Frequent scales Modes Other scales
A scale is any group of musical notes ordered by pitch, either ascending or descending. Scales are defined by both the number of notes they have, and by the intervals between these notes. An interval is the distance between two notes, and they can be classified as Whole-tones, or Half-tones (the equivalent of one or two guitar frets respectively).
Based on these interval patterns, scales can be classified into categories such as diatonic (of seven notes), chromatic (made up entirely of semitones), etc. Specific scales will be named taking into account their interval patterns, as well as their first degree (roughly the first note of the scale), also called tonic. For example, E major features the interval pattern of a major scale (WWHWWWH) starting from the note E.
Each scale is a selection of sounds determined through an interval pattern. Because of this selection, scales usually convey a very particular and identifiable 'sound'. Usually, a musical work or song will be constructed using a single scale (or alternating between scales that are somehow related). These can be conveniently noted by means of a key signature at the beginning of the score. Learn more about scales using our scale finder tool.