I recently started on online course called “Write Like Mozart: An Introduction to Classical Music”, but after watching the introduction video realised that my theory knowledge was severely lacking. So I spent a couple of days blitzing my way through the book Basic Music Theory by Joe Procopio. And now I know all about major and minor scales, the different types of intervals and chords, and lots of other useful things that will allow me to progress with the course.
It’s all way too much to summarise but I did want to share one thing, the Major scale. If someone where to say play the C Major scale on a piano I’m pretty sure most people could do so even if they don’t know what the C Major scale is. You play from left to right and press only the white keys. If someone where to ask me to do the same but with the D Major scale, I’m not sure I could have done the same. I’d would have had to work out by ear which of the black keys to include. However, the book Basic Music Theory shows you the formula for the major (and the minor) scales so I thought I’d share what I learnt.
So this is the C Major Scale as it looks on the treble clef and the numbers underneath show the formula for all major scales. 1 represents a tone and 1/2 represents a semitone. When including both the black and the white keys on the piano, a semitone is the distance between any note on the piano and the next note above or below it. A tone is two semitones. Therefore the formula above reads “tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone”.
Now each major scale is named after the starting note, so remembering that, plus the formula “tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone” we can now work out any and all major scales. So let’s put this into practice.
Here we have the D Major Scale:
And here it is represented on the piano, where the grey keys are the ones you play:
And here is the same for the G Major Scale:
Basic Music Theory is packed full of useful music theory and explains it all very clearly in a simple and easy to understand way. And the best thing about it is it only costs £1.49 on the iBook Store.