C Scale

To play an ascending C scale, begin on C and play C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. To play a descending C scale, play the same pitches backwards: C, B, A, G, F, E, D, C.  







A musician can begin on any C to play a C scale. Play these eight pitches up to the next C and back down to play one octave of a C scale.


This scale has a rather familiar sound because it uses a common pattern of whole steps and half steps, making it a major scale.


The explanation of the formula for major scales is complex, and ususally takes some repetition to retain, so for today, I just want you to see that there is a repeating pattern.  


The base pattern is a sequence of four notes, called a tetrachord. Every major scale is made up of two tetrachords held together with a whole step.  





In this case, the first tetrachord is  CDEF, the second is GABC.  A tetrachord is a particular series of sizes of steps between pitches which is:  whole step, whole step, half step.


On a keyboard:

to move by a half step, play the very next key whether black or white,

to move by a whole step, you must step over a key, whether black or white, 

two half steps are equal to a whole step.











The distance from E to F is only a half step because there isn't a key between them.  The same goes for the distance between B and C.









The C major scale doesn't need any flats or sharps to complete the pattern, so on a keyboard, it is the easiest scale to remember because you will only need white keys.













The key signature for music written in the key of C will be empty because the C major scale has no flats or sharps.  Build a major scale starting on a G, and you will need to sharp the seventh note.

C scale

C    D   E    F    G    A    B    C        C    B   A   G    F    E   D   C

whole  whole  half  (whole)  whole  whole  half

tetrachord                    tetrachord

C D E F  G A B C

two half steps = whole step
half steps
whole step
half steps in C scale
C   D   E   F  G   A   B   C 
half step          half step
major scale pattern/C scale
C    D    E    F    G    A    B   C
Read Music Method workbook

Teaching children how to read music is fun and easy from day one, very first lesson, with this beginner method.

How to Read Music