• Beginners’ Guide To Learning “Black Key” Major Scales

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    Welcome to our lesson on black key major scales.

    If you’re a beginner, this lesson is perfect for you because I’m basically taking you by the hand and showing you step-by-step, how major scales can be played in 5 of the 12 major keys on the keyboard.

    But before we go right into learning what black key scales are and how they are played using the right fingers.

    “So, What Are Black Keys?”

    Although keys don’t have colors theoretically speaking, however, there are two colors on the keyboard — black and white — and all notes adapt to these colors.

    So, black keys are literally the keys that are black in color. We’re talking about Db (also spelled as C#):

    …Eb (also spelled as D#):

    …Gb (also spelled as F#):

    …Ab (also spelled as G#):

    …Bb (also spelled as A#):

    Every other key on the keyboard is considered to be a white key. Think about C (also spelled B#):

    D:

    E (also spelled Fb):

    …F (also spelled E#):

    G:

    A:

    …and B (which is also spelled Cb):

    Our focus in this lesson is to learn the following black key major scales:

    Db major scale

    Eb major scale

    Gb major scale

    Ab major scale

    Bb major scale

    However, before we proceed into that, let’s see how to understand fingering suggestions.

    Understanding Fingering Suggestions

    There are 5 digits on each hand whether left or right hand — the thumb and 4 fingers. Here are the names of the digits on each hand:

    The thumb

    The index finger

    The middle finger

    The ring finger

    The pinky finger

    …and each of the digits is assigned a number from 1 to 5:

    The thumb is 1

    The index finger is 2

    The middle finger is 3

    The ring finger is 4

    The pinky finger is 5

    …and these numbers are applicable on both hands: the thumb is always 1 and the pinky is always 5.

    So, when you come across a fingering suggestion that says 1-2-3, this means that the thumb should be used first, followed by the index finger, then the middle finger lastly.

    It’s not so difficult, right? All you need to do is to recall the number assigned to each digit.

    Black Key Major Scales

    Now that we know (or refreshed our minds on) what black keys are, let’s go ahead and learn step-by-step, how they can be played.

    The Db Major Scale

    The Db major scale consists of seven unique notes and a duplicate of the first note (aka – “the octave”):

    Db Eb F Gb Ab Bb C [Db]

    Attention: There are two white notes in the Db major scale: F and C. Every other note is black.

    Here’s the Db major scale:

    The fingering of the Db major scale is as follows:

    Db [2] Eb [3] F [1] Gb [2] Ab [3] Bb [4] C [1]

    …which is given below as:

    2-3 — 1-2-3-4 — 1

    Attention: Take note that the scale is usually ended using the same finger you started off on.

    The Eb Major Scale

    The notes of the Eb major scale are:

    Eb F G Ab Bb C D [Eb]

    The eighth note (which is Eb) is a duplicate of the first tone. Consequently, there are seven unique notes.

    Attention: There are four white notes in the Eb major scale. F and G:

    …are adjacent, while C and D:

    …are adjacent.

    Here’s the Eb major scale:

    The fingering of the Eb major scale is as follows:

    Eb [3] F [1] G [2] Ab [3] Bb [4] C [1] D [2] Eb [3]

    …which is given below as:

    3 — 1-2-3-4 — 1-2-3

    Attention: Take note that the scale is usually ended using the same finger you started off on.

    The Gb Major Scale

    Here are the notes of the Gb major scale

    Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F Gb

    …which consists of seven unique notes and a duplicate of the first note (aka – “the octave”).

    Attention: There are two white notes in the Gb major scale: Cb and F. Every other note is black.

    Here’s the Gb major scale:

    The fingering of the Gb major scale is as follows:

    Gb [2] Ab [3] Bb [4] Cb [1] Db [2] Eb [3] F [1] Gb [2]

    …which is given below as:

    2-3-4 — 1-2-3 — 1-2

    Attention: Take note that the scale is usually ended using the same finger you started off on.

    The Ab Major Scale

    The notes of the Ab major scale are:

    Ab Bb C Db Eb F G [Ab]

    The eighth note (which is Ab) is a duplicate of the first tone. Consequently, there are seven unique notes.

    Here’s the Ab major scale:

    The fingering of the Ab major scale is as follows:

    Ab [3] Bb [4] C [1] Db [2] Eb [3] F [1] G [2] Ab [3]

    …which is given below as:

    3-4 — 1-2-3 — 1-2-3

    Attention: Take note that the scale is usually ended using the same finger you started off on.

    The Bb Major Scale

    The Bb major scale consists of seven unique notes and a duplicate of the first note (aka – “the octave”):

    Bb C D Eb F G A [Bb]

    Attention: There are only two black notes in the Bb major scale: Bb and Eb. Every other note is white.

    Here’s the Bb major scale:

    The fingering of the Bb major scale is as follows:

    Bb [4] C [1] D [2] Eb [3] F [1] G [2] A [3] Bb [4]

    …which is given below as:

    4-1-2-3 — 1-2-3-4

    Attention: Take note that the scale is usually ended using the same finger you started off on.

    Final Words

    I’m doubly sure you’ve learned how to play black key major scales with the right fingering using the concepts covered in this lesson.

    Go ahead and add these scales in your regular practice routine if you want to master them further.

    Keep up the great work!

    The following two tabs change content below.
    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 the head of education, music consultant, and chief content creator with HearandPlay Music Group sharing my wealth of knowledge with hundreds of 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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