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The role of the Major scale

I was asked recently, as there are 66 scales, and all have rules which govern how they function in music, which I cover in Modal Method, what is the role of the Major scale?


The role of the Major scale is akin to the canvas, or the background on a painting. The Major scale sets the parameters within which the piece of music lives. Key signatures, set by the Major scale, determine not only the landscape, by setting a particular place for the music to start, but also the possible routes to and from that place, as the original starting point, or key, is always a point of resolution.


The journey that a piece of music takes has been compared to the process the hero undergoes in a story. Challenges, tribulations, failures and successes and the way the hero deals with such events. Finally, the return home and the consequences of the story are resolved, one way or another.


The Major scale establishes the environment and then the other scales introduce the equivalent of the events in the life of the hero. When the journey in music is thought of like this, every bar and every change seems vital. Repetition without variation or consequencies is dull, just as it is in a story.

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