The C major scale is one of the simplest scales (or keys) you can learn. It is perhaps one of the most common key signatures in western music… precisely because it has no sharps or flats in the key signature!
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 C major scale is simply this pattern but starting on the note C
As you can see if we were to play this scale on the piano we just use the white keys!
What does this scale look like on the stave?
The pitches of the scale are as follows: C D E F G A B
What do we mean when we say a piece is ‘in the key of C’?
If we say that a piece of music is in the key of C, this means a few things:
- The key signature will have no sharps or flats
- The tonic (or home note) of the piece will be C! 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 C major
What are the chords of C major scale?
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 C major:
I – C major, Tonic Chord
ii – D minor, Supertonic Chord
iii – E minor, Mediant Chord
IV – F major, Subdominant chord
V – G major, Dominant chord
vi – A minor, Sub mediant chord
viio – B diminished chord, Leading note chord
What are the notes in these chords of the C major scale?
I – C major chord – C, E, G
ii – D minor chord – D, F, A
iii – E minor chord – E, G, B
IV – F major chord – F, A, C
V – G major chord – G, B, D
vi – A minor chord – A, C, E
viio– B Diminished chord – B, D, F
Why are some these chords labelled in lower case?
Chords are usually written in two different ways
Capital for MAJOR Chords
Lowercase for MINOR/DIMINISHED Chords
I hope that helps your understanding of C major further! Don’t forget to check out my other blog posts here!
Learn More about Scales
Check out our other guides to all major and minor scales.
A Famous Songs in C Major
Led Zeppelin – Stairway to Heaven
The Beatles – Let it Be
Kansas- Carry on My Wayward Son