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Harmonized Major Scale

The Harmonized Major Scale

Harmonizing a scale means identifying the chords that belong to that scale. The Major Scales has seven three-note chords (triads). Each of them serves a particular function in creating that scale's harmony.  The first note of a Major scale is known as its root. However, the other notes of the scale are roots too. These roots are the first note of scale's modes. There are seven notes in the Major scale and so, there are seven modes. Each mode is the basis from which chords are constructed that "harmonize" together. Chords that use the notes that belong to a Major Scale are said to be diatonic to that scale.

This interactive chart allows you to see the notes that make up any mode in every possible key. The stacked blocks of major and minor thirds at the top of the chart are guides to help you see the chords that spring forth from each mode. Each note of a Major scale has a scale degree (indicated with Roman numerals) associated with it. This number tells you which note of the Major scale the mode begins on.

The dashed red lines show the notes of major chords that belong to the Major Scale. For instance, the first three red vertical  lines indicate triads (three-not chord). There are other notes that occur and the gray dashed lines. These are the minor chords that belong to the Major Scale. You will notice that the chord that is generated by the fifth note of the Major Scale (V) lays out a little differently from the other chords. It is the only chord belonging to the Major Scale whose second and fourth note appear on gray lines. The position of the notes in the chord give it a characteristically dissonant sound. This chord produces harmonic tension that is usually resolved by the first chord (I) of the Major Scale. The "tetrad chord" column at the right of the chart shows the names of four-note chords generated each mode. These four-note chords are the basis of jazz harmony.

A Major Scale can begin with one of fifteen notes. This root note leads to the generation of a set of notes, modes, and chords that make up a key. The root note becomes the name of that key. For instance, the key of C Major includes the notes of the C Major Scale.


Use the "key pad" at the bottom of the diagram to select the key you are interested in viewing. Use your cursor to mouse over the key you wish to activate. If you are using a mobile device you will need to tap the key pad.

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