Music Tips: C Major Tricks

Aug 01, 2022

The "All-Natural" Key of C Major

The key of C major is the only major key whose scale contains no sharps or flats, just the natural letter name notes.

C major is the key for which learned the notes in Book 2 of Mandolin Mastery. You know how to read the notes on the staff. And you know how to play them on your mandolin.

These seven notes are the plain old alphabet letters. Or the white keys on a piano.

Here, once more, are the notes of the C major scale as available to you on your mandolin in first position. (N.B. the root of the scale, or one, is in red whenever it appears.)

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The first line of music walks from the lowest available C major scale note to the highest (in first position.)

The second line walks the C major scale back in reverse.

Many students who have already learned a scale or two before coming here find this part of my lessons confusing.

Specifically, they have trouble understanding how a C major scale "starts" on a G at the bottom and "ends" on an A at the top.

For it is typical, in less formal lessons, to teach the C major scale in the following manner, with "one" at the bottom and "one" at the top:



This is very satisfying to the ear, as we "end" on the root or the one in both directions:

But, if you've learned the C major scale notes in this fashion, then you only know the scale on a small portion of your mandolin, when in fact it keeps going in either direction, as you can clearly hear in this example:


Fortunately for you, you have already learned how to play the entire range of the C major scale on your mandolin, in first position.

Needless to say, as we change keys throughout this course, we will learn each new scale in this comprehensive and practical fashion.

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