You should already be familiar with the scales of C, G, D, A, F, Bb and Eb major, which have up to 3 flats/sharps in them.

In this lesson we will learn E major (4 sharps) and Ab (4 flats).

All major scales are built using this pattern of tones (T) (whole steps) and semitones (S) (half steps):

T-T-S-T-T-T-S.

E major has four sharps:

F#, C#, G# and D#.

If you look closely you’ll discover that each sharp is exactly one 5th higher than the previous one.

Start at F(#) and count 5 notes, and you will arrive at C(#):

F, G, A, B, C.

Then start at C and count up 5 notes and you will arrive at G(#)

C, D, E, F, G.

Start at G and count up 5 notes and you arrive at D(#):

G, A, B, C, D

This is an easy way to remember the order of sharps – this is the beginning of the “circle of 5ths” (because if you keep on going, you’ll eventually end up back at the beginning!)

Here’s the scale of E major, ascending and descending, in treble and bass clef:

The other new major scale we’re going to learn is Ab major.

Ab has four flats – Bb, Eb, Ab, and Db.

An easy way to remember the order of flats is to count down five notes from the first one. The first flat is Bb:

B, A, G, F, E.
E, D, C, B, A.
A, G, F, E, D

The circle of 5ths works in both directions – if you count upwards, you get the order of sharps. If you count downwards, you get the order of flats!

Here is the scale of Ab major, ascending and descending in treble and bass clef:

Also, you could just learn the word “BEAD” which spells the flats in order!

## Scales Exercises

Hover your mouse over the questions (tap on mobiles) to reveal the answers.

Write as semibreves (whole notes) the scales named below, without a key signature but including any necessary sharp or flat signs.

1. E major ascending
2. A major descending

Add the correct clef and any necessary sharp or flat signs to make each of the scales named below. Don’t use key signatures.

1. Ab major
2. Bb major

Name the key of each of the following scales.

1. a)
2. e)