Pop Music Theory
Lesson 9: Scales
This lesson explains
what a scale
is. You'll need to understand
scales to understand chords
Before taking this lesson, you should know:
is a particular sequence of pitch names
, arranged in
order from low to high. Here are some examples of scales and the pitches in
|B major scale:
|B natural minor scale:
|D♭ major scale:
Here are some important basic facts about the most common scales (some of
these things are not true of all
These common scales each contain 7 different pitches, numbered
A scale's numbered pitches are called the degrees of the scale. For
example, from the table above we can say that "the 3rd degree of the B major
scale is D♯".
A scale's starting pitch is called the tonic.
A scale's name is its tonic (its starting pitch, like B or
D♭) plus its scale type (like "major scale" or "natural
These common scales use each letter-name (A, B, C, D, E, F, G)
exactly once. What makes each scale different from the others
(besides which pitch it starts on) is the flat (♭) or sharp
(♯) (or neither) on each pitch.
For these common scales, the distance between each degree of the
scale is (usually) either a whole-step or half-step.
The thing that makes one scale type different from another is its
order of half-steps and whole-steps. For example, "for the major
scale scale type, is the distance from degree 3 to degree 4 a half-step
When you understand these basic facts about scales, then you can start
learning about the major scale
(the most "fundamental" scale type) in
Lesson 10: Major Scale 1-2-3
© 2018 Conrad Albrecht. All rights reserved.