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Thread: learning the major scales

  1. #1
    Premium Member
    Join Date
    Jul 2010

    Default learning the major scales

    i was wondering, from your lesson earlier this week you said "it starts and ends with the major scales" you see I'm quite new to theory, and it does seem a little overwhelming.( to say the least) i am starting with c major.and for my own understanding all scales stem from the majors with slight differences flat 7th ect so once I've learned the major scales I'm on my way. is that it ? or am i way off

  2. #2
    Premium Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    New Brunswick, Canada


    Hi Tom,

    I don't know a ton of theory, but as I understand it, everything is derived from the major scales.

    The major scale can be found by using the formula Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Whole, Half. Most people start with the C major scale because there are no sharps or flats (C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C). Once you know the major scale you can apply formulas to that to figure out chords and scales.

    For example, the formula for a major chord is 1-3-5 so a C major chord is C-E-G. The formula for a major pentatonic scale is 1-2-3-5-6-1, so C major pentatonic is C-D-E-G-A-C.

    I've found the David Walliman's lessons on interval theory helpful.

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  3. #3
    Basic Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    Not to be obnoxious, but we have to remember that the major scale is a 'western' thing, whereas the pentatonic is found throughout the world. Plus there are a few scales that are not related to the major scale, such as the chromatic or the whole tone scale. So, although I get what Emil's saying, and he's not pointing you in the wrong direction, that's for sure, feel free to challenge him on his comments, I'd say.

    You don't need to know all the major scales to be 'on your way' - just what it the major scale is as above it is most often described as taking the pattern WWHWWWH.

    Generally, the scales are taught in 'groups' of the major scale, its relative minor, which starts 3 semitones below the major, (you'll discover modes quickly on this site - the major and natural minor scales are 'modes' of each other - never mind at the moment) and the pentatonic.

    Scales are also usually taught starting, as mentioned above, from C and then progressing up to the scale with the next smallest amounts of sharps or flats, so the order usually goes

    C - a
    G - e
    F - d
    Bb - g
    D -b
    A - f#
    Eb- c
    E - c#
    B - g#
    Db -bb

    If you actually know all the scales up to about 5#s and bs, plus all the other theory associated with them up to that level - and can apply it - you'll be in fairly small percentage of people who play music.

    I certainly can't tell you what to do, but in normal tuning the guitar is organized in 4th intervals up to the 2nd string, which is a major third from the 3rd string and then back to another 4th interval - that organization has a big impact on how to best learn the guitar.

    Theory is 'meta-knowledge' - so you have to make some judgements about is usefulness for you when learning the guitar.

  4. #4
    Premium Member prs-ron's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Philadelphia PA


    not to overload you, the answer to you question is yes, you are on the right track. some see all the scales as completely different while some see them as Major scale altered in some way.

  5. #5
    Premium Member
    Join Date
    Sep 2011


    I think all these answers will confuse you. I think you should follow the lessons of a teacher you've decided on in jam play. Most all of the beginner lessons start you on the minor pentatonic be cause it is widely used. Don't try looking for the one magical thing you think will make you a player. It takes time but you can learn it. You must practice what they teach you. Whatever instructor you choose, just go lesson by lesson till you got it.


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