Let’s look at how to build an E 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 E major used the notes of the E major scale to write the song.
How to Build a Major Scale
Major scales are built using a pattern of half 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 the same as two half-steps.
Major scales are named after their starting note. So an E major scale will start on an E note.
To build a major scale, find your starting note and play through this pattern of half and whole steps (W = whole step, H = half-step):
W – W – H – W – W – W – H
It can help to remember this pattern by thinking of it as two sets of W – W – H, joined by a whole step.
Major Scales Printable
This 23-page PDF will help you learn and visualize the notes for different major scales, laying the perfect foundation for learning the piano with chords!
How to Build an E Major Scale
So to build an E major scale, we’ll start on an E. If you’re not sure how to label the notes of the piano, start here.
Starting on an E, we’ll find the note one whole step up from that, which is F♯. Then we’ll find the note one whole step up from F♯, which is G♯. Then we’ll find the note one half-step up from G♯, which is A. We can continue this pattern until we reach the next E and the scale is complete.
What Are the Notes of an E Major Scale?
The notes of an E major scale are:
E – F♯ – G♯ – A – B – C♯ – D♯ – E
How to Label the Notes of the Scale
You may be wondering why the F♯ is labeled as F♯ instead of G♭, or why the G♯ is labeled as G♯ instead of A♭ (sharps indicate the note one half-step up, flats indicate the note one half-step down).
The reason is because the notes of a scale progress in alphabetical order. Since this is an E major scale, the second note will some sort of F, the third note some sort of G, and so on.
Other Major Scales
You can use this pattern of half and whole steps to build any other major scale. Find your starting note, then play the W – W – H – W – W – W – H pattern to complete 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
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 E major scale on the piano, and you can use that pattern to build any other major scale.
Knowing how to build major scales will help you in building different types of chords, because you’ll understand the structure of the chord as it relates to the corresponding major scale.
Is there a whole whole half pattern for minor scales? Or do you just flat the third.? I am beginner
Yes, to build a natural minor scale, you can use this pattern: W – H – W – W – H – W – W
And to build a harmonic minor scale, you can use this pattern: W – H – W – W – H – W + H – H
I could figure it out using the Do-Re-Mi method I think if it doesn’t sing right no matter what key you start with. Seems like a couple of stabs at it and I can figure about anything out as far as patterns now I appreciate your help