Let’s look at how to build a D flat 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, in alphabetical order, starting and ending on the same note.
They’re groups of notes used to write songs. So a song written in the key of D flat major uses the notes of the D flat 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 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 a D flat major scale starts on a D♭.
To build a major scale, find your starting note, and play through this pattern of whole and half-steps (where 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 a D Flat Major Scale
So to build a D flat major scale on the piano, we’ll start on a D♭ (if you’re not sure how to label the notes of the piano, start here).
Then we’ll play the note one whole step up from D♭, which is E♭. Next, we’ll play the note one whole step up from E♭, which is F. Then we’ll play the note one half-step up from F, which is G♭.
We can continue following this pattern until we reach the next D♭ and the scale is complete.
What Are the Notes of the D Flat Major Scale?
The notes of the D♭ major scale are:
D♭ – E♭ – F – G♭ – A♭ – B♭ – C – D♭
Labeling the Notes of the D Flat Major Scale
You may be wondering why the E♭ and G♭ are labeled as E♭ and G♭ instead of D♯ and F♯ (sharps indicate the note 1/2 step up, flats indicate the note 1/2 step down), or why the A♭ and B♭ are labeled as A♭ and B♭ instead of G♯ and A♯.
The reason is that according to our definition of a major scale, the notes must progress in alphabetical order. Since this is a D flat major scale, the second note of the scale must be some sort of E, the third note some sort of F, and so on.
Other Major Scales
You can use this pattern to build any major scale! Find your starting note, then play through 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 D flat major scale is an enharmonic scale because it can be labeled as D flat major, or as C sharp major. The keys on the piano used to play these two scales are actually the same notes, 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 a D flat major scale on the piano, and you can use this pattern to build any major scale!
Using patterns to build scales and chords is a wonderful way to learn the piano, since patterns can be applied again and again. Instead of memorizing the notes of every scale and chord, you can memorize the pattern and then apply it starting on any note!