Once we simplify the 12 notes and we are now able to find any Major scale very quickly  (if you only did the exercise to find the other Major scales a few times you would see this is really easy….) and we can continue to explore the Major scales for other Keys.  This is the foundation of the musical theory pyramid.  It is important to understand how we get to the Safe Seven.  No, you do not have to memorize every note in every scale, although ultimately that will help a lot.  For now, try digging in and go over the Major scale for each of the 12 notes a few times.  As you play the new Major scales, sing (or hum!) the Do Re Me song along with the notes you are playing.  (tip for the day; as you hum each scale from the new starting note, you are changing keys!)

When we look back at the Safe Seven article, I showed a simple connection that I will repeat here:

C    D     E     F     G     A     B     C

1     2     3     4     5     6     7     1

There is a lot of math in music and music theory.  But instead of confusing things and making you change from your creative hat to your thinking hat, I find the math connection actually simplifies the confusion.  It allows me to see the connection the various notes have.  Personally, I HEAR and FEEL music more than I THINK it through.  I have friends that can convert and spit out scales, keys and modes as easily as some of us use Pandora, Spotify or I-Tunes to change a song.  I am really amazed at their skills, but that is something I am not all that good at.  But you will see how easy it is to understand the art and the science by following these posts.
If we look at the Safe Seven for each Major scale, we can make an easy conversion (or universal language) for describing note or chord progressions for ANY Major key.  I know, I keep on harping on the Major scales, but the others will be really easy once we have this understood and comfortable with the Mystery of the 12 and the Safe Seven, so let’s keep going.  For those of you new to this blog, I have no formal training and I am self taught.   I can assure you I am no genius.  If I can get this, so can you.  I just hope to make it a bit easier for you if you are just diving in or curious about how this fits together.

Knowing now that we call the first note the Root, and the same note higher or lower on the keyboard are called Octaves, we will begin a simple conversion;  Root = 1.  Each note in the Safe Seven can be represented this way by assigning it a value of 1-7.  We just assigned Root = 1, so moving up is easy.  In the example above, C is the Root so C = 1 and continuing the scale, D = 2, E = 3, F = 4, G = 5, A = 6, B = 7 and the octave is again the Root or 1.   Each Major scale can be represented the same way.  Use the Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Whole, Half system to find the Safe Seven and then assign each to their corresponding number and we can stop talking about note names!  As we get more into chord structure and progressions, this will also come into perspective.  But let’s not get stretched too far.  Play with these exercises a few times a day and we will build our solid musical foundation quickly.  I will also go into the names of the notes as they change keys and this can be confusing to many until you see the method to the madness.

  1. David Kennedy says:

    Hooray, you were right. It came back.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Its great how music can be so complex and simple all at once. This made me miss my sax and guitar lessons. Very informative! Cool post!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Victoria says:

    Wish i could have read this when I was a music student – 30 years ago 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I plodded my way through years of music theory… I don’t regret it but I’m in awe of those (such as yourself) who create music more from the heart than the theory book.

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      Ha! I guess we all want what we don’t have. In many ways I struggle to keep up to know what I am doing…. If not why. I think if I had more theory earlier, I would have understood a lot more than I do now. Thank you for your comment and please comment if I am on the wrong path!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Tom says:

    Calling the first note “1′ is a mistake. It complicates everything.

    The math is easier if you name the root “zero.” 0 2 4 5 7 9 11 (the major scale). You can add 12 and get the same notes, just an octave higher. Subtract 12 and get the original keys. There are only 12 tones on a piano: 0, 1, 2, …, 11 After that, it just repeats.

    Keep this in mind. This completely agrees with what MidiMike is teaching.


    Liked by 1 person

  6. Tom says:

    another benefit — divide by 12 and you always get the same number

    Liked by 1 person

  7. bnf1984 says:

    Theory is great, and it helps to know, but for me, I trust my ears over my theory knowledge. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • midimike says:

      I know many musicians like that. I am in the middle, of sorts. I have a good ear, but not to the point of confidence and understanding the theory gives me another way to put it all together. I wish I had a better ear like you!


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