A major – A Guide to the Scale and Chords

By Jade Bultitude
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A Major, Key Signature, Treble Clef

In our last scale page, we investigated the scale of D major. Remember, D major had two sharps in its key signature, F sharp and C sharp! Today I would like to visit the scale of A major! Why?

Let’s think about the circle of fifths. Make sure you check out all the information and exercises on the circle of fifths if you are not sure!

The next scale on the circle of fifths after D major is A major! A major is five tones up from D major, making this the second sharp scale on the circle!  

A major scale, A major, scale, three sharps, sharp scale

As mentioned in our C major blog, major scales always follow the same pattern of tones and semitones (steps and half steps)

This is as follows:

Tone, Tone, Semi-tone, Tone, Tone, Tone, Semi-tone

Whichever note you start on, you will always achieve the major scale starting on this note. 

The A major scale is simply this pattern but starting on the note A

A major scale, A major, scale, three sharps, sharp scale, semitone, tone, pattern, major scale pattern

As you can see, if we were to play this scale on the piano we make use of two black keys.   

What does this scale look like on the stave?

The pitches of the scale are as follows:  A B C# D E F# G#  

A major scale, A major, scale, three sharps, sharp scale, tenor clef, alto clef, treble clef, bass clef

Rather than writing the sharp signs on the individual notes, we can now make use of the key signature. Because every single F, C and G in D major is sharp, we can simply write this at the start of the piece! 

Learn More Scales!

Want to learn about another scale? We have a selection of Guides for Scales and Chords to make you a pro at music theory.

What do we mean when we say a piece is ‘in the key of A’?

If we say that a piece of music is in the key of A, this means a few things:

  • The key signature will have three sharps, these being F sharp, C sharp and G sharp!
  • The tonic (or home note) of the piece will be A! This note will sound the most stable in the whole piece
  • The piece will use notes only from this scale, these could be in any octave. 
  • The chords used will be those chords that are in A major

What are the chords of A major?

When writing out chords we always use Roman Numerals so it is important to make sure you are familiar with the Roman Numerals up to seven! 

Here are the chords of A major:

I – A major, Tonic Chord

II – B minor, Supertonic Chord

III – C# minor, Mediant Chord

IV – D major, Subdominant chord

V – E major, Dominant chord

Vi – F# minor, Sub median chord

Vii – G# diminished chord, leading note chord

What are the notes in these chords?

I – A major chord – A, C#, E

A major scale, A major, scale, three sharps, sharp scale, tonic chord, chord I

ii – B minor chord – B, D, F#

Supertonic, supertonic chord, Chord II, B minor chord

iii – C# minor chord – C#, E, G#

mediant chord, C sharp minor chord, Chord III

IV – D major chord – D, F#, A

Subdominant chord, Chord IV, D major chord

V – E major chord – E, G#, B

Dominant chord, Chord V, E major chord,

vi – F# minor chord – F#, A, C#

Submediant chord, Chord IV, F sharp minor chord

Viio – G# Diminished chord – G#, B, D

G sharp diminished chord, diminished chord, leading note, leading note chord

Why are some these chords labelled in lower case?

Chords are usually written in two different ways

Capital for MAJOR Chords

Lowercase for MINOR Chords

A famous Song in a Major

Oasis – Wonderwall is in the key of A Major.

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Jade is an experienced musician and teacher as well as being the founder of Music Theory Foundations. She has been helping people learn music theory for more than 10 years from pre school children all the way to degree level studies.