What is a scale? | Easy Ear Training

What is a scale?

A scale is a collection of notes which are commonly used together, in order of pitch.

(C major scale ascending)

(A melodic minor descending)

The first example spanned one octave, while the second example continued on, repeating the notes for a second octave.

If you want to compose music, improvise, or write songs, you can choose a key and a corresponding scale, and then use notes from that scale for your tune (melody) and chords (harmony). It’s like your ‘palette’ of notes to choose from.

Major scales and minor scales are the most common types, and there is a major scale for every major key. Minor scales are slightly more complicated (they come in 3 flavours: melodic, harmonic and natural) but they correspond to the minor keys in a similar way.

Modes are a special type of scale where the notes are chosen to suit a key (like with major and minor scales), but then they are put in a different order (by starting the sequence from a different note).

Here are two modes which use the same notes as the C Major example above:

(D Dorian mode)

(E Phrygian mode)

Can you hear the different musical mood they create just by starting on a different note?

Learn more about scales
 

Similar questions answered on this page:

  • What is a mode?
  • What is a modal scale?
  • What’s the connection between scales and modes?
  • What’s the connection between scales and keys?

Posted in: Scales

Want to become more musical?

Musicality ChecklistWe can help!

Whether you want to sing in tune, play by ear, improvise, write your own songs, perform more confidently or just make faster progress, first you need to know where you're starting from.

The Musicality Checklist will quickly reveal your personal musicality profile and how you can improve your natural musicianship.

Available FREE today!

Get the Checklist

Ear Training at Musical U

Learn More at Musical U

Musical U is the all-in-one training website which helps you to become more musical in an easy, fun and personalised way.

→ Learn More

Have a comment about this post? We'd love to hear it!
Come join the conversation on our Facebook page.

Enjoyed this post? Please share it with a friend:

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This