If you’re new to playing piano, you may have already started learning scales. Though this isn’t everyone’s favorite thing to practice, scales will help you master the instrument and will ultimately give you creative freedom. Let’s take a look at the G major scale.
Get to Know the G Major Scale
Every musical key has its own mood. The key of G major, based on the G major scale, has a full, idyllic sound that some people have even associated with gratitude. Unsurprisingly, a lot of pop songs are written in this key.
And since the key has a triumphant sound, some national anthems are in the key of G, too. The national anthems of South Africa, Honduras, Lebanon, Iran, and Zimbabwe are all in G major!
Whether you’re making a playlist or writing your own songs, the key of G major is perfect for creating a mood of peace, joy, or satisfaction.
Structure and Formula of the G Major Scale
Like with any major scale, you can easily figure out the G major scale if you’re familiar with the major scale formula. Starting with the root note, you follow the formula W-W-H-W-W-W-H, where each “W” stands for a whole step and each “H” stands for a half step. If we follow this pattern starting at G (the root note), we get these seven major scale notes:
G A B C D E F#
Each note of the scale has its own name (also called a scale degree). Here are the notes of this scale with scale degree names:
- 1. G (tonic or root note)
- 2. A (supertonic)
- 3. B (mediant)
- 4. C (subdominant)
- 5. D (dominant)
- 6. E (submediant)
- 7. F# (leading tone)
As you might have guessed from the scale above, the key signature for the key of G has only one sharp. The bass clef, treble clef, alto clef, etc., will each have a sharp symbol on the staff where the F is located.
Diagram Of This Scale On The Treble And Bass Clef:
The notation diagrams of the G Major scale descending and ascending are placed below, showing its notes on the treble and bass clef.
How to Play and Learn the G Major Scale
Eventually, playing any scale becomes second nature. But in the beginning, focused practice is critically important if you want to commit a scale to memory. Here’s how to play this one.
- First, find G on the piano keyboard. It will be the fourth white key to the right of C. Play G with your thumb.
- Next, play A (the white key immediately to the right of G) with your index finger.
- Then play B (the white key to the right of A) with your middle finger.
- Now cross your thumb under your middle finger and play C (the white key to the right of B).
- Now play D (the white key to the right of C) with your index finger.
- Next, play E (the white key to the right of D) with your middle finger.
- Now play F# (the first black key to the right of E) with your ring finger.
- Finally, play G (the white key right next to F#) with your pinky.
On the way back down, use the same fingerings. Just do everything in reverse! Instead of your thumb going under your middle finger, your middle finger should go over your thumb. Start playing one octave at a time, and build up as you gain more confidence.
- Start by playing G with your pinky.
- Then play A with your ring finger.
- Next, play B with your middle finger.
- Now play C with your index finger.
- Then play D with your thumb.
- Next, cross your middle finger over your thumb to play E.
- Then play F# with your index finger.
- Lastly, play G with your thumb.
Just like with your right hand, keep the same fingerings on your way down. But instead of your middle finger crossing over your thumb, cross your thumb under your middle finger. Sometimes it can be easier to have a visual guide. Check out this video illustrating how to play the scale on the piano keyboard using both hands.
Relative and Parallel Scales
Every major scale has a relative minor scale. The relative minor scale contains the same notes (just in a different order). The E minor scale is E F# G A B C D. It includes the same notes as the G major scale, so it’s the relative minor of G major.
Parallel scales share the same root notes. The G minor scale is G A Bb C D Eb F, so it is the parallel scale of G major.
Chords of the Scale and Their Scale Degrees
If you want to start writing songs using this scale, it can be helpful to know the chords of the scale. You can figure out the chords in any major scale by applying the formula I-ii-iii-IV-V-vi-vii. The lowercase Roman numerals represent minor chords (although vii is a diminished chord). Uppercase Roman numerals represent major chords. Here’s a quick rundown of the chords in the scale:
- I. G major
- ii. A minor
- iii. B minor
- IV. C major
- V. D major
- vi. E minor
- vii. F# diminished
Of course, there are other chords in the key, too. Suspended chords, seventh chords, and other variants are also included. This video lesson gives a more in-depth look at forming chords in the key of G.
Songs in The Key
One of the best ways to get a sense of the mood of a key is to listen to some songs in the key. Here are some examples:
- “Good Riddance (Time of Your Life)” by Green Day
- “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan
- “In the Aeroplane Over the Sea” by Neutral Milk Hotel
- “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” by Earl Scruggs
- “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen
- “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan
- “The Needle and the Damage Done” by Neil Young
- “Brown Eyed Girl” by Van Morrison
- “Lithium” by Nirvana
- “Sweet Home Alabama” by Lynyrd Skynyrd
- “Mother” by Pink Floyd
Common Chord Progressions in G Major
“Good Riddance (Time of Your Life) uses an I-I-IV-V (G-G-C-D) progression in its intro and verses. Even though it’s made up of major chords, this progression still sounds bittersweet. “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door” uses the classic progression I-V-ii-ii-I-V-IV-IV (G-D-Am-Am-G-D-C-C). Though it looks somewhat complex initially, this progression just brings together some of the most commonly used chords in the G major scale.
Lots of popular songs in G major are built around simple progressions. Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl” uses an I-IV-I-V (G-C-G-D) progression. And the super-famous “Call Me Maybe” by Carly Rae Jepsen uses a simple progression of IV-I-V-vi (C-G-D-Em).
The G major scale is one of the first major scales most pianists learn. And now that you know some of the music theory behind it, we hope you’ll have an easier time learning it. Let us know what you think in the comments, and please don’t forget to like and share if you found this list useful!