Let’s look at how to build a B 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’re groups of notes used to write songs.
Songs written in the key of B major used the notes of the B major scale to write the song.
How to Build a Major Scale
Major scales are built using a pattern of half-steps and whole steps.
A half-step is the distance from one note to the very next, whether black or white.
A whole step is the distance from any key, to two away, whether black or white. A whole step is the same as two half-steps.
Major scales are named after their starting note, so a B major scale will start on a B.
To build a major scale, find your starting note, then use this pattern of half and whole steps to build the scale (W = whole step, and H = half step):
W – W – H – W – W – W – H
It may be helpful to think of this pattern as two sets of W – W – H, joined by a whole step.
How to Build a B Major Scale
So to build a B major scale, we’ll start on B. If you’re not sure how to label the notes of the piano, start here.
Starting on a B, we’ll find the note one whole step up, which is C♯. Then we’ll find the note one whole-step up from C♯, which is D♯. Then we’ll find the note one half-step up from D♯, which is E. We can continue this pattern until we reach B, and the scale is complete.
What Are the Notes of a B Major Scale?
The notes of the B major scale are:
B – C♯ – D♯ – E – F♯ – G♯ – A♯ – B
Labeling the Notes of the Scale
You may be wondering how we decide to label the C♯ as a C♯ and not a D♭, or why we label the D♯ as a D♯ and not E♭ (sharps indicate the note one half-step up, and flats indicate the note one half-step down).
Since the notes of a major scale must progress in alphabetical order, the first note of the B major scale is B, the next note will be some kind of C, the next note will be some kind of D, and so on.
Other Major Scales
You can use this pattern of whole and half-steps to build any major scale. Find your starting note, then follow the pattern of W – W – H – W – W – W – H to find the remaining notes of the 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
Some scales are considered “enharmonic”. This means they use the same notes on the piano, but are labeled differently.
The B major scale is an enharmonic scale, because it can be labeled as B major, but it can also be labeled as C flat major. The keys on the piano used to play these two scales are identical, but they can go by two different names.
There are six total enharmonic major scales:
Take a look at the circle of fifths to understand these patterns and see how the major scales relate to one another.
Now you know how to build not only a B major scale, but any major scale on the piano!
I love seeing how the patterns on the piano can be applied again and again, starting on any note. Knowing the pattern for building major scales will help you as you learn how to build many different types of chords!