Basic Scales

Here are examples of the four most important scales in use, the major scale and three minor scales. The major scale is used the most, it consists of eight steps one or two half-steps apart. Each "step" from the beginning (also called the root or the tonic) is expressed by a number. The next (or second) step up from the root is called the second, the third step is called the third, etc. The eighth step, or octave, is really like going back to the beginning.

The Natural Minor scale is considered relative to its major scale because they share the same notes. The sharps and flats used are the same, but the minor scale starts three half-steps lower than its relative major. So the minor scale relative to C major is A minor. The notes used are the same as C but the scale starts and ends on A.

The Harmonic Minor scale is similar to the Natural Minor, but the 7th step is sharped, or raised a half step. This leads in nicely to the root.

The Melodic Minor scale goes a bit further, its sixth and seventh steps are raised when going up but not when going down. This accentuates the direction in which the line is moving.

Here we have all four scales on one page, with separate soundfiles for each.

First, Select the Sheet Music for Your Instrument,

then, get the soundfile:

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