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Major Scales

All scales have something in common; they have a defined pattern of tones and semitones. All major scales are made up with the following pattern, where T=tone and S=semitone:

T – T – S – T – T – T – S  

The major scales in keys with up to five sharps/flats in them were introduced in earlier lessons. In this lesson we will learn two new major scales: Gb and F# major.

F# Major

In the F# major scale there are six sharps, F#, C#, G#, D#, A# and E#. The leading note, E#, is an enharmonic equivalent of F natural, but only E# can be used when writing the scale of F# major. This is so that the player can more easily identify the purpose of the note, as the leading note (which generally moves to the tonic next).

F# major semitones

Here are the ascending and descending F# major scales in treble and bass clefs.

F# major scales

The key signature for F# major has six sharps. E# is placed higher than A#.

F# major key signature

It is quite rare to find pieces of music written in F# major, but one example is this Prelude, from Bach’s Well-Tempered Klavier Book 1.

Bach Prelude in F# major

G Flat Major

In Gb major, the pattern of tones and semitones means the scale has six flats, Eb, Ab, Bb, Db, Gb and Cb. Cb is an enharmonic equivalent of B natural, but we must use the correct spelling in scales and music written in Gb major. Don’t forget to include a flat symbol on the last note of the scale, as well as the first (if there is no key signature).

Notice how, in the Gb major scale, all the notes are flat, except the 7th, which is natural. Compare this to the scale of G major, where all the notes are natural, except the 7th which is sharp. (This can help you to remember how to write the Gb scale correctly).

Gb major scale semitones

Here are the ascending and descending Gb major scales in treble and bass clefs.

Gb major scales

The key signature for Gb major has six flats. Notice that the pattern of low and high flats on the stave continues, with Cb placed higher than Gb.

Gb major key signature

Gb major and F# major are enharmonic equivalents – they use exactly the same notes, but spelled in different ways.

Like F# major, the key of Gb major isn’t seen very often in music, although it’s probably slightly more common than F# major.

Here is the opening of a piano Berceuse (lullaby) in Gb major, by Ilinsky, a 19th century Russian composer.

Ilinsky Gb major