Bb major Scale Explained – A Music Theory Guide

By Jade Bultitude
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Learning your scales is so important and the Bb major scale is no exception. In this major scale the first note is Bb. This scale also includes two flats and does not include a sharp. The Bb major scale includes the notes Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb. In this post we will expand your knowledge of the Bb major scale and it’s chords in detail so that you have a strong overview of what this scale is, the scale degree names, intervals within the scale, how to recognize music written in this scale, what it sounds like and what it looks like in the bass clef, treble clef, alto clef and tenor clef staves and much more!

Learn all your major scales with our free major scale worksheets.

Want to learn about different scales and keys? Have a look at our Complete Guide to Scales and Key Signatures.

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Where do I start when learning the B flat major scale?

The best place to start when thinking about scales is the circle of fifths.

To know more about the circle of fifths, make sure to check out all the information and exercises on this website about the circle of fifths if you are not completely sure on what the circle is and how it works.

The starting point on the circle of fifths is C major because there are no sharps or flats within this scale.

Bb major is the second scale to the left of C major, on the circle of fifths, meaning that it will have two flats. These flats are B flat and E flat.

circle of fifths, B flat major, Bb major, circle

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

This is as follows:

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

Whole Step, Whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, whole step, half step

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

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

B flat major scale, semitones, tones, Bb major stave

What does the B flat major scale look like on the piano keyboard?

Below you can see what the Bb major scale looks like on the piano keyboard!

B flat major, keyboard, Bb major keyboard

As you can see, if we were to play this scale on the piano keyboard we make use of just one black key with the rest of the notes being played in white keys.  

What does the B flat major scale look like on the stave?

What does this scale look like on the stave?

The pitches/note names of the scale are as follows:  Bb C D Eb F G A Bb  

Below you can see the Bb major scale written on the treble clef, bass clef, alto clef and tenor clef.

Bb major. treble clef, alto clef, tenor clef, bass clef,

Rather than writing the flat signs on the individual notes, we can now make use of the key signature. Because every single B and E are flat, we can simply write this at the start of the piece! 

Above we have written one octave of Bb major. It is important to note that this can also be written an octave higher or even an octave lower!

B flat major octave down, B flat major on stave

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Scale degree names in B flat major

As with all scales, each note name is not only given a letter but it is also labelled with a number. We call this number a scale degree.

The scale degrees are as follows:

B flat major scale degree names, scale degrees, B flat major

Alongside the scale degrees we can also give each letter a name!

Bb – tonic

C – Supertonic

D -Mediant

Eb – Subdominant

F – dominant

G – submediant

A – leading note/leading tone

Bb – tonic

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

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

  • The key signature will have two flat symbols, these being B flat and E flat.
  • The tonic (or home note) of the piece will be Bb! 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 Bb major

What are the chords of B flat 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 F major:

I – Bb major, Tonic Chord

II – C minor, Supertonic Chord

III – D minor, Mediant Chord

IV – Eb major, Subdominant chord

V – F major, Dominant chord

Vi – G minor, Sub median chord

Vii – A diminished chord, leading note chord

What are the notes in these chords?

I – Bb major chord – Bb, D, F

B flat major chord I, Chord I, tonic chord

ii – C minor chord – C, Eb, G

Chord II, C minor chord

iii – D minor chord – D, F, A

Chord II, D minor chord

IV – Eb major chord – Eb, G, Bb

Chord IV, Eb major chord, Subdominant chord

V – F major chord – F, A, C

Chord V, F major chord, Dominant Chord

vi – G minor chord – G, Bb, D

Chord VI, G minor Chord, Submediant chord

Viio – A Diminished chord – A, C, Eb

Chord VII, A diminished chord

For more on this, see our in-depth guide to chords in B flat Major.

Why are some of these chords labelled in lower case?

Chords are usually written in two different ways

Capital for MAJOR Chords

Lowercase for MINOR Chords

To know more about chords then make sure to click here!

What is the relative minor of the B flat major scale?

Remember, all major scales have relative minor scales. The relative minor scale to the B flat major scale is the G minor scale. The G minor scale uses the same notes as the B flat major scale but it starts on G! This means the pattern of tones and semitones (whole steps and half steps) will be slightly different.

The notes in G natural minor are: G, A, Bb, C, D, Eb, F, G

To learn more about the G minor scale make sure to check out our minor scale worksheets!

I hope that has helped your understanding further of the scale of B flat major!

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Songs in Bb Major

Katy Perry – Roar

Prince – Purple Rain

Elton John – Can You Feel the Love Tonight

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Jade is a flute player and music educator with a passion for educating the next generation of musicians. She is a Masters Graduate from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. Jade has been helping people learn music theory for more than 10 years from pre school children all the way to degree level studies.