A scale (in music) is a given set of notes with assumed intervals. Major scales, minor scales, chromatic scales, augmented scales, blues scales, and pentatonic scales are a few of these.

As reference for following scales, let's first look at the chromatic scale, which begins on one note, and plays every half step up to the next octave.

Chromatic Scale

  • C Major - C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C
  • G Major - G G# A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G
  • D Major - D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D
  • A Major - A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A
  • E Major - E F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E
  • B Major - B C C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B
  • F# Major - F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E F F#
  • C# Major - C# D D# E F F# G G# A A# B C C#
  • F Major - F F# G G# A A# B C C# D D# E F
  • Bb Major - Bb B C Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab A Bb
  • Eb Major - Eb E F Gb G Ab A Bb B C Db D Eb
  • Ab Major - Ab A Bb B C Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab

Major Scales

Major scales start on one note, and from there, go in this pattern:
Whole Step - Whole Step - Half Step - Whole Step - Whole Step - Whole Step - Half Step

Look at the chromatic scale to get the notes. If you're right, these should be the major scales (triads in bold):

  • C Major - C D E F G A B C
  • G Major - G A B C D E F# G
  • D Major - D E F# G A B C# D
  • A Major - A B C# D E F# G# A
  • E Major - E F# G# A B C# D# E
  • B Major - B C# D# E F# G# A# B
  • F# Major - F# G# A# B C# D# F F#
  • C# Major - C# D# F F# G# A# C C#
  • F Major - F G A Bb C D E F
  • Bb Major - Bb C D Eb F G A Bb
  • Eb Major - Eb F G Ab Bb C D Eb
  • Ab Major - Ab Bb C Db Eb F G Ab

Minor Scales

Minor scales are simply the major scale with the third note flatted. Triads are again in bold.

  • C Minor - C D Eb F G A B C
  • G Minor - G A Bb C D E F# G
  • D Minor - D E F G A B C# D
  • A Minor - A B C D E F# G# A
  • E Minor - E F# G A B C# D# E
  • B Minor - B C# D E F# G# A# B
  • F# Minor - F# G# A B C# D# F F#
  • C# Minor - C# D# E F# G# A# C C#
  • F Minor - F G Ab Bb C D E F
  • Bb Minor - Bb C Db Eb F G A Bb
  • Eb Minor - Eb F Gb Ab Bb C D Eb
  • Ab Minor - Ab Bb B Db Eb F G Ab

Diminished Scales

Diminished scales are the major scale with the third and fifth notes flatted.

  • C Major - C D Eb F Gb A B C
  • G Diminished - G A Bb C Db Eb F# G
  • D Diminished - D E F G Ab B C# D
  • A Diminished - A B C D Eb F# G# A
  • E Diminished - E F# G A Bb C# D# E
  • B Diminished - B C# D E F G# A# B
  • F# Diminished- F# G# A B C D# F F#
  • C# Diminished - C# D# E F# G A# C C#
  • F Diminished - F G Ab Bb B D E F
  • Bb Diminished - Bb C Db Eb E G A Bb
  • Eb Diminished - Eb F Gb Ab B C D Eb
  • Ab Diminished - Ab Bb B Db E F G Ab

Augmented Scales

Augmented scales are the major scale with the fifth note in the scale sharped.

  • C Major - C D E F G# A B C
  • G Augmented - G A B C D# E F# G
  • D Augmented - D E F# G A# B C# D
  • A Augmented - A B C# D F F# G# A
  • E Augmented - E F# G# A C C# D# E
  • B Augmented - B C# D# E G G# A# B
  • F# Augmented - F# G# A# B D D# F F#
  • C# Augmented - C# D# F F# A A# C C#
  • F Augmented - F G A Bb C# D E F
  • Bb Augmented - Bb C D Eb F# G A Bb
  • Eb Augmented - Eb F G Ab B C D Eb
  • Ab Augmented - Ab Bb C Db E F G Ab

Blues Scales

To find a blues scale, you take the major scale, and use these notes:
First note - Flatted Third note - Fourth Note - Flatted Fifth Note - Fifth Note - Flatted Seventh Note - First note (octave higher)

Here are the blues scales:

  • C Blues - C Eb F Gb G Bb C
  • G Blues - G Bb C Db D F G
  • D Blues - D F G Ab A C D
  • A Blues - A C D Eb E G A
  • E Blues - E G A Bb B D E
  • B Blues - B D E F F# A B
  • F# Blues - F# A B C C# E F#
  • C# Blues - C# E F# G G# B C#
  • F Blues - F Ab Bb B C Eb F
  • Bb Blues - Bb Db Eb E F Ab Bb
  • Eb Blues - Eb Gb Ab A Bb Db Eb
  • Ab Blues - Ab B Db D Eb Gb Ab

Pentatonic Scales

Pentatonic major and minor scales are the first, second, third, fifth, sixth, and first (octave higher) notes of their respective scales.

Exotic Scales

See Exotic Scales.

More minor scales


chromaticblue's write-up of the "minor" scale refers to the so-called "ascending melodic" minor. There are other types of minor scales:

Harmonic minor


Lower the third and sixth scale degrees of the major scale.
c    C  D  Eb F  G  Ab B  C
g    G  A  Bb C  D  Eb F# G
d    D  E  F  G  A  Bb C# D
a    A  B  C  D  E  F  G# A
e    E  F# G  A  B  C  D# E
b    B  C# D  E  F# G  A# B
f#   F# G# A  B  C# D  E# F#
c#   C# D# E  F# G# A  B# C#
g#   G# A# B  C# D# E  Fx G#
eb   Eb F  Gb Ab Bb Cb D  Eb
bb   Bb C  Db Eb F  Gb A  Bb
f    F  G  Ab Bb C  Db E  F

Natural minor

The Aeolian mode, or natural minor, is formed by lowering the seventh scale degree of the harmonic minor, or by beginning on the third scale degree of a major (Ionian) scale.
c    C  D  Eb F  G  Ab Bb C
g    G  A  Bb C  D  Eb F  G
d    D  E  F  G  A  Bb C  D
a    A  B  C  D  E  F  G  A
e    E  F# G  A  B  C  D  E
b    B  C# D  E  F# G  A  B
f#   F# G# A  B  C# D  E  F#
c#   C# D# E  F# G# A  B  C#
g#   G# A# B  C# D# E  F# G#
eb   Eb F  Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb
bb   Bb C  Db Eb F  Gb Ab Bb
f    F  G  Ab Bb C  Db Eb F

Melodic minor

The so-called "melodic" minor scale was created because the augmented second interval in the harmonic minor is hard for vocalists to sing. Ascending, it's a major scale with a lowered third; descending, it's identical to the natural minor.
c    C  D  Eb F  G  A  B  C  Bb Ab G  F  Eb D  C
g    G  A  Bb C  D  E  F# G  F  Eb D  C  Bb A  G
d    D  E  F  G  A  B  C# D  C  Bb A  G  F  E  D
a    A  B  C  D  E  F# G# A  G  F  E  D  C  B  A
e    E  F# G  A  B  C# D# E  D  C  B  A  G  F# E
b    B  C# D  E  F# G# A# B  A  G  F# E  D  C# B
f#   F# G# A  B  C# D# E# F# E  D  C# B  A  G# F#
c#   C# D# E  F# G# A# B# C# B  A  G# F# E  D# C#
ab   Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F  G  Ab Gb Fb Eb Db Cb Bb Ab
eb   Eb F  Gb Ab Bb C  D  Eb Db Cb Bb Ab Gb F  Eb
bb   Bb C  Db Eb F  G  A  Bb Ab Gb F  Eb Db C  Bb
f    F  G  Ab Bb C  D  E  F  Eb Db C  Bb Ab G  F

The set of musical tones that harmonize effectively in a given key. In the key of C major, these notes are:

C D E F G A B C

The note intervals (distance between notes, in whole tones) are as follows, with intervals noted between their corresponding notes:

Note C (1) D (1) E (1/2) F (1) G (1) A (1) B (1/2) C

So, the distance between D and E is one whole tone, but the distance between E and F is one half a whole tone, or a half tone.

A chord is made up of the first, third, and fifth notes of a scale, played simultaneously. A C chord is:

C E G

This chord is called the tonic, or root chord in C. There are 6 other diatonic chords (chords that use scale tones) in C. They are, with chord tones included:

Cmajor C E G
Dminor D F A
Eminor E G B
Fmajor F A C
Gmajor G B D
Aminor A C E
Bdiminished B D F

Get the idea? Every tone of the sequence of chords is a note of the C scale. Now, why are some major, some minor? The rule: if the interval (distance) between the first (D) and third (F, as in, the third note of a D scale) is four half tones (two whole tones), the chord is major. If the interval is three half tones (one and a half whole tones) the chord is minor. To restate: if you drop the third note of a scale by a half note, the resulting chord of that scale will be minor.

Now, look back up to the scale tone intervals. Again, we'll use D minor. What's the distance, in a C scale, between D and F? One and a half whole tones. So in the key of C, a diatonic D chord is minor.

chromaticblue has done a pretty good job of filling in the actual minor, major, and other funky scales on this very post. Check them out.

An addition to chromaticblue's entry:

Blues scales: It's all to do with relative minors of the major scale
Note that numbers represent the degree of the scale (e.g. 1=C , 2=D in the scale of C) and 'b' means 'flatened'. So:
  • Minor blues: C, Eb, F, Gb, G, Bb, C
  • Major blues: C, D, Eb, E, G, A, C
(Although when improvising over a blueschord progression you could use both.)


The minor pentatonicscale also goes by the same rule and has a flattened third note
  • Major: 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 (e.g. C, D, E, G, A, C)
  • Minor: 1, 2, b3, 5, 6, 8 (e.g. C, D, Eb, G, A, C)

"Diminished scales are the major scale with the third and fifth notes flatted."

The way I learnt them, is that they are a sequence of whole tone, half tone. Then there are really only three of them -

C : C - D - Eb - F - F# - G# - A - B - C
C# : C# - D# - E - F# - G - A - Bb - C - C#
D : D - E - F - G - G# - A# - B - C# - D

Eb is just a rotation of C, E of C# and so on.

Of course it's a question of what's in a name, but I prefer this definition because the scale shape reflects the symmetrical. circular nature of the diminished arpeggio (which is just a sequence of minor thirds, or gaps of 3 semitones.

For added fun, you can also have a diminished scale that goes half step - whole step ... you can play the first type ascending, the second descending. I leave that as an exercise for the musical reader.

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