Music Theory 101: Major Scales | Jason Rivera | Skillshare

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Music Theory 101: Major Scales

teacher avatar Jason Rivera, Composer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

3 Lessons (16m)
    • 1. Introduction

      1:36
    • 2. Major Scales

      9:21
    • 3. Class Assignment

      5:22
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About This Class

Gain an understanding of how to build major scales with composer Jason Rivera. The class features detailed explanations and demonstrations on the piano. You will learn techniques and concepts that can be applied to writing music in practically any genre.

The main topics covered in this class are:

  1. Half steps and whole steps
  2. The major scale pattern
  3. How to build a major scale in any key

For your class assignment you will complete a short series of written exercises designed to help solidify your new knowledge of major scales.

This class is designed for beginners, however it assumes that you are familiar with the Musical Alphabet and how to read the Treble Clef.

The class is for musicians, songwriters and composers who want to expand their knowledge of music theory so that they can master their craft.

Learning the major scale is key to learning how to write melodies. Also with this information you can then understand how to build intervals and chords.

By the end of this class you will have a solid understanding of major scales and how to build them and use them in your own music performance and writing.

If you want to continue your music education I have many other courses available including classes on songwriting, scales, melodies, and writing chord progressions. I invite you to check those other classes out.

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Jason Rivera

Composer

Teacher

Hi!

I'm Jason Rivera. I compose music and teach from my studio in Los Angeles, CA. You can check out my music on my website and you can join my email list for updates.


“Excellent class!!! He made concepts that have been difficult to understand previously so clear and concise. Really got a lot out of this class. This is foundational to becoming a good composer. Can't wait to try doing the assignments!!!”

- Mona Lisa P, Skillshare Student


“Things I have been confused about for years finally made sense to me through Jason's instructions. I can't thank you enough, Jason.”

- Ronja B, Skillshare Student


“Great work, with engaging visuals and great audio and video qua... See full profile

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Transcripts

1. Introduction: I'm Jason Rivera, a composer and multi instrumentalist. I have written and played on many professional recordings of composed music for and conducted live orchestras toward the U. S. As a performer, and I worked as a producer on music projects. It's really master playing and writing music. We need to have a working understanding music theory. This is what my music theory one a one Siris, of course, is is all about. And these classes I covered the essential tools that you need to be able to better express yourself as a musician and songwriter or composer. In this class, we're going to cover the subject of major scales. My goal with this class is to provide you with the basics of understanding and then building major scales. Specifically, we will cover half steps and whole steps, the major scale pattern and how to build a major scale in any key. This class is designed for beginners. However, it assumes that you're familiar with the musical alphabet and how to read the trouble clef the classes for musicians, songwriters and composers who want to expand their knowledge of music theory so that they could master their craft. Learning the major scale is key to learning how to write melodies. Also, with this information, you can then understand how to build intervals and chords. By the end of the class, you will have a solid understanding of major scales on how to build them and use them in your own music, performance and writing. Okay, let's get started with our class. 2. Major Scales: most popular music is tonal, meaning that the majority of the melodies and harmonies and a piece of music revolve around one musical pitch. This pitch is called the Tonic when you arrange a group of pitches and steps around the tonic, this is called a scale, the most popular of all scales. The scale that forms the basis of most melodies is the major scale. The pattern for the major skill is made up of a series of whole steps and half steps. So what is 1/2 stab? Well, as you can see in this chart, the entire piano keyboard is made up of half steps. Let's check out some examples at the piano from sea to the very next. Key to the right is 1/2 step. In other words, there's no note in between those two notes. For those of you that love film music, I'm sure that sounds very familiar. Or from sea to the very next gates of the left eye's 1/2 step. Another example from G, the very next key to the right eyes, 1/2 step or a So the very next key to the left a za have step Ah, whole step is comprised of 2/2 steps, for example, from C T is 2/2 steps. So from C to D eyes a whole step or from after G, there are 2/2 steps. Eso from F G is a whole step. There's a note in between F and G on a piano. Whole steps can be made from Blackie toe white key, for example, a sharp to see or ah, white key to a blackie, for example, from B two c sharp or ah Blackie to a Blackie, for example, from G Sharp. A sharp and each of those examples one KIIS skipped in between, which makes it a whole step. Now that we understand half steps in whole steps, we can talk about how major scales are built. The major scale is built of two whole steps, 1/2 step, three whole steps and 1/2 step. This particular major scale pattern starts on the notes, see, so it's the C major scale. Take note that the half steps occur between the third and fourth degrees and the seventh and eight degrees of the scale. Let's look at the C major scale at the piano in the C major scale. There are half steps between the notes E and F on B and C also notice that there are no black. He's in the C major scale. Major scales can start on any note, but muscle was adhere to the major scale pattern off whole steps and half steps that we just looked at. So the major scale can start on any tonic note and could be transposed to any key. And we'll still have the same basic sound to it. If a major scale starts on the note other than see, you'll have to modify the notes so that they conform to the major scale pattern. For example, let's build a major scale on the note G. So we have a whole step. Then another whole step. Been 1/2 step than a whole step on another whole step. Been another whole step and then 1/2 step. No, you'll notice there that I played a black he when I got to the seventh note. Instead of playing the note F, I raised it 1/2 step to have sharp. When you sharpen a note, you raised it 1/2 step higher. Why did I do that well, the major scale pattern dictates that there has to be a whole step between the sixth and seven scale degrees and 1/2 step between the seventh degree and the eighth scale degree. If we start the scale on the note G, the six scale degree is he 23456 and the seven scale degree is F. But from e toe have eyes 1/2 step. So in order to keep the major scale pattern, I have to raise the seventh degree by half step. So if I make F in F sharp now, I have a whole step between the sixth and seventh scale degrees when I raised the after half sharp. It also shortens the distance between F and G from a whole step to 1/2 stub. So now there is 1/2 step between F sharp and G, our seventh and eighth degrees of the major skill, and now we have a G major scale. So now you know that the G major scale must always contain an F sharp. If we look at this G major scale on a treble clef, what I've done is added a sharp symbol in front of the note f remember, a sharp is a symbol that indicates a notice to be played 1/2 step higher. Now I'm gonna build a major scale starting on another note f So we have a whole step thin, Another whole step and 1/2 step, whole step and another whole step. Then another whole step and then 1/2 step. Now you noticed this time I played a black he when I got to the fourth scale degree. Instead of playing the note B, I played a B flat. A flat symbol indicates that a notice to be played 1/2 step lower. So why did I flatten that be while the major scale pattern dictates that there has to be 1/2 step between the third and fourth scale degrees and a whole step between the fourth and fifth scale degrees if we start the scale on the note, F in the third skill degree is a 123 and the fourth scale degree is be. But from a to B, I's a whole step. There's a note in between them, so we need to make that relationship conform to the major scale pattern. So by flattening the B to B flat. Now I have 1/2 step between the third and Ford scale degrees and a whole step between the fourth on the fifth scale degrees. Since we've increased the distance between the notes B and C, and now we've created an F major scale. The F major scale must always contain a B flat. If we look at this F major scale on a trouble cleft, what I've done is added a flat symbol in front of the note. B. Remember a flat as a symbol that indicates a note is to be played 1/2 step lower. So we've seen that a sharp raises the pitch of a note by 1/2 step, and the flat lowers the pitch of a note by 1/2 step. But not all Sharps or flats or played on black keys. Take a look at this slide. It shows that there are two names for most notes. The more common of the two note names is in a boulder typeface. Get familiar with this chart. It will help you with your assignment for your assignment for this class. I'll let you know whether to you Sharps or flats. So now you know what half steps and whole steps are and how to use them to build a major scale. I'll see you in the next video lesson where I am and explained your assignment for this class. 3. Class Assignment: Okay, so that completes our class on how to construct major scales. I hope that you found this course useful. Now let's look at our assignment for this class, your assignment for this classes to complete a short series of written exercises that I've created To help solidify the knowledge you've gained in this class. I've uploaded the class notes and the exercises to the attached file section of this class . Please download those materials and print out this sheet with the exercises on it and grab a pencil. I want you to work on these exercises by hand because you'll gain the added benefit of improving your written music notation skills for your major scale exercises. I've laid out a handful of scales and the trouble cliff staff. Your assignment is to add any necessary sharp or flat symbols in each scale. In orderto have the notes in the scale adhere to the major scale pattern of whole step whole step half step, hold, step, whole step, whole step half step to help you with these exercises, I've listed the major scale pattern underneath each scale, and I've also listed whether to use sharps or flats need scale for each major scale you add either Sharps or flats Now demonstrate completing the exercises. I'm gonna work on the G major scale. I know that I covered the G major scale in our last video lesson. But as I work through it this time I'll be bouncing back and forth from the piano to the exercise sheet to demonstrate how I would recommend working on your assignment. I like to work on music theory exercises at the piano. Impossible. This way you get the added benefit of hearing what you're working on. Plus, the piano is a great instrument to learn theory on since the notes are laid out so visually so for this scale, you would you sharps So I start with G now from G. Today is a whole step So we're good. There from a to B is a whole step. So we're good there from B to C is 1/2 step. So we're good There from C to D is a whole step. So we're good There from D T is a whole step. So we're good there and then from e t. F is 1/2 step and if we look ahead from after G is a whole step. So again, we need to adjust that f to make sure that these last three notes conform to the major scale pattern. I already know that I need to use Sharps in this exercise. So if I sharp the f and it will make from e two f short a whole step and it will make the distance between the last two notes from F sharp G 1/2 step. So by adding a sharp symbol in front of F and making it in f sharp. Now, our last three notes in the scale conform to the major scale pattern. And now we have a G major scale, and I'm done with this particular exercise. As you're working on these exercises, it might be helpful for you to go back and review the previous video lessons in this class . For me. Personally, I learn best through repetition of information and then applying what I've learned. Also, I would highly recommend working on these exercises at the keyboard or piano. This way, you also get the benefit of hearing the major scale. For the time being, I'm not gonna upload an answer key to these exercises because I don't want you to be tempted to look at that and just plug the answers in. I want you to sit and take your time with these exercises and really work through them. Once you've completed all five exercises, either scan or take a high resolution photo of your exercise sheet and upload the file to Dropbox or Google Drive and then post the link to your file in the Project gallery. I'm more than happy to check your work and give you notes in your assignment. Be sure to read the project description on the class page, where I've listed out the specific steps for your assignment. And be sure to download the materials in the attached file section. Remember, the goal of these exercises is to start building your practical know how in regards to major scales and then sharing your results with your classmates so that we can learn together as a community. Also, I want to mention that if you want to continue your music education, I have many other courses available. I have classes on song, writing skills, melodies and writing court progressions. I invite you to check out those other classes as well, feel free to reach out to me with any questions that you may have by posting them to the community section on the class page. I'll do my best to answer your questions as quickly as I can. Thank you so much for watching this class, and I'm looking forward to reviewing your work.