Let’s look at how to build an A major scale on the piano. We’ll also learn the pattern for building any major scale.
What Are Major Scales?
Major scales are groups of eight notes, played in alphabetical order, starting and ending on the same note. They are groups of notes used to write songs.
Songs written in the key of A major use the notes of the A major scale to write the song.
How to Build a Major Scale
A half-step is the distance from one note to the very next, whether black or white.
A whole step is the distance from one note to two away, whether black or white. A whole step is two half-steps.
Major scales are named after their starting note, so an A major scale will start on an A.
To build a major scale, find your starting note, then build the scale using this pattern of half and whole steps (W = whole step and H = half-step):
W – W – H – W – W – W – H
It can help to think of this pattern as two sets of W – W – H, joined by a whole step.
How to Build an A Major Scale
So to build an A major scale, we’ll start on an A note. If you’re note sure how to label the notes of the piano, start here.
Starting on A, we’ll play the note one whole step up, which is B. Then we’ll play the note one whole step up from B, which is C♯. Then we’ll play the note one half-step up from C♯, which is D. We can continue the pattern until we reach the next A and the scale is complete.
What Are the Notes of an A Major Scale?
The notes of an A major scale are:
A – B – C♯ – D – E – F♯ – G♯ – A
Labeling the Notes
You may wonder why the black keys are labeled C♯, F♯, and G♯, instead of D♭, G♭, A♭ (sharp indicates the note one half-step up, flat indicates the note one half-step down).
The reason is because scales progress in alphabetical order. Since this is an A major scale, the second note will be some sort of B, the third note will be some sort of C, and so on.
Other Major Scales
You can use this pattern starting on any note, to build the corresponding major scale. Just play the W – W – H – W – W – W – H pattern to build the major scale.
Here are all the major scales:
C major scale
G major scale
D major scale
A major scale
E major scale
B major scale
F sharp major scale
C sharp major scale
F major scale
B flat major scale
E flat major scale
A flat major scale
D flat major scale
G flat major scale
C flat major scale
If you’d like to see how the scales are related to each other, take a look at the circle of fifths. It’s a really neat pattern demonstrating the relationships between the major scales!
Now you know how to build an A major scale on the piano, and you can use that knowledge to build any major scale!
Once you’re familiar with building major scales, it’s much easier to build different types of chords!