Everything You Need to Know About the F Major Scale

All musicians practice their major and minor scales. There are twenty-four of them altogether, twelve of which are major and twelve minor.

F Major is one of the major scales. The key of F Major is based on the notes of this scale. If you want to play music in the key of F Major, then, start by learning the F Major scale.

Luckily, it’s easy to learn to play this scale. All it takes is a little practice, and then playing music in this key will be a breeze.

This article will help you get there. Below we’ll show you how to build an F Major scale, how it works, and what you do with it. Read on for more information! And for the E major scale read it here.

Some Notes About F Major

As noted above, the F Major scale is a major scale. Keys based on major scales sound bright and happy. They contrast with minor keys, which most people hear as dark and brooding.

Some instruments are built naturally to play in the key of F Major. Both the French horn and the English horn read music in the key of C but sound in the key of F Major. Their music has to be transposed when they play with pianists and other orchestral musicians.

Also, many well-known musical compositions were written in the key of F Major. “Autumn” from The Four Seasons by Antonio Vivaldi is one of the more famous F Major pieces [1].

But, there are many others as well. Two of J.S. Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos are in F Major, as are two of Ludwig van Beethoven’s symphonies. As you can see, then, F Major was a popular key for composers to use [2]!

It still is today! In the next section, let’s look at the scale that forms the basis for the key of F Major: the F Major scale.

How To Build a Major Scale

It’s simple to build any major scale–including the F Major scale–by visualizing a piano keyboard. Looking at a keyboard, then, we see there are white keys and black keys.

The black keys follow a pattern. Groups of two and three black keys alternate up the keyboard.

We use these groups to help us find the names of the white keys. Below each group of two black keys is the note named C. This is true all the way up and down the keyboard.

Following the White Keys to Build a C Major Scale

Going up the white keys from each C are the following pitches:


Notice that C repeats. It is the first and last note of this group. Because of this fact, we say C is the root note or tonic. This is true if we’re talking about either the scale or the key of C.

The white keys shown above make up the C Major scale. Each pitch in this scale is separated by what we call an interval.

That’s a fancy word referring to the space between the notes. In the case of all major scales, all pairs of pitches are separated by either a whole step or a half step.

The pattern of intervals in the C Major scale is as follows:

C to D: whole step

D to E: whole step

E to F: half step

F to G: whole step

G to A: whole step

A to B: whole step

B to C: half step

Notice that whole steps separate all pairs of pitches except two:

E to F and B to C

Also, it’s important to recognize the pattern of whole and half steps remain the same when going back down the scale:

C to B: half step

B to A: whole step

A to G: whole step

G to F: whole step

F to E: half step

E to D: whole step

D to C: whole step

You can start on any tonic and, using this pattern of whole and half steps, build a major scale. In the next section, let’s do this for F Major.

How to Build an F Major Scale

What if F is your tonic? How do you build a major scale starting on this new pitch?

Don’t worry. It’s easy once you understand the pattern of whole and half steps shown above.

Let’s start on F, then, and go up the keyboard:

F to G: whole step

G to A: whole step

A to B-flat: half step

B-flat to C: whole step

C to D: whole step

D to E: whole step

E to F: half step

As you can see, in order to maintain the pattern of whole and half steps used in the C Major scale above, we had to add an accidental.

That word refers to any sharp or flat added to a pitch. In this case, we added a flat to B to create B-flat. Therefore, the F Major scale has one flat: B-flat.

Some Thoughts on Key Signatures in F Major

The key of F uses this same flat in its key signature. That’s true whether the music you’re playing is in the treble or the bass clef.

The key of D minor also has one flat in its key signature, but it’s not the same key as F Major. Because it’s a minor key, d minor has a more melancholy sound that F major.

It has a different tonic and its own pattern of whole and half steps. But, because F Major shares the same key signature as d minor, we say F Major is the relative major of d minor.

How To Play the F Major Scale

To play the C Major scale above, all you needed to do was run your fingers over the white keys of the keyboard. The F Major scale is just a little bit more difficult, but not too much [3].

For this scale, start on F (use C to help you find F if necessary). Next, go up to the white keys G and A. For B, play the black key just to its left. That’s B-flat.

Then, continue on up the white keys C, D, E, and back to F. Going down is the same pattern, only in reverse.

You can also repeat this pattern going up or down to play more than one octave.

An octave is another kind of interval. It refers to the distance between two pitches of the same name. C to C is an octave, as is F to F.

Some Final Notes on F Major

There are some fancy names given to each of the pitches of the major scale that you should know. In addition to the tonic, the fifth note of the scale has a special name called the dominant. For F Major, the dominant pitch is C.

Composers like to build chords on the dominant because they have a strong tendency to go back to the tonic. Using these chords in succession gives Western music its sense of leaving your resting point (the tonic) and then returning to it by the end of the piece.

Wrapping Up the F Major Scale

That’s everything you need to know to get started on the F Major scale. You can now build the F Major notes going both up and down.

Learning how to play the F Major scale on the piano requires nothing more than practice. Take the time to practice your scales and arpeggios, and you’ll be playing music in the key of F Major in no time!

Here is an introduction to G major scale.

Stephanie Su

Started learning music when she was four years old, Stephanie is a music teacher and a music therapist who is highly proficient in Piano, Violin, Guitar, and Ukulele. She likes to learn, teach, and share her music playing experiences.

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