- 1 Structure of the major and the natural minor scale
- 2 Construction of the scales with accidentals
- 3 Harmonic minor scale
- 4 Melodic minor scale
- 5 Circle of fifths and circle of fourths
- 6 Church scales
- 7 Names of the degrees in the scale
- 8 Violin scale books
The scales are built from the intervals. For the introduction to the intervals see the article Intervals on the violin.
Structure of the major and the natural minor scale
For understanding the scales it is important to remember where the whole tones and semitones in the scale are located. The semitones in the major scale are on the third and seventh degree. The semitones in the natural minor scale are on the second and fifth degree.
C Major scale
A Minor scale
Chart of the whole tones and semitones in the major and the natural minor scales
Each major scale has a corresponding relative natural minor scale (aeolian) containing the same tones as the major scale. The relative natural minor scale can be created from the major scale by starting on the sixth degree of the major scale and continuing for the whole octave.
The major and minor scales starting on the same tone (for example C major and C minor) are called the parallel scales.
Construction of the scales with accidentals
C Major has no accidentals, sharps (♯) or flats (♭). The scales with accidentals can be constructed from the C Major scale.
The major scales with sharps
The major scale with sharps (♯) can be created by starting on the fifth degree (walking the circle of fifths) of the major scale and by raising the seventh degree of the newly created scale. For example, using the C major scale, by starting on the fifth degree, G and raising the seventh degree of the new scale F to F sharp, the G major scale is created.
Accidentals in the major scales with sharps
The major scales with flats
The major scale with flats (♭) can be created by starting on the fourth degree (walking the circle of fourths) of the major scale and by lowering the fourth degree of the newly created scale. For example, using the C major scale, by starting on the fourth degree, F and lowering the fourth degree of the new scale B to B flat, the F major scale is created.
Accidentals in the major scales with flats
Natural minor scales
The relative natural minor scales with accidentals can be created from the corresponding major scale by starting on the sixth degree of the major scale.
The minor scales with sharps
Accidentals in the minor scales with sharps
The minor scales with flats
Accidentals in the minor scales with flats
Harmonic minor scale
A Minor scale (natural - aeolian)
The natural minor scale has not got the feeling of the leading tone as the seventh degree is the whole tone down from the tonic. The harmonic minor scale is created from the natural minor scale by raising the seventh degree by semitone. The harmonic minor scale is the same both ascending and descending.
A Minor scale (harmonic)
Melodic minor scale
The harmonic minor scale has a big distance between the sixth and seventh degrees so that the sixth degree was raised and the melodic minor scale was created. The melodic minor scale uses the raised sixth and seventh degrees when ascending, when descending the natural minor scale is used.
A Minor scale (melodic)
Chart comparing the natural, harmonic and melodic minor scales
Circle of fifths and circle of fourths
The summary of relationships between the major and minor scales in the circle of fifths (clockwise) and the circle of fourths (anticlockwise) and the table with the number of sharps and flats for each major and minor scale up to seven accidentals.
|The table indicates the number of sharps or flats in each scale. Minor scales are written in lower case.|
The modern major and minor scales were derived from the Church scales, the major scale is identical with the Ionian scale, the natural minor scale with the Aeolian scale.
Chart showing the structure of the Church scales
Names of the degrees in the scale
- I. Tonic
- II. Supertonic
- III. Mediant
- IV. Subdominant
- V. Dominant
- VI. Submediant
- VII. Leading note
Violin scale books
- Elementary Scales and Bowings for Strings. Violin 
- Scales in First Position for Violin 
- Intermediate Scales and Bowings for Strings. Violin 
- Scale Studies (One String) for the Violin, Part One: One-Octave Scales (2007) 
- First Position Scale Studies for the Violin, Book One (2017) 
- The Two Octaves Book for Violin (2015) 
- Octave Scale Studies for the Violin, Book One (2014) 
- 24 Scales and Melodies, Op. 115
- Neue Tonleiterstudien für Violine