C Major Scale

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C Major scale is a scale that begins on C, and ends with C. This is the easiest key as there are no key signature – no sharp or flat. The minor key with the same key signature as C Major is A minor.

C Major Key Signature

Here’s the key signature for C Major. Notice that it has no flats or sharps.

Notes in the Scale of C Major

When we play a scale, we usually start off with an ascending scale (the notes get higher), followed by descending scale (the notes get lower).

Ascending scale of C Major: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C

Descending scale of C Major: C, B, A, G, F, E, D, C

Degrees of the Scale

Degrees of the scale refers to the number we assign to each note of a scale. When we are assigning degrees of a scale, we look at the scale in ascending order. Here are the notes for the various degrees of the C Major scale:

1st degree: C

2nd degree: D

3rd degree: E

4th degree: F

5th degree: G

6th degree: A

7th degree: B

Technical Names of Notes in C Major

Instead of using the degree of the scale, we can also use technical names of notes.

tonic – C

supertonic – D

mediant – E

subdominant – F

dominant – G

submediant – A

Semitones and Tones

In all major scales, they follow this:

Most adjacent pairs of notes in the major scale are a tone apart, except for the 3rd to 4th note, and the 7th to the 8th note. This doesn’t apply just to C Major scale, but for ALL major scales. By knowing the distance between the notes in a Major scale, we can form any major scale even if we do not know its key signature.

In this case, the semitones are found here:

• From E to F (3rd to 4th note)
• From B to C (7th to 8th note)

C Major on different clefs.

Here’s how the C Major scales look like (starting from middle C or C4) in treble clef. I’ve also included the fingerings:

Here’s how the C Major scales look like (starting from C one octave lower than middle C or C3) in bass clef. I’ve also included the fingerings:

Here’s how the C Major scales look like in alto clef (starting from middle C or C4).

Here’s how the C Major scales look like in tenor clef (starting from middle C or C4).

How to play the C Major scale on the piano

To play the C Major scale on the piano with right hand, you’ll start with your thumb.

The fingerings for the right hand part of the C Major scale are:

C – 1/ 5 (only use the 5th finger for the highest note of C, the rest of the C note, you’ll be using your thumb).

D – 2

E – 3

F – 1

G -2

A – 3

B – 4

The fingerings for the left hand part of the C Major scale are:

C – 1/5 (only use the 5th finger for the lowest note of C, the rest of the C note, you’ll be using your 1st finger or thumb).

D – 4

E – 3

F – 2

G -1

A – 3

B – 2