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C major modes intro] C Ionian ] Dorian mode ] Phrygian mode ] Lydian mode ] Mixolydian Mode ] Aeolian mode ] Locrian mode ] Basic major scale fingerings ] F major modes ] G Modes ] Constructing Scales ] [ Key Signatures and constructing major scales ] Modulation, cadence, progressions ]

Major Guitar Scales and Key Signatures

Gutiar scales and contruction the major guitar scale

In the last lesson we covered the major scale and its construction. We also covered the construction of the major, minor, diminished and augmented triads within the major scale. I mentioned key signatures, tonic, subdominant and dominant chords. What I would like to do, is take everything we've covered one step further. The first topic we'll cover is the key signature.

Have you ever wondered what the sharp # and flat symbol stood for at the beginning of each staff? Look at the illustration below and notice that it shows 1 (sharp #). 

The flat and sharp symbols you see at the beginning of the sheet music signifies the key the music was based in. 

To make this more understandable we need to construct the key of G major and the major guitar scale.

The illustration to the left shows how to begin to construct the Major key. In this case, we are going to construct the key of G major.

The first thing you do is determine what key you would like to develop. And then start with the first note  of that key you would like to construct. From that first note, write out all the notes that follow up to one octave. Notice we have went from G to G. Don't worry about the whole or half steps yet.  Once you have your notes in place, you now begin to determine the sharps and flats of that key. Remember all keys are constructed with a certain, whole and half step combination. This formula for every major key is:

 Whole, Whole, half, Whole, Whole, Whole, half. 

Knowing this, we need to construct the key of G major. We need to take the first note and this is the G note. So, from the G note we need to go one whole step to the next note. One whole step is two frets on the guitar. If we go up one whole step from the G, we would have the A note. So the A note is correct on the illustration above so we would not add a sharp or flat to that A note. Look at the illustration below and find the G note at the 3rd fret. Now move up two frets and you will find the A note.

Guitar Major scale

We need to continue up another Whole step from the A note this time. One whole step from the A note is the B note, look at the image above. The B note is also correct above, so we would not add a sharp or flat.

major scale notes

Now we need to go only 1/2 step from the B note. 1/2 step is one fret on the guitar. So if we go up one fret from the B note, we would have the C note. The C note is also correct, so we would not add a Sharp or Flat to that note.

Guitar Major scale

So far we have completed the steps, whole, whole, half or the notes G, A, B and C. We now need to do three more whole steps and one half step.

Continuing from the C note, one whole step from the C would be the D note. That is also correct, so leave it as is.

Guitar Major scale

One whole step from the D note would be the E note. It's okay as well.

One whole step from the E note would be the F#. Now we need to do something about that F note. We need to add a Sharp to it. One whole step from the E is the F#.

Now we only have one note left, that is the G note. One half step from the F# is the G.

guitar scales Now you have constructed the key of G major. Notice that there is one sharp. That sharp is the F#. Also notice at the beginning of the measure we now have a sharp symbol.

That sharp symbol above to the left is the signature for key of G major. The key of G major is the only major key with 1 sharp. That sharp is the F# note. So if you write a song in G major, the sharp symbol is placed on the F line above to the left.

If you found a sheet of music with no symbol and the beginning, it would be in the key of C major. C major has no sharps or flats. It is the only major key with no accidentals. Accidentals are sharps and flats and other things we will be covering soon.

Use this information to construct all of the major keys. Notice the sharps and flats of each key you construct.

Although G major is the only Major key with this signature, there is one minor key that shares the same signature, this would be the Em. This is where the relative minor comes from. It is also called the natural minor. The sixth note of the major key is the Aeolian mode as well. In the key of G, E is the minor mode. 

If you were in the key of C major, Am is the relative minor. The Am shares the same signature as C major and neither of these scales have any sharps or flats. We have covered the Am pentatonic and C major scales throughout our lessons so you should be familiar with them by now. 

You need to learn to construct the major keys of C, G, D and A. Notice as you construct these major keys, the C will have no accidentals, the G has 1, the D has 2 and the A has 3.

Get busy with those major keys. You can find a table showing all the major keys and each note of the major key here.

Good Luck,

Guitar Secrets


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