C Major scale is first of the 12 Major Diatonic scales. The notes of C Major scale are: C – D – E – F – G – A – B. It’s relative minor is A minor. C Major scale and A minor scale share the same notes. The only thing that differs is the interval and the order of the order of the notes. C Majors’ parallel scale is C minor scale which is also known as E♭ Major scale.
The table below helps you understand what role each note in C Major / A minor scale plays in building tension in music.
C Major / A minor scale Modes & Function
|Diatonic Function:||Tonic||Super Tonic||Mediant||Sub Dominant||Dominant||Sub Mediant||Leading|
|Basic Chord:||Major||minor||minor||Major||Major||relative minor||diminished|
|C Major Scale (0#):||
C is the ‘Tonic’ of C Major scale and is the most important note in this scale. The C note set the tone of the song and as the melody progress away from C towards the ‘Dominant’ G (the highest point of the scale) it ultimately resolves back to the ‘Tonic’. That brings us to the second most important note which is G.
The G note in C Major scale is the Dominant and its position in this scale gives it the most tense feeling. After reaching the highest point then the melody can progress back to C where the listener is taken to a familiar place where the rollercoaster begins again. It is quite common to change to G ‘Mixolydian’ mode in the chorus or bridge.
Another important note is the A note which is the ‘relative minor’. The ‘relative minor’ in this case is A minor scale. The A minor scale is like another way to worship the ‘Dominant’. So instead of beginning and revolving around C you may chose to revolve around A which has a minor and a more mellow sound as oppose to the C which has a little bit more uplifting neutral sound. Just as the C Major scale can have a parallel scale so can the A minor scale. A Major scale is A minors’ parallel scale.
A Mode that often gets overlooked is the ‘Phrygian’ mode. E is the ‘Mediant’ in C Major scale. This means that E is the halfway point between the ‘Tonic’ C and the “Dominant’ G. I often begin my chord progression is ‘Phrygian’ mode because of its higher pitch. E ‘Phrygian’ makes C ‘Ionian’ sound neutral and A ‘Aeolian’ sound sad. Because E is closer to G and in fact has a ‘G’ as its 3rd note E minor. Revolving you’re song around a chord that has ‘Dominant’ (G) in its basic chord, especially as it’s 3rd, gives the listener constant excitement and creates a different kind of tension when you move away from the ‘Dominant G’.
The D ‘Dorian’ is like the Great Value ‘Tonic’ of C Major scale. It’s called the ‘Super Tonic’ but it’s only a ‘Tonic’ because if you play every other note starting from C (C – E – G – B – D) when you get to the next octave the first note you play in the next octave is D. If you keep going you’ll eventually end up back at C (C – E – G – B – D – F – A – C). The D serves as a higher new ‘Tonic’. D is also the same distance from above the ‘Dominant’ as the ‘Tonic’ is below the ‘Dominant’. There are 3 notes between C & G (D – E – F) and 3 notes in between G & D (A – B – C).
C Major Scale Piano
C Major Scale Guitar
C Major Scale Bass
C Major Scale Soprano, Concert & Tenor Ukulele
C Major Scale Baritone Ukulele
C Major Scale Banjo
C Major Scale Mandolin
C Major Scale Violin & Fiddle
C Major Scale Viola & Cello
C Major Scale Double Bass
I – C Major | C5 | CMaj7 | CMaj9 | CMaj13 | Csus4 | CMaj(add 9)
ii – D minor | D5 | Dmin6 | Dmin69 | Dmin7 | Dmin9 | Dmin13 | Dmin(add9) | Dmin(add11) | Dsus4 | D7sus4 | D9sus4
iii – E minor | E5 | Emin7 | E min(add 11) | Esus4 | E7sus4
IV – F Major | F5 | FMaj7 | FMaj9 | FMaj13 | FMaj(add 9) | FMaj7#11
V – G Major | G5 | Gdom7 | G9 | G11 | G13 | G(add 9) | Gsus4 | G7sus4 | G9sus4
vi – A minor | A5 | Amin7 | Amin9 | Amin(add 9) | Amin(add 11) | Asus4 | A7sus4 | A9sus4
vii° – B diminished