the key signatures. Remember, if a key contains sharps or flats, they must always be observed. Also, be sure to follow the fingering.
FIGURE 2-4: C Major and Sharp Key Major Scales
C Major (no sharps or flats)
As you play, your hands should be in perfect sync. Strive to create smooth melodic lines.
FIGURE 4-5 shows you all of the flat key major scales. Don't forget about proper technique when playing scales. Make sure your hands remain cupped as if holding a ball. If necessary, see Chapter 2 for a review of this important hand and finger position.
FIGURE 4-5: Flat Key Major Scales