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Harmony 101 Harmonizing the Major Scale, Part 1 The Major Scale Our musical scales are built from a succession of musical intervals, called half-steps and whole oteps. Ukulele are fretted in half steps, 90 two frets = a whole step. A major scale is built up from the root (the first tone of the scale) with intervals stacked in this order: whole - whole - half - whole - whole - whole - half You could play a major scale on one string of your instrument, starting with the open string by playing these frete: ° 2 45 7 9 nz ee whole whole half whole whole whole half step step step step step step step Notice that it docen't matter which etring you use, it will always sound like a major scale. Counting the open string, there are & tones in the major scale. Starting with the first tone, each note gets a number: 1-2-5-4-5-6-7-6 The eighth tone is the same ae the first tone, only it sounde an octave higher. Thinking in terms of numbers, or scale degrees, is very useful when you start looking at harmony, transposing and other fun stuff, Remember, we are not talking about fret numbers - in the example above the third degree of the scale lies on the 4th fret! IF you start at the open string and play all of the frete up to the 12" you will hear what's called the chromatic scale ~ all of the notes in the western octave. Key IF you finger a major scale on a different: string, you change key. Playing on the 1 string would give you an A major scale, on the 2 string an E major scale, on the 5" a C major scale, and so on. Of course, you could also play these scales by moving across several strings. The notes are named after the first: seven letters of the alphabet: A —G. The interval between each letter name is fixed as follows: A-B = whole step half step whole step whole step half step F-G= whole etep G-A=whole step © 2012 Mark Nelson. All Rights Reserved. Do Not Duplicate Notice that this pattern has the same number of whole steps and half steps as the major scale, but they are stacked up in a different order! Rearranging the notes into the pattern of the major scale gives: C-D=whole step D-E=whole step E-F =half step F-G = whole step G-A=whole step A-B= whole step B-C=half step This C major scale is the familiar arrangement of the white keys on a piano. What: about the black keys? They are the half stepe. So a note one half step higher than F is F#; a half step higher than C is Ci, and so on: while a note one half step lower than B is called Bb; a half step lower than E is Eb, ete. By the way, playing the notes from A - A on the previous page would give you a Natural Minor scale (also known as the aeolian mode) in the key of A. Scales built. on the intervals contained in the major scale are called modes. Each mode starts at a different. point—so starting on the eixth note of a major ocale is the aeolian mode; while a scale that starts on the fifth tone-G in the case of C majors called the mixolydian mode. In cage you were wondering, the word “diatonic” refers to the major ecale and the modes and chords built from it. Chords ‘A chord is made up of at least three tones: the root of the chord, a tone one third higher, and a fifth. Thirds come in two flavors: a minor third is one a half steps above the root; major thirds are ‘two whole steps. As you can guess, a chord with a minor third will sound minor; one with a major ‘third will sound major. major third rinor third ° 2 45 2 "2 SS Se major third minor third Inthe illustration above, the keyboard shows a major third from C to E and a minor third from A to C, while the uke illustrates a major third from E to G* and a minor third from C* to E on the second- string, Like thirds, fifths come in various flavors. Perfect fifths are 7 half steps above the root (= a minor third + a major third). Both major and minor chords have perfect fifths. Diminished fifths drop the perfect fifth by a half step; augmented fifths are the result of raising the fifth a half step. © 2012 Mark Nelson. All Rights Reserved, Do Not Dupli, te Harmonizing the Major scale Only using the notes of the major scale, chords built from each ecale degree follow this pattern: 1 major 2- minor 3- minor 4 major 5 - major 6 = minor 7 - diminished (also written °) ‘A diminished triad has a both minor third and a diminished fifth Here’s what the chords would be in the keys of C & Bb: scale degree chord spelling ‘scale degree chord spelling 1 maj CEG I Boma} Bb-D-F ii Dm D-F-A iim CEb-G ii Em E-G-B iii Dm D-F-A Vo Fmaj FAC Vo Emaj Eb-G-Bb Yo Gmaj GBD Vo Fmaj FAC vo Am ACE vi Gm G-Bb-D vi Baim BDF vil Adina ACE Here's a harmonized Bb major scale. Bbmaj Cmin Dmin Ebmaj Fmaj_ = Grin Adm Bbmaj rr) $43 [Stts [tte te Ettio rr + + $ + I i i v v vi vil T In the example above, the root of each chord ie on both the 4" & 1% strings, the third on the 3 string, and the fifth on the 2 string, | left off the root on the 12th fret/tet string of the Adim chord because It is impossible to finger the chord that, way: but you should know where it is. In prac- tice, it really doesn't matter how the tones are stacked up as long as there is at least one root, third and fifth, Notice the Roman numerals under each chord? In case you slept during history clase, that's how you count to 7. The &th tone is the same as the root one octave higher. Many people use Roman numerals instead of the Arabic numbers as a shorthand for writing out chord progressions. So a common blues progression might be called a Il¥-V. It 6 a good idea to start thinking about chords in terms of their relationships to each other. In the key of Bb, Eb acts as the IV (four) chord, while C minor is the Ii (two) chord. Many musicians use upper case numerals for major triads (|, IV & V) and lower-case for chords based on minor triads (il, li, vi and vii). Thinking of chords in terms of their relationship to a key center has a lot of advantages. © 2012 Mark Nelson, All Rights Reserved. Do Not Duplicate