A1 | The Major Scale

What is a major scale?

A scale is a row of eight notes. It starts on any note and ends on the same note an octave higher, e.g. C – C or F – F.

Look at the following scale for example. This is a C major scale. It starts and ends on the note C.

C major scale

Each degree of the scale has a technical name:

Tonic=always the 1st note, whatever the key
Leading note=7th

A tone (T) is the name given to the interval between C and D. Have a look at a keyboard; there is a black note between C and D. Between E and F there is a semitone (ST) as there is no black note between them.

This is the pattern of a major scale: T-T-ST-T-T-T-ST.

Using scales

Many of the most familiar melodies stay within an octave. Be careful when jumping from note to note and use rhythmical pattern to ensure unity in the melody. Try to repeat sections of your melody. Trying to sing your melody is a good way of deciding if the tune is manageable!

Here, the melody is in C major but remember the original by Beethoven is in D major. The melody is one tone lower than the original. The tonic below is C.


Create a scale that starts on G keeping to the intervallic pattern of a major scale. Then start on F, B etc.

Practising composing a melody

How do you decide which notes to use in the melody?

  1. Get an instrument or use your voice to create a small figure with few notes.
  2. Try extending the idea to an 8-bar melody.
  3. Consider whether the notes in your melody run smoothly from one to another.
  4. Use long rhythms at the end of each phrase (a musical sentence).
  5. You can repeat and extend your initial idea in order to ensure unity a thereby becoming an effective melody.

Click on this link.

Then listen to the melody Beethoven used in his 9th Symphony (last movement).

Composition Task

A1 Composition Task