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:
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:
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.
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.
Here are all the flat keys:
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.
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?
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.
Here is the notation for the G Major postions without the use of pedals:
And here is the G Major scale with the use of pedals:
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:
Here is the A Major notation without pedals:
Here is the A major notation with pedals:
Pedal Locations: THE COPEDENT
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?
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.