The major scale in depth

The Major Scale is one of the most-often-used scales. We will take a look at this scale and its modes using Tessitura Pro by mDecks Music

If you rather watch a video here’s the entire explanation in our YouTube channel

The Major Scale = Ionian Scale

One of the main secrets of the Major Scale, which makes it so important in music, is the fact that it is built by stacking 6 consecutive Perfect Fifths

Tweet: One of the main secrets of the Major Scale is that it is built by stacking 6 consecutive Perfect Fifths.

As you can see bellow, the major scale is built with six consecutive perfect fifths. There are 7 notes in the scale (N 7) , 7 possible modes (M 7) and 12 possible transpositions (T 12). This scale does not present any transpositional symmetry. The Ionian scale is a source scale (S) since it is the most-often-used mode of this structure.


The intervalic components of this structure is:
Whole Whole Half Whole Whole Whole Half (W W H W W W H)
Remember that any major scale will follow this pattern.

The Ionian scale is composed by all major (or natural) intervals:
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7


In the key of C the scale has all the natural notes
C, D, E, F, G, A, B


We can modulate in Tessitura Pro to any key by turning the outside wheel
So here’s the F Major scale or F Ionian which has 1 flat (Bb)


The Bb Major scale: two flats (Bb and Eb)

and so on…

The main chord is a major 7th chord and the chord tones are 1, 3, 5, and 7
the tensions are 9 11 and 13. Other triads that apply to this scale are:
the Csus2, the Csus4 and the C triad


Let’s view all the modes in the Major scale.
Here are the seven modes, sorted by mode number:
1. Ionian
2. Dorian
3. Phrygian
4. Lydian
5. Mixolydian
6. Aeolian
7. Locrian



Next I will give you a few exercises to practice and learn the Ionian scale.

In each exercise we will be modulating by perfect fifths clockwise around the circle of fifths.

If you are a beginner, or you’ve never practiced the Ionian scale let’s start by practicing the first 4 notes in the scale.

In Tessitura Pro is as simple as loading the “Ostinato to practice first 4 notes” and enable the next-key auto bottom. Let’s start with a slow tempo. 120 is fine, and play eighth-notes.

Here’s the pattern in the key of C:


Tessitura Pro will automatically load the key of F next


and so on… until we get back to the key of C

Next, I suggest you practice the last 4 notes of the scale.

With these first two exercises you only have to concentrate in 4 notes of the scale at a time and you are also practicing the two tetrachords of the Ionian scale.

Ok, so now you can practice the entire scale up and down in one octave, in all keys around the circle of fifths




Finally you can practice the scale in two octaves…



and so on…

If you’ve made it this far then you’ll have a pretty good grasp of the Ionian scale.

Now, you can take it to the next level. There are plenty different patterns you should practice. Tessitura Pro comes loaded with hundreds of patterns and you should practice as many as possible, you may also create your own.
I suggest that in every practice session you choose a different pattern. Study the concept and then attempt at playing the entire pattern around the circle of fifths.

For example:
Load an ascending ladder pattern where you skip up and step down.
Remember all the notes belong to the Ionian scale in the current key and you are skipping one note up and stepping down for an entire octave.

Here it is…


Then in F

Then Bb, and so on…

If you practice a different pattern every day you will get to know the Ionian Scale at a master’s level in no time.

Enjoy and happy practice!!!

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