In this new installment of my Music Lesson series, we will learn just one important thing. If you have not yet digested the first installment, stop reading this and keep working on that. You now hopefully are familiar with half-steps and whole-steps and it is time to think about the major scale. A basic hummable melody that you might hear in America or Europe (not a blues, nothing described as a "haunting minor key melody," certainly nothing that sounds Arabic or Indian) probably uses the major scale. Think "Twinkle twinkle little star" or "I have a little Dreidel" or "Stars and Stripes Forever" or "Mama hated diesels." What is a major scale? Consider the piano keyboard diagram again:A piano is, among other things, a giant audio-visual aid, teaching you about the major scale. Look at the series of just the white keys, starting with any "C": CDEFGABC If we describe that series of notes by its intervals, it looks like this:
Whole-step, Whole-step, Half-step--Whole-step--Whole-step, Whole-step, Half-step.
It might help to picture it like this: C _ D _ E * F [_] G _ A _ B * C
The "*" is a half-step and everything else (all those underscores) is a whole step. The half-steps, as we have pointed out before, fall between E and F and also B and C. (If you noticed that the eight notes of this pattern can be broken down into two groups of four notes, each going whole-whole-half, give yourself a high five and play three seconds of air guitar.) This scale is called C-Major because it is a major scale that starts on C. If you know how to sing "Do-re-mi-fa-sol-la-ti-do," that's how it sounds.
(If it started on G it would go G A B C D E F# G. "F#" means "F-sharp." We play the black key to the right of the F instead of the F itself because a major scale always ends with a half step and always has a whole step before that final half-step. Sharping the F, playing that black key instead, accomplishes both things.)
Let's stop there. You might even want to stop before that last explanation of how G-major is constructed. I called all that "one thing," but it took some explaining. Make sure you have learned what we have covered so far before going on. Every new thing you learn at this stage adds a whole new dimension to your understanding of music.