I like to think of the major scale as the ‘diving board into the pool of chord theory’.  So much information can be drawn from a major scale:

What is a Major Scale?

A major scale is made up of 8 notes.  The notes when played in sequence sound like “DO RE MI FA SO LA TI DO”.  The key of C is built off the C major scale, the key of G is built from the G major scale, etc.  The notes of the C major scale are: C – D – E – F – G – A – B – C (notice there are no sharps or flats in the key of C).

We can number each of these notes 1 through 8.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8

An important observation to make here is the interval (or spacing) between each numbered note. I’ll use “w” to represent a whole step, and “h” to represent a half step. So the interval between the numbered notes in the major scale could be represented like this:

1 w 2 w 3 h 4 w 5 w 6 w 7 h 8

Or you could say there are whole steps between all of the notes except between 3 & 4, and 7 & 8.  If we follow this pattern, we can “build” the major scale in any key.  Look at the following chart:

A Major Scale Chart
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Key of C C D E F G A B C
Key of G G A B C D E F# G
Key of D D E F# G A B C# D
Key of A A B C# D E F# G# A
Key of E E F# G# A B C# D# E
Key of F F G A B♭ C D E F

There are a couple of important things to note in the chart above. In each key, between notes 3 & 4 and 7 & 8 there are half steps. Between all the other numbered notes, there are whole steps. Also, note that each letter A through G are represented in each scale. In the key of G we don’t go from E to Gb because we would skip “F”. Likewise, in the key of F, we don’t go from A to A# because we would not be notating B anywhere in the scale. Also, notes 1 and 8 are always the same, only an “octave” apart in pitch.

For a complete list of the major scales in PDF format, click here: Major Scale Sheet.