The Major Scale and Writing a Song with it!

The Major Scale –

The Major Scale is a pattern of 7 notes repeating on the Octave, which is the first note again. To make the major scale use the pattern of WWHWWWH from any note. What that means is Whole step (W) such as from C to D and Half Step (H) such as C to C#. Below is an example in the key of E and A.

E (w) F# (w) G# (h) A (w) B (w) C# (w) D# (h) E

Key of A would be the same pattern starting on an A note.

A (w) B (w) C# (h) D (w) E (w) F# (w) G# (h) A

Remember that B and E are the only notes that do not have #’s.  So you would not go from A# to B#. It would be A# to C. 

Here are the notes from the A note.        A A# B C C# D D# E F F# G G#  – No #’s for the B and E. 

Numbering the notes in the Scale –

As you develop as a musician you will here people talk about the Nashville numbering system or music charts. This is a number system working off each degree of the major scale. A simple example would be saying its a 1, 6, 5 in E. If you look at the scale you would know to play an E, C#m, and B chords.

Lets write this out for the E Major Scale. 

Key of E – E (w)  F# (w)   G# (h)   A (w)    B (w)    C# (w)   D# (h)

              I         ii           iii         IV         V          vi          VII

Another way to read it would like this:

I = Root

ii = 2nd

iii = 3rd

IV = 4th

V = 5th

vi = 6th

VII = 7th 

You should have noticed the I IV V VII are CAPITALIZED and the ii iii vi are in lower case. This is because the capitalized notes are MAJOR chords while the lower case are MINOR chords. The exception is the 7th which is diminished. That is a chord rarely used in pop music. In fact most flat this note (D# to D in this case) and play it as a Major chord. It just sounds better in rock and country music. 

So now you’re probably going..ok?

Let take this info and analyse a song! 😀

Songwriting-

I chose The Beatles “With a Little Help from my Friends” since its a good tune and in the key of E.  

The E major Scale Chords:

 I = E Major

ii = F# Minor

iii = G# Minor

IV = A Major

V = B Major

vi = C# Minor

vii = D# diminished (mostly used in jazz)

The verse starts on the root chord, E Major for beats 1 & 2 and the fifth chord, B Major for beats 3 & 4. The fifth chord is usually the chord that wants to pull you back to the “I” chord. You hear this in blues music since a “12-bar” blues is made up of a I, IV, V over 12 measures(Bars). In this song the composer chose the 6th, a minor chord before returning to the 5th and resolving back home to the root chord. 

Verse = I V vi V I

The chorus raises the feel by going up one whole step to the D. Normally it would be a minor chord if you are sticking strictly to the scale but you can make it major if thats the sound you like. Remember these are theoretical rules but not set in stone. Sometimes a little change like that makes a song different enough to make it stand out. 

The remaining chords are the A chord which is the fourth, a common chord to go to or return from “I”. 

Chorus= ii(major) IV I

The bridge mellows out with a minor chord and another minor to major change. Again this is done because it adds a tension to the song and typical in pop music. Still, the root note of each chord is taken from the E major scale and musically to your ear it makes sense. 

Bridge = iii vi (major) I ii (major) IV

The Beatles -
With a Little Help from my Friends

Intro
C            D           E
Billy-------yeeeeeeeeeee Shears

Verse 1
E              B          F#m
What would you think if I sang out of tune,
          B                        E
Would you stand up and walk out on me.
E            B             F#m
Lend me your ears and I'll sing you a song,
         B                      E
And I'll try not to sing out of key.


Chorus
      D                A            E
I get by with a little help from my friends,
      D                  A            E
I get high with a little help from my friends,
         D                 A            E
Going to try with a little help from my friends.


Verse 2
E         B           F#m
What do I do when my love is away.
         B               E
(Does it worry you to be alone)
E        B           F#m
How do I feel by the end of the day
         B                          E
(Are you sad because you're on your own)


Chorus
      D                A            E
I get by with a little help from my friends,
      D                  A            E
I get high with a little help from my friends,
             D                 A            E
Hmm Gunna to try with a little help from my friends.


Bridge
       C#m     F#
Do you need anybody,
  E        D       A
I need somebody to love.
         C#m   F#
Could it be anybody
  E        D       A
I want somebody to love.


Verse 3
E         B            F#m
Would you believe in a love at first sight,
         B                               E
(Yes I'm certain that it happens all the time.)
E           B            F#m
What do you see when you turn out the light,
         B                         E
(I can't tell you, but I know it's mine.)


Chorus x1


Bridge 2
       C#m     F#
Do you need anybody,
       E        D       A
I just need somebody to love,
         C#m   F#
Could it be anybody,
      E        D       A
Ohh I want somebody to love.


Chorus
          D                A            E
Ohh I get by with a little help from my friends,
      D                 A            E
Gunna try with a little help from my friends.
          D                  A            E
Ohh I get high with a little help from my friends,


Outro
          D                A            E
Yes I get by with a little help from my friends, With a little help from my
C           D        E(down stroke once)
frieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeends.
 

For more examples and I mean 1300 more! Please check out Hook Theory for an incredible database.