C Major Scale: Complete Guide with Notes, Chords & Pictures

C Major Scale - Guide with Notes and Pictures
C Major Scale - Guide with Notes and Pictures

Notes in the C Major Scale

Today we are learning the most beginner-friendly scale, the C Major Scale.

In this ultimate music theory guide, we dive deep into notes, scale degrees, chords and more. It’s important that before you start writing songs and begin song arrangement, you understand music theory behind the scale. 

The notes in the C Major Scale are:


This scale consists of 7 different notes. Traditionally, when the scale is played, the first note is repeated at the end in the octave above. For the C Major Scale, the final note would be B.

C Major Scale: Sharps and Flats

The C Major Scale contains no sharps or flats. All the notes within this scale are natural.

The flattened or sharpened symbol is placed on each note at the beginning of the music, so the musician knows how to play the specific notes when they see the single staff or grand staff.

The C Major Scale is the only major scale without sharps or flats. This means a key signature on musical notation is not necessary. 

If you see a musical piece without a key signature , it’s easy to identify that the music is in the key of C Major.

C Major: Scale Position of Each Note

Each note in the C Major Scale has a specific position within the scale. These positions are also known as degrees. 

When we look at the scale, the first note (or 1st degree) is C. The 3rd degree is E, the 5th is G, and so forth. Understanding these scale positions will help you when building chords.

Here is each degree of the scale, which shows each note’s position within the scale.


C Major Piano Scale

Many musicians who are learning their music theory find it easier to visualize and learn on the piano.

This scale is made up of only white keys on the piano, meaning it’s one of the easiest scales to learn for beginners. 

Understanding these combinations can be a handy trick for musicians to remember hand position and scale.

C Major Piano Notes:

C Major Scale - Notes on Piano

C Major Piano Degrees:

C Major Scale - Degrees on Piano

There is a pattern to a Major scale that makes learning a scale easier. 

This pattern consists of whole steps and half steps. To move up (or down) a scale, you take either a whole step or half a step. A whole step is 2 notes, and a half step is 1 note.


Chords in the C Major Scale

Now we know the notes in the C Major Scale, and the different scale positions of each, the next step is to learn the chords.

We’ll focus on the most popular and used chord structure, known as triad chords. Triad chords consist of 3 notes (or pitch tones) within the same scale.

The 3 notes that make up a triad chord are referred to as the Root Note, the 3rd Note, and the 5th Note


C Major in Musical Notation

The next step to mastering the C Major scale is to understand it when it’s used in musical notation

Musicians that are not necessarily focusing on classical, written music can still benefit from learning musical notation. Let’s focus on the 4 most commonly used clefs, which are Treble, Bass, Alto, and Tenor.

C Major Scale in Treble Clef

The Treble Clef is the most common Clef used in music notation, as it represents a pitch range that is covered by a wide range of popular instruments.

C Major Scale in Treble Clef

C Major Scale in Bass Clef

The Bass Clef is commonly used in music notation and represents instruments in the lower pitch registers.

C Major Scale in Bass Clef

C Major Scale in Alto Clef

The Alto Clef is less commonly found in music notation. It represents a specific pitch register that is mainly associated with the viola.

C Major Scale in Alto Clef

C Major Scale in Tenor Clef

The Tenor Clef is also less commonly found in music notation. It represents a specific pitch register that is mainly associated with the cello and trombone played in higher ranges.

C Major Scale in Tenor Clef

C Major Scale Degree and Patterns on Musical Notation

Similarly to the scale on the piano, we can also apply the scale degrees when looking at the musical notation:

C Major Scale Degrees on Musical Notation

We can also add the Major Scale pattern to the musical notation:

C Major Scale - Patterns on Musical Notation

C Major: Traditional Scale Degrees and Technical Names

In traditional harmony music theory, each note’s position within a scale degree is given a technical name. 

You can think of these names as alternatives to the scale degrees names we discussed earlier (1st, 3rd, 5th degree). These technical names are:

Tonic, Supertonic, Mediant, Subdominant, Dominant, Submediant, and Leading Tone

You’ll find these in certain music literature and references, so it’s good for beginner musicians to know these. 

Here’s what that looks like for the C Major Scale:

NameTonicSupertonicMediantSubdominantDominanteSubmediantLeading Tone

C Major: Solfege Syllables

Solfege Syllables is a popular musical system that assigns a specific syllable to each note within a scale degree. 

This is popular amongst singers, as this system is mainly used to sing each scale position to hear the unique sound of each position. Here are the syllables for each scale position:


This system is a great way to train your ears. We can apply this to our scale to get the following:


You can also see the Solfege system for the C Major scale on the piano roll:

C Major Scale - Solfege on Piano

Summary: Learning the C Major Scale

To tie all of this new musical knowledge together, it’s time to understand the relationship between these different musical systems, and how they line up.

Here’s the full scale alongside the scale degree number, steps, Solfege, and traditional musical systems:

NameTonicSupertonicMediantSubdominantDominanteSubmediantLeading Tone

And there you have it, the complete guide to the C Major scale. We hope that our guide has helped you on your musical journey!

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Thomas Smith
As Visionary and Chief Editor of 122BPM, Thomas is dedicated to inspiring the next generation of music pioneers. With a degree in Music and 10 years industry experience, Thomas is now shaping 122BPM as the central hub for music and audio education.
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