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|Modes||I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII|
|C, D, E, F, G, A, B|
|Number of pitch classes||7|
The major scale (or Ionian mode) is one of the most commonly used musical scales, especially in Western music. It is one of the diatonic scales. Like many musical scales, it is made up of seven notes: the eighth duplicates the first at double its frequency so that it is called a higher octave of the same note (from Latin "octavus", the eighth).
The intervals from the tonic (keynote) in an upward direction to the second, to the third, to the sixth, and to the seventh scale degrees of a major scale are called major.
- whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half
The major scale is maximally even.
The scale degrees are:
- 1st: Tonic
- 2nd: Supertonic
- 3rd: Mediant
- 4th: Subdominant
- 5th: Dominant
- 6th: Submediant
- 7th: Leading tone
- 8th: Tonic
The triads built on each scale degree follow a distinct pattern. The roman numeral analysis is shown in parentheses.
- 1st: Major triad (I)
- 2nd: minor triad (ii)
- 3rd: minor triad (iii)
- 4th: Major triad (IV)
- 5th: Major triad (V)
- 6th: minor triad (vi)
- 7th: diminished triad (viio)
Relationship to major keys
If a piece of music (or part of a piece of music) is in a major key, then the notes in the corresponding major scale are considered diatonic notes, while the notes outside the major scale are considered chromatic notes. Moreover, the key signature of the piece of music (or section) will generally reflect the accidentals in the corresponding major scale.
For instance, if a piece of music is in E♭ major, then the seven pitches in the E♭ major scale (E♭, F, G, A♭, B♭, C and D) are considered diatonic pitches, and the other five pitches (E♮, F♯/G♭, A♮, B♮, and C♯/D♭) are considered chromatic pitches. In this case, the key signature will have three flats (B♭, E♭, and A♭).
The figure below shows all 12 relative major and minor keys, with major keys on the outside and minor keys on the inside arranged around the circle of fifths.
The numbers inside the circle show the number of sharps or flats in the key signature, with the sharp keys going clockwise, and the flat keys counterclockwise from C major (which has no sharps or flats.) The circular arrangement depends on enharmonic relationships in the circle, usually reckoned at six sharps or flats for the major keys of F♯ = G♭ and D♯ = E♭ for minor keys. Seven sharps or flats make major keys (C♯ major or C♭ major) that may be more conveniently spelled with five flats or sharps (as D♭ major or B major).
The term "major scale" is also used in the names of some other scales whose first, third, and fifth degrees form a major triad.
There are two scales that go by the name melodic major scale:
The first is the fifth mode of the jazz minor scale, which can be thought of as the major scale (Ionian mode) with a lowered sixth and seventh degree or the natural minor scale (Aeolian mode) with a raised third.
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