Now, let's say that we want to start on a different note than C, but we want to play the Major pattern (T-T-S-T-T-T-S). In that case, we are playing the Major scale of a completely different "key" . If we do this of course, we will have to include accidentals, i.e. flats or sharps (the black keys on the piano) in order to keep the pattern in tact. Here's why:

Apply the Major (T-T-S-T-T-T-S) pattern starting with the note G instead of C and you get this:

T = GA
S = BC
T = CD
T = DE
*T = EF#
S = F#G

*When we go a full tone from E, we arrive at F#. So we can then say that the key of G is spelled:

G Major Scale 1

Notice that the pattern (T-T-S-T-T-T-S) is exactly the same as in the key of C in the section on Diatonic Scales. The only difference is that when that pattern starts from the G note instead of C, it requires an F#.

Let's try it for D:

D Major Scale 1

Now A:

A Major Scale 1

Are you seeing a pattern yet?


Circle of Fifths

Every time we go up 5 notes in a scale to make a new scale, we add a sharp note and create a new sharp key.

If instead of counting up 5 notes, we go down five notes, we add a flat note and create a flat key.

For example, if we count 5 notes backwards from the high C in CDEFGABC, we arrive at the F note. Now let's apply the Major (TTSTTTS) pattern to the note F. We get

This is the F Major scale.

F Major Scale 1

Count 5 notes back starting from F and we arrive at Bb. Apply the Major pattern to Bb and we get

This is the scale of Bb Major. We can keep going around too.

Bb Major Scale 1

Here are all the flat keys:

A Keys List 2

This has been made into a clever chart called the circle of fifths. All the keys available in Western music are represented here. The enharmonic keys are noted on the inside of the bottom of the circle.

Circle of Fifths

The point of this chart is to help the musician memorize the keys and to show how the keys relate to one another. This will help a lot in composition and modulation, to be addressed later.

Playing the Major Scales

Let's play the key of G. Do you remember the 3rd and 8th fret positions for key of C?

Vertical Diatonic Diagram Both

This time play the yellow pattern at the 3rd fret or the green pattern at the 10th fret. And voila! You're playing the G Major scale.

Vertical Diatonic Diagram Both

Here is the notation for the G Major postions without the use of pedals:

G Major Notation No Pedals 3rd and 10th Fret

And here is the G Major scale with the use of pedals:

G Major Notation Pedals 3rd

Here is the link to the pedal locations in case you don't remember: THE COPEDENT

These two patterns are your core scale necessities. Memorize them. They will be necessary for playing in other modes (next lesson) and you will need them for any improvising.

Furthermore, these patterns are moveable. In other words, you can play in every key just by changing your bar position and playing the same pattern.

For example, let's look at the key of A. The pattern will be the same, but the notes will look a little different. Here are the two positions of A:

Vertical Diatonic Diagram Both

Here is the A Major notation without pedals:

Vertical A Diatonic Diagram no pedals

Here is the A major notation with pedals:

Vertical A Diatonic Diagram With Pedals

Pedal Locations: THE COPEDENT

Key Signatures

Did you notice how ugly the sheet music notation starts looking when we play in different keys? I mean the G major scale wasn't bad with only one #, but A major, with 3 sharps starts looking messy. No doubt the other keys would as well.

In order to remedy this problem, we can add a "key signature" to the beginning of the staff. This will tell us which notes are going to be sharp for the entire piece. If a natural note is desired as the music progresses, we can just use a natural symbol to cancel an accidental in the key signature.

Here is the A major notation with the key signature written. Looks a lot cleaner, doesn't it?

Vertical A Diatonic Diagram With Pedals

The key signature in this case says that the C, F, and G are to be played sharp (#). The sharp or flat note only appears once in the key signature. In other words, even though only one C is marked as C# in the key signature, all C's are to be played sharp regardless of where they fall on the staff.


  • Home
  • History
  • Construction
  • Notation Systems
  • Notation Legend
  • Tuning
  • Tuning History **NEW**
  • The Copedent
  • Info for Beginners
  • Scales
  • Dyads
  • Chords
  • Composition
  • Improvisation
  • Techniques
  • Song of the Week
  • Weekly Exercise
  • Classic Sheet Music **NEW**

  • Buy the Scale Dictionary
  • Buy the Chord Dictionary
  • About Me
  • Contact
  • HistoryHISTORY
    Tuning HistoryTIMELINE
    Weekly SongSHEET MUSIC
    Weekly ExerciseEXERCISES
    Classic Sheet MusicCLASSICS
    Skype LessonsLESSONS