Harmony in 21 Lessons

by Cheryl Macomber
Glenda Macomber

Pastor Clinton Macomber
Website and Graphics

© Copyright 1992, 2010

For the Table of Contents
use the Harmony menu above.

Harmony Logo

Lesson 1—The Scale

In writing music there are many things to study, as counterpoint, theory, harmony, and rhythm. In the past, when most of our hymns were written, these subjects were more common.

In the next few lessons we will study what the singing schools of our country taught about writing hymns.

In this first lesson we will cover what scales and intervals are. A scale is a series of eight tones made up of certain intervals. An interval is the difference in pitch between tones.

We will look at the C scale to discover a major scale and two kinds of intervals.

C Scale on piano keys

The C major scale covers from C to C on the piano.

C Scale

It has eight tones and is called a major scale, because it has a series of whole and half steps in a certain order.

First, we must discover what are whole and half steps. We can do this by looking at the piano keys. Below are the keys from C to C.

From C to D is one whole step, because there is a black key between C and D. From E to F is a half-step because there is no note between E and F. If there is any black or white key between two notes, the interval is a whole step. If there are no keys between two notes, the interval is a half-step.

Now, we call from C to C on the piano a major scale, because there is a pattern of whole, whole, half, whole, whole, whole, half steps. This pattern is in all the major scales. On the piano keys below find the pattern of w, w, h, w, w, w, h intervals.

C Scale

C Scale Steps Quiz

Try finding the same pattern of intervals in the G major scale. It is a series of eight tones starting at G and ending at G. Note the G major scale has an F# note in it to make it a major scale.

G Scale

G Scale on Piano

Find the same pattern of steps in the D major scale. Note that there is an F# and C# to make it a major scale.

D Scale

D Scale on Piano

Answer Instructions

Click on the following "Answers" tab when you are ready to see the answers.


C Scale on Piano whole and half steps