C Major Scale: A Complete Guide

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Learning about C major scale? In this post, we’ve put together a complete guide to everything you need to know when learning about the scale.

We’ll be looking at the notes of C major scale, what it looks like in the treble, bass, alto, and tenor clefs, the degrees of the scale, its key signature, and lots more. Let’s get started.

Notes in C Major Scale

The C major scale is made up of seven notes starting on C (which is known as the keynote). It then follows the major scale formula of whole and half steps.

Those notes are: C D E F G A B

As you can see, it has no sharps or flats and just uses all the white notes on the piano.

C Major in the Treble Clef

Here are all the notes of C major scale in the treble clef, ascending and descending.

C Major Scale Ascending in the Treble Clef
C Major Scale Descending in the Treble Clef

C Major in the Bass Clef

Next, we have all the notes of C major scale in the bass clef, ascending and descending.

C Major Scale Ascending in the Bass Clef
C Major Scale Descending in the Bass Clef

C Major in the Alto Clef

Here are all the notes of C major scale in the alto clef, ascending and descending.

C Major Scale Ascending in the Alto Clef
C Major Scale Descending in the Alto Clef

C Major in the Tenor Clef

And last of the clefs, here are all the notes of C major scale in the tenor clef, ascending and descending.

C Major Scale Ascending in the Tenor Clef
C Major Scale Descending in the Tenor Clef

C Major Scale Formula

Like every major scale, C major follows a certain formula of whole and half steps which is:

Whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step.

This is abbreviated to W W H W W W H.

C Major Scale With Whole and Half Steps

Using the British terminology of tones and semitones, this would be:

Tone, tone, semitone, tone, tone, tone, semitone

Which gets abbreviated to T T S T T T S.

C Major Scale With Tones and Semitones

C Major Scale Degrees and Technical Names

In music theory, we can refer to each note of a scale by numbers which we call the degrees of a scale.

The first note is the 1st degree, the second is the 2nd degree, the third note is the 3rd degree, etc.

But, each scale degree has another name which is called the technical names of the scale.

Here are the technical names and scale degrees of C major scale.

  • 1st – Tonic – C
  • 2nd – Supertonic – D
  • 3rd – Mediant – E
  • 4th – Subdominant – F
  • 5th – Dominant – G
  • 6th – Submediant – A
  • 7th – Leading tone – B

C Major Key Signature

To make playing in a certain key easier for the musician to read, we can use a key signature. This helps us know to play certain notes sharp or flat.

But C major has no sharps or flats in its key signature. It’s the only major key without any.

C Major Key Signature

What is the Relative Minor of C Major?

Every major key has a relative minor key. What makes them related is that they both share the same key signature.

The relative minor key of C major is A Minor.

Here is A natural minor scale, which uses all the same notes as C major but starts on A, which is its keynote: A B C D E F G

A Natural Minor Scale Ascending in the Treble Clef
A Natural Minor Scale Descending in the Treble Clef

But how do we know that A minor is the relative minor of C major? Well, to work out the relative minor key of a major one, all we have to do is go down three half steps (semitones).

So from C, we go down one half step to B, a second half step to Bb, and a third half step to A: C > B > Bb > A

Conclusion

That’s it for the scale of C major! We hope it helped make a bit more sense of everything.

Feel free to use this post as a reference when referring to the notes of C major scale.

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Written by Dan Farrant
Dan Farrant, the founder of Hello Music Theory, has been teaching music for over 15 years, helping hundreds of thousands of students unlock the joy of music. He graduated from The Royal Academy of Music in 2012 and then launched Hello Music Theory in 2014. Since then, he's been working to make music theory easy for over 1 million students in over 80 countries around the world.