Music Scales for Songwriters

Songwriters Music Scales Piano Major Scale

At the heart of every song is the melody.  The melody is a mix of tones and rhythmic patterns.  In order to create a melody there needs to be a musical scale.  The scale for the songwriter is like the pallet for the painter.  The painter has on the pallet various paint colors that can be mixed to create new colors that are added to the canvas to render a picture.

Think of the music scale as the raw material for a melody. The music scale is the basis for all musical theory.

The Major Scale

The major scale is a series of seven notes that follow a particular order. The order is as follows:


Think of the scale as a ladder.  The western scale has 12 tones.  Each rung is a half step (semitone) and two rungs equal a whole step (tone).  The interval pattern for the Major scale is


Where W is a whole step and H is a half step interval

The Major Scale

The Minor Scale:

Each major key has a corresponding, relative minor key. The minor key will be in the same key signature, and will contain the same notes as the major key. The only difference between the two is that the minor key simply STARTS on a different note. For example, in the key of C Major, the relevant, corresponding minor key is A minor. Which is a minor 3rd below the root

You can always find the relative minor key by counting up six notes from the root of the Major key. So in the C Major example: C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C. Hence the minor key starts on the A.

The sequence of a minor scale is different, and goes like this:

Root – Tone – Semitone – Tone – Tone –Semitone – Tone – Tone


So if as an example we use the A minor scale which is the relative minor scale of C Major, we have the following sequence of notes:


Armed with the knowledge of the notes in a musical scale will help you write melodies for your songs.  Obviously there is a lot more involved in writing a great song melody.  Having an understanding of a musical scale is a vital thing every songwriter needs to know and understand

Posted in Songwriting Basics, Songwriting Theory and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. RSS feed for this post. Leave a trackback.

Comments are closed.