The Chromatic Scale


Understand and be able to create the chromatic scale with appropriate accidentals.

The Chromatic Scale

A scale is a collection of notes. As you get further in theory you can get a lot fancier with the definition. The chromatic scale is the collection of every note. If you start on C and hit each note going up to the next C then you will have played the scale!

Building a Chromatic Scale

When writing down a chromatic scale note that going up we use sharps and going down we use flats. So to start we pick a starting note. We usually pick C, but it doesn’t have to be C, it could be any note. C is just very popular.

To start we write the note C, then the next note up (or 1 half step up), that is C#. The next note up is D (2 half steps up) and the next note is then D# (3 half steps up). Another half step up give E and one more gives F. You get the picture, we eventually get to the next C where we then start to repeat.

Going down we have flats. We start at C and move 1 half step down to B. Then to Bb, then A, Ab, etc… The only difference this time is that we use flats.

The chromatic scale is very important because another way you can define a scale is a collection of intervals. In this case it is all half steps. Move up and down by single notes and you have chromatic movement.

The Half Step

The half step will become a measuring stick we use, sort of like the foot, or meter. In the beginning we will measure things by how many half steps away something is and pick up better ways of thinking as we build on this simple definition. We will see more about this in the next lesson.


For now I invite you to write a chromatic scale starting at A and going up to the next A. You can pick the octave. Then write another chromatic scale going from a high D down to a lower D. If you can do that then you are ready for the next lesson.

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