Major Scales and Chords

Major Scales

A scale is a set of notes which sound melodic when played together. There is a scale starting at each piano key in an octave. There are seven white keys and five black keys in an octave making twelve scales altogether.

Scale of C Major

Octave 4 starts at C4 (Middle C) and ends at B4.

The base Major Scale starts at C4 and consists of all the white notes up to the C key of the next octave (C5). These are shown with red squares.

image of piano keyboard showing C major scale and chord

Steps and half steps

The interval between adjacent keys is called a HALF STEP. Thus the interval between C4 and C4# is a half step as is the interval between C4# and D4. The interval between C4 and D4 is therefore a WHOLE STEP due to the black key C4# in between them

There is a pattern of steps and half steps between the white keys -


C Major Chord

Major Chords are the first, third and fifth notes of a Major Scale played together. The notes C4, E4 and G4, from the C Major scale make up the C major Chord. These are shown by the circles numbered 1, 3 and 5.

Deriving the other Major Scales

The other major scales are derived by starting at the first key (The Tonic) and applying the step pattern to determine the rest of the keys, e.g for the C4# Major scale - Starting at C4# and applying the step pattern.

Scale of C# Major

image of piano keyboard showing C Sharp Major sclae and chords


The rest of the scales are determined by the same method. Starting at a key apply the step pattern to find the remaining keys for it's scale. There are total of twelve scales per octave i.e C,C#,D,D#,E,F,F#,G,G#,A,A# and B.

Major C# Chord

The first, third and fifth notes from the C Sharp Major Scale - C# , F4 and G4# make up the C# Major Chord. These are shown by the circles numbered 1, 3 and 5.

There is a Major Chord for every Major Scale, comprising the first, third and fifth notes


Two sets are shown. One labelled 'BASS' starting at C3 and one labelled 'TREBLE' starting at C4.

There is a set of scales and chords for each octave on a piano.