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There are various in-depth and very involved explanations on what scales are.  To read a few of the definitions, simply click on the links below.  They are informative and should be examined, reviewed, and applied in any musicians playing repertoire.  To simplify, I will quote from the Harvard Concise Dictionary which says:

A scale is “the underlying tonal material of some particular music, arranged in an order of rising pitches … The basic scale of European art music is the diatonic scale.  It consists of five whole tones (t) and two semitones (s) in the following arrangement: t t s t t t s (e.g., c d e f g a b c’).  This scale is usually referred to as a major scale (in this illustration, the C major scale) as distinguished from the pure minor scale, in which the arrangement of intervals is: t s t t s t t (e.g., c d e(b) f g a(b) b(b) c’)…” (in this case the (b) symbol represents flats).

Essentially, you have notes played one after another in order in a pattern (in the most basic form it is alphabetically – A – G) moving up and down the piano.

For a more in-depth explanation, click on these examples:

Wikipedia describes a Scale

Wikipedia describes Diatonic Scales

Wikipedia describes Chromatic Scales

Wikipedia describes Whole Tone Scales

Wikipedia describes Pitch Classes

Wikipedia describes Pentatonic Scales

Wikipedia describes Hexatonic Scales

Wikipedia describes the Octatonic Scales

Wikipedia describes Minor Scales

Wikipedia describes Harmonic Minor Scales

Wikipedia describes Melodic Minor Scales

Wikipedia describes Jazz Scales

Wikipedia describes Modes of the Major Scales

Wikipedia describes Phrygian Dominant Scales

Wikipedia describes Bebop Scales

Wikipedia describes the Chord-Scale System

Wikipedia describes Microtonal Scales

Wikipedia describes Hungarian Minor Scales

Wikipedia describes Arabic Scales

You may also visit these sites to create various scales and modes:

Scales and Modes from A Passion for Jazz

Scale Fingering

Scales and Chords for piano from a Passion for Jazz

In addition, as a resource for piano teachers and piano students, Music Motivation® has several FREE downloadable PDF resources available on this blog website.

If you know of any other additional resources and website links you would like included on this page, please email Music Motivation® at

Copyright © 2009 Music Motivation®
All Rights Reserved


2 responses

  1. This is a outstanding post, but I was wondering how do I suscribe to the RSS feed?

    April 3, 2010 at 5:29 pm

    • On the right side of the blog (the sidebar on the right) you will find a Subscribe in RSS box (below the “Music Motivation in the News” links). Simply click on Subscribe in a Reader and you should be able to subscribe to the RSS feed. Let me know if that works. If not, let me know and I’ll send you a link. Thanks.

      April 3, 2010 at 11:12 pm

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