• A 5-Second Approach To The Formation Of The Major Scale Using Tetrachords

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    Our focus in this lesson is on the formation of the major scale using tetrachords.

    Although, there are so many ways to form the major scale and we’ve explored a couple of them in the past, we’ve not explored the unique approach to chord formation using tetrachords.

    Attention: If you’re just comingĀ  across the term tetrachord for the first time, don’t let it put you off. Trust me when I say that a tetrachord is NOT as difficult as it sounds.

    Believe me, this might be the easiest approach to the formation of the major scale that you’ve ever come across and this is because you’re basically putting identical tetrachords side-by-side to form the major scale.

    Before we go into this approach to the formation of the major scale, let’s start by refreshing our minds on the tetrachord.

    A Short Note On The Tetrachord

    The term tetrachord has a Greek origin and can be broken down into two Greek words: tetra and chord.

    It’s easier to understand the concept of the tetrachord on a string instrument like the violin. Therefore permit me to use the violin as a reference.

    If you’ve been privileged to stand close to a violinist, you’ll observe that while they’re playing the major scale, they play four notes to a string. So for the entire major scale (let’s say the C major scale):

    They’ll play the first four notes (which are C, D, E, and F):

    …on a string, and the last four notes (which are G, A, B, and C):

    …on another string.

    The term tetrachord is derived from the approach to scale playing where four notes (tetra) are played to a string (chord). So, the term tetrachord literally means “four notes to a string”.

    On the keyboard, the C major scale (which consists of eight notes):

    …can be divided into two tetrachords:

    The lower tetrachord (first four notes):

    The upper tetrachord (last four notes):

    “Here Are All The Tetrachords On The Keyboard…”

    C tetrachord:

    Db tetrachord:

    D tetrachord:

    Eb tetrachord:

    E tetrachord:

    F tetrachord:

    F# tetrachord:

    G tetrachord:

    Ab tetrachord:

    A tetrachord:

    Bb tetrachord:

    B tetrachord:

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The “Official Guide To Piano Playing.” Click here for more information.

    The Formation Of The Major Scale Using Tetrachords

    Using the music clock:

     

    …you can know the two tetrachords that should be played sided by side to form the major scale.

    The tetrachord of two adjacent letter names on the music clock can be played side by side to produce a major scale.

    “Here’s How It Works…”

    You’re looking out for two notes (the root notes of the tetrachords) and using two simple steps they can be determined. So using step #1, you’ll determine the first note and step #2 to determine the second note.

    Step #1 – Find the letter name of the major scale in the music clock.

    Step #2 – Find the second note; which is ALWAYS adjacent to the first in the clockwise direction.

    Using the steps given, you can find the two notes, play the tetrachords side-by-side and have the major scale.

    Formation Of The C Major Scale

    To form the C major scale, you’ll have to find the letter name (which is at the 12 o’clock position), then adjacent to C in the clockwise direction is G (at the 1 o’clock position).

    So, playing the C and G tetrachords side by side:

    C tetrachord:

    G tetrachord:

    …produces the C major scale:

    Formation Of The Eb Major Scale

    To form the Eb major scale, you’ll have to find the letter name (which is at the 9 o’clock position), then adjacent to Eb in the clockwise direction is Bb (at the 10 o’clock position).

    So, playing the Eb and Bb tetrachords side by side:

    Eb tetrachord:

    Bb tetrachord:

    …produces the Eb major scale:

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The “Official Guide To Piano Playing.” Click here for more information.

    Formation Of The A Major Scale

    To form the A major scale, you’ll have to find the letter name (which is at the 3 o’clock position), then adjacent to A in the clockwise direction is E (at the 4 o’clock position).

    So, playing the A and E tetrachords side by side:

    A tetrachord:

    E tetrachord:

    …produces the A major scale:

    Final Words

    Depending on how well you know the music clock, you can form the major scale in 5 seconds (or less) just by playing two tetrachords side-by-side.

    No major scale is an exception to this approach; therefore, it is absolute.

    Are you ready for the next lesson on minor scales?

    See you then!

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    Hello, I'm Chuku Onyemachi (aka - "Dr. Pokey") - a musicologist, pianist, author, clinician and Nigerian. Inspired by my role model Jermaine Griggs, I started teaching musicians in my neighborhood in April 2005. Today, I'm privileged to work as a music consultant and content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with thousands of musicians across the world.

    Attention: To learn more about this, I recommend our 500+ page course: The "Official Guide To Piano Playing." Click here for more information.




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