## What are the Degrees of the Scale?

Any note of any scale can be given a number as well as a name.

The first/last note of the scale is often called the “tonic” or “keynote”.

In the key/scale of C major, C is the tonic. In the key/scale of A minor, A is the tonic.

It’s also known as the “first degree of the scale”, because it is the first note.

## Degrees of the C Major Scale

Here’s a scale of C major ascending, with all the degrees of the scale added:

D is the 2nd degree of the scale, E is the third, and so on.

Notice that both Cs are called the “1st degree” even though the last one is higher than the first. It doesn’t matter which register (high or low) the notes are in – the name is the same.

It’s important to remember that we work out the degrees of the scale from the ascending (upwards) scale only. If we write out the descending scale, we will need to reverse the order of the numbers:

## Working Out the Degree of the Scale

To work out what degree of the scale a note is on, all you need to do is count upwards from the first note (or “tonic” or “keynote”) of the scale.

Here are two questions for you:

1) What degree of the scale of A minor harmonic is this note?

In A minor, the 4th note is D, so this is the 4th degree of the scale of A minor harmonic.

2) What note is the 7th degree of the scale of D minor harmonic?

In D minor, D is the first note. E=2, F=3, G=4, A=E, Bb=6 and C#=5. So C# is the 7th degree of the scale of D minor harmonic.

## Scale Degrees Exercises

Point your mouse at the staves or text (tap on mobile devices) to reveal the answers.

1. Name the degree of the scale (e.g. 1st , 2nd ) of each of the notes marked *.

a. The key is E minor

b. The key is G major

c. The key is D minor

d. The key is A major

e.

f.

g.

h.

i.

j.