Lessons > Scale Theory > The Major Scale

The Major Scale

In western music the most common scale is the major scale. It acts as a template from which all scales and chords are measured. The major scale is used to measure intervals, construct chords and explain chord relationships. If there is one scale you should learn it is the major scale.

The major scale has seven notes and seven intervals:

  T   T   S   T   T   T   S  
C   D   E   F   G   A   B   C

Scales repeat on a loop with 12 semitones (an octave) between each root note (starting note). In any scale the intervals remain the same. Below is the A major scale:

  T   T   S   T   T   T   S  
A   B   C#   D   E   F#   G#   A

The notes in the A major scale are different to that of the C major scale. However, the interval pattern still goes: tone tone semitone tone tone tone semitone. The intervals between degrees of the major scale are all given names. Below you'll see the C major scale:

C   D   E   F   G   A   B   C

The distance between the 1st and 3rd degrees of the major scale is four semitones (four frets on the guitar). This interval is called a major third (or third for short). The distance between the 1st and 5th degrees is seven semitones. This interval is called a perfect fifth (or fifth for short).