Let’s look at how to build a G flat major scale on the piano. We’ll also look at 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. Songs written in the key of G flat major used the notes of the G 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 G flat major scale will start on a G♭.
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 G Flat Major Scale
So to build a G flat major scale, we’ll start on a G♭ (if you’re not sure how to label the notes on the piano, start here).
We’ll play the note one whole step up from G♭, which is A♭. Next, we’ll play the note one whole step up from A♭, which is B♭. Then we’ll play the note one half-step up from B♭, C♭ (this note is the same as a B, I’ll explain why we call in C♭ later).
We can continue following this pattern of whole and half-steps until we reach the next G♭ and the scale is complete.
What Are the Notes of the G Flat Major Scale?
The notes of the G flat major scale are:
G♭ – A♭ – B♭ – C♭ – D♭ – E♭ – F – G♭
Labeling the Notes of the G Flat Major Scale
You may be wondering why we label these notes as flats instead of sharps (flats indicate the note 1/2 down, sharps indicate the note 1/2 step up), or why we would call the white key C♭ instead of B.
The reason is that our definition of a scale tells us the notes must progress in alphabetical order. Since this is a G flat major scale, the second note of the scale will be some sort of A, the third note some sort of B, the fourth note some sort of C, and so on.
Other Major Scales
You can use this pattern to build any major scale. Find your starting note, then follow the pattern of W – W – H – W – W – W – H 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
Some scales are considered “enharmonic”. This means they use the same keys on the piano, but are labeled differently.
The G flat major scale is an enharmonic scale because it can be labeled as G flat major, or as F 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 G flat major scale on the piano, and you can use the major scales pattern to build all the other major scales!
Using patterns to understand the piano is a wonderful way to learn and enjoy music!