If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content

Lesson 10: Chromatic scales and the half step

Want to join the conversation?

Video transcript

- [Instructor] We have learned that there are seven names to all the notes, ABCDEFG. We can now add to that list of seven all the notes with sharps and flats. So an A, then there could be an A sharp, B, B sharp, C, C sharp, D, D sharp, and so forth. The same with flats. A, A flat, G, G flat, F, F flat, and so forth. Let's go back to our piano keyboard. From the treble clef middle C, let's look at the octave above, the C on the third space. There are 12 note from the middle C to the third space C. These notes make up the chromatic scale. (plays chromatic scale on piano) Remember that between E and F and between B and C there isn't a black key. Using sharps, here are all of the names of the notes of the chromaic scale. C, C sharp, D, D sharp, E, F, F sharp, G, G sharp, A, A sharp, B, C. The distance between each of these notes is called a half step or the interval of a semitone, also called a minor second. An interval is the distance between two musical pitches. We already know one interval, an octave, and in future lessons, we will discuss many intervals, but for now let's focus on the interval of a half step. This is a fundamental building block of all musical intervals. A chromatic scale is made up of 12 half steps. Now let's look a the chromatic scale from the third space C in the treble clef descending using flats. C, B, B flat, A, A flat, G, G flat, F, E, E flat, D, D flat, C. All half steps. Towards the end of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade in the flute part, he writes a chromatic scale, but he uses a combination of sharps, flats, and naturals to make this scale, all half steps, a chromatic scale. (dramatic orchestral music)