2. Major Scales – One and Two Octaves

Published by Jason Yang on

Major scales - one octave and two octaves - Jason Yang Pianist

Major Scales

A scale is a sequence of notes that act as the building blocks for a piece of music. The first scale everyone encounters when learning music is the major scale which follows the interval pattern T-T-S-T-T-T-S, where S is a Semitone, and T is a Tone (two semitones).

You can check out this post for more information on Tones and Semitones(link).

When reading the interval pattern from left to right we are ascending. Then to descend the scale we simply read the intervals backwards.

Key Signatures

To figure out what key we are in, we simply look at the key signature. These are the sharps or flats at the beginning of the piece after the clef and before the time signature.

Here’s a handy table:

Major Scales - one and two octaves - Jason Yang Pianist

One Octave White Key Major Scales

One octave means we are going from the note to the next note with the same letter name.

I made the following video of all the one octave major scales. I go from C major up to B major in alphabetical order. Right hand, left hand, then hands together.

I recommend adjusting the playback speed to 0.5 and playing along.

One Octave Black Key Major Scales

The black keys are sharps and flats(link). These scales are a bit more difficult and typically only appear beyond the Grade 2 syllabus.

Regardless, I’ve made a video. Here it is!

Two Octaves White Key Major Scales

If we want to elongate any of the scales into two octaves, and go to the second next note with the same name, we simply skip over the last finger letter and use the same fingering as that of the first note, repeat from the beginning and continue as though we are restarting again.

Sorry for the wordy sentence, but you’ll understand when you follow this video:

Two Octave Black Key Major Scales

Here’s another video, the black key major scales in two octaves. These typically pop up after the grade 3.

Practice your Scales

Yes, I know, they can be boring. But, to us pianists practicing our scales should be like brushing our teeth. Do it every day.

Categories: Piano Basics

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