All music theory really begins with an understanding
of the major scale. The major scales is used as a constant to
with which other elements are compared.
Below is an important tidbit of information before
we get started.
All natural notes (A B C D E F G) are a whole
step (2 frets) apart, except between E-F and B-C which are a
half step (1 fret) apart.
A major scale is nothing more than a series of
whole steps and half steps. Writing the natural notes from C-C
will create a C major scale
The easiest way to remember the formula for a
major scale is this. There are 2 sets of
W W 1/2 separated by a W.
The W stands for whole step, and the 1/2 stands for half step.
W W 1/2 W
W W 1/2
This same pattern can be applied to any set of
8 consecutive notes. For example if the natural notes between
G-G were written, F would have to be raised a half step to F
sharp in order to create the formula needed to make a major
In the next example the notes from F-F are written.
In this case the B would have to be lowered a half step to a
B flat in order to conform to the pattern.
As I have mentioned before the major scale is
used as a constant to with other elements are compared. For
the purpose of comparison, the degrees of the major scale a
assigned numbers from 1 to 7. These numbers are the function
of the note within the scale.