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A Simple Major Scale Primer…Shows You Easy Music Theory

The major scale primer will introduce you to music theory and the major scale. It is the basis for most of the music in the western hemisphere. Knowing how major scales are made will make the rest of your learning a snap.

The distance between two notes is called an interval. For right now we only need to know two of them; the minor second and the major second. The distance between a minor second is one note or 1 fret. The distance between a major second is two notes or 2 frets.

There are only two places in music where there is not a note between two notes. That is between B to C and E to F.

If you want to find out some more about intervals click on the link below.

Intervals

The Major Scale Layout

The major scale can be constructed by using these two intervals. For simplicity I will use 1 for a minor second interval and 2 for a major second interval. These can also be the number of frets apart.

Major Scale Primer
C Major Scale Construction

This is how all major scales are constructed.

The C Major scale example

If you look at it closely you will see it is made of two identically spaced sections 2 2 1 separated by a major second interval, 2 frets.

C to F is one section and G to C is the second one.

Major Scale Primer
Major Scale Chords

Major scale chords are made by selecting every other note in the scale. To show you better I will write the C scale out two times. Scales are also given numbers, these are the numbers you see after a chord symbol like C7.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

In the above table each scale letter has a number. There are some numbers which don’t get used except for teaching purposes.

Not all chords will have diagrams with the name so if you want to understand how to read guitar chord symbols like Cma7 or Dm9 then check out the page below.

How to Read Guitar Chords

The 8 and 15 are octaves of 1, they’re not used in chord names

The 10 is the octave of the 3, it’s not used in chord names

12 is the octave of 5 and isn’t used in chord names

14 is the octave of 7 and isn’t used in chord names

Major Scale Primer – The Basic Chords

As I said earlier we usually use every other note to make chords. Here is how you would make the chords for the C scale, these are only basic triads.

Roman Numeral

I

ii

iii

IV

V

vi

vii

If you want to check out some simple chord diagrams click here.

All Major Scales Use This Format

Diminished Chord – 7th note

Scale Notes also have Names
Major Scale Primer

Most of the time you will reference chords by their Roman Numeral. The major chords are upper case and the minor are lower case. Some of the names I put here so you can see where some chords get their names.

Some other chords get their names from the interval name they have.

The ones with two numbers are just that, those notes can be either. In chord construction octaves don’t matter that much it’s the note itself not what octave it’s in. The note has the same effect on the chord.

What does matter is the way it sounds. This is why it’s called music theory. Something might work for one song but not another.

Note Names, Numbers and Roman Numerals

D = 2 = 9 = Supertonic = major 2nd = ii

E = 3 = Mediant = major third = iii

F = 4 = 11 = Sub-dominant = IV

A = 6 = 13 = Submediant = Major 6th = vi

B = 7 = Leading tone = Major 7th = vii

This info is in case your reading something about music theory you’ll have a rough idea of what they mean

My First Guitar Lesson Book

The first book I got when I started taking lessons in 1964 was Mel Bays Modern Guitar Method Volume One.

This book is still available today. I’m sure it’s changed some but the fact that it’s still out there getting people started playing guitar is amazing. That’s over 45 years.

Here’s a link to it in case you want to check it out.

Modern Guitar Method Volume One

I hope you found this page useful.