Major Scales, Intervals, Stable Degrees, Turns (Lesson 3)

At this stage we will continue studying major scales, or more precisely, the rest of major scales, which begin with white keys. I hope, that you have already grew familiar with piano keyboard and solfège enough, as now we`ll have to play scales, which are written with notes.

In the lesson №2 you`ve learned about C major, F major and G major scales. There are only 4 scales left: D, E, A and B major. All of them are played according to the scheme, that you already know: Tone – tone –semitone – tone – tone – tone – semitone. The difference between them is what black keys (sharps or flats) will be used in this or that scale.

First try to play them by ear, using the rule: 2 tones – semitone – 3 tones – semitone.

Major scales scheme

major scale formula

D major

d major scale treble clef

In this tonality we use 2 black keys – F sharp and C sharp:
D major on piano keyboard

E major

E major scale

E major on piano keyboard

A major

A major scale treble clef

A major scale on piano keyboaed

B major

b major scale treble clef


b major scale on piano keyboard

You have only to learn scales and play them fast and rhythmically. Practice, practice and practice!


Intervals are distances between two notes. Without knowing them you`ll not be able to improvise later.
Let me remind you: to play a semitone move on one key, to play a tone – on two.

Number of tones Names of intervals
0 Perfect unison
0,5 Minor second
1 Major second
1,5 Minor third
2 Major third
2,5 Perfect fourth
3 Major fourth
3,5 Perfect fifth
4 Minor sixth
4,5 Major sixth
5 Minor seventh
5,5 Major seventh
6 Perfect octave


This is how the intervals look like on the staff (from tonic to octave)

intervals from tonic to octave treble clef

In music-schools pupils are offered to define intervals on ear. Of course it is impossible at home, but you may try to remember how this or that interval sounds when you play them. At music-schools are also practiced note dictations and singing to educate pupils`  ears for music. The teacher plays notes and pupils first have to understand what he played – the scale, stable or unstable notes or turns (later there  will be much more variants), than pupils have to define the number of notes in the bar, place all bar lines. Finally, they have to make a transposition (for example rewrite the whole dictation from C major to B major).

Stable degrees

Stable degrees (or stable notes) are necessary for building chords. 1st, 3rd and 5th degrees of this or that scale are considered stable. For C major scale they are: C, E, G, for D major:  D,  F sharp, A respectively.


Turns  are very simple things. You just have to sing neighboring notes of given one. You can do upwards and downwards.

For example, for C it looks like this: upwards – B-D-C and downwards – D-B-C.

For D: upwards – C sharp (you don`t need to sing the word “sharp”)-E-D and downwards –  E-C-sharp-D.

Regrettably, this is the situation, when a teacher would be very helpful. But if it`s not possible for you to find one, let it be just some general knowledge of such useful things. Pay special attention to intervals and stable degrees,  you`ll not do without them later. Don`t forget to practice scales – it`s you way to success.

If you are a diligent pupil and after hours of training you`ve learned this lesson – welcome to our next lesson.