Fundamentals of
SCALES AND KEY SIGNATURES

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1. The Chromatic Scale.

a. The chromatic scale consists entirely of half steps. There are twelve half steps or thirteen pitches in an octave. If all thirteen pitches are represented in ascending or descending order, the result is a chromatic scale. The name of the chromatic scale is the first note of the scale regardless of the key signature (Figure 5-1).


Figure 5-1: D Chromatic Scale.

b. When notating chromatic scales, any pitch requiring an accidental is written as a chromatic alteration of the previous pitch (Figure 5-2). Use sharps when ascending and flats when descending.


Figure5-2: Accidentals in a Chromatic Scale.

c. Avoid double sharps and double flats when notating chromatic scales. Use natural signs on adjacent staff degrees to avoid double sharps and double flats.


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Last Updated: March 31, 2012