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
leading note – B
Semitones and Tones
In all major scales, they follow this:
|Pairs of notes||Tone or semitone apart?|
|1st -> 2nd||tone|
|2nd -> 3rd||tone|
|3rd -> 4th||semitone|
|4th -> 5th||tone|
|5th -> 6th||tone|
|6th -> 7th||tone|
|7th -> 8th||semitone|
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
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
A – 3
B – 2