This is the ‘bread and butter’ of Western music. It consist of 7 notes derived from the 12 note chromatic scale. We can use the chromatic scale to find the notes of any major scale/ key using a very simple method. Lets look at the chromatic scale again:
I. The distance between A and A#Bb is a semitone or half step (one fret).
II. The distance between A and B is a tone or wholestep (twofrets). III. Once we get to G#/Ab the notes cycle back round to A again.
To find the notes of a major scale/key all we need to do is follow this simple formula for the intervallic sequence:
tone - tone - semitone - tone - tone - tone - semitone
To make it simpler to read lets abbreviate it:
This method works for all keys but for this example, lets work out the notes for the key of Aor A major:
A Major= A B C# D E F# G#A
Lets translate this on the fretboard:
If you have understood the concept and had a go working out some scales for yourself.
I recommend getting a pencil and some paper to work out other scales.
Write down the 12 notes, then use the T-T-S-T-T-T-S formula starting from the note of your choice. Check the table below to see if you got them right:
You may be asking yourself “How do you know whether to name a note sharp (#) or flat (b)?”. The answer to this is simple. If we take the key of F as an example, it makes logical sense to call the note Bb instead of A# because we already have an A note within the scale:
F G A BbC D E F
Much easier to read and understand than:
F G A A# C D E F
Hope that makes sense to you. Let me know how useful you have found this in the comments section and feel free to ask questions.
The AB Guide to Music Theory Vol 1
Chords And Scales For Guitarists
Ultimate Scale Book Pocket Guide Guitar Tab Book
Guitar Fretboard Fluency: The Creative Guide to Mastering The Guitar