B chromatic scale

The Solution below shows the B chromatic scale notes on the piano keyboard.

The Lesson steps then explain how to identify the B chromatic scale note interval positions, and choose the note names.

For a quick summary of this topic, have a look at Chromatic scale.

Keys in the chromatic scale
KeyCC#DbDD#EbEFF#GbGG#AbAA#Bb[B]

Solution - 2 parts

1. B chromatic scale

This step shows the ascending B chromatic scale, going from the lowest to the highest note in the scale.

The B chromatic scale has 12 notes, and uses every half-tone / semitone position. The piano diagram below shows the note positions and note names.

B chromatic scale
No.12345678910111213
Note nameBCC#DD#EFF#GG#AA#B

B chromatic scale

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2. B chromatic scale descending

This step shows the B chromatic scale going from the highest to the lowest note in the scale.

B chromatic scale descending

B chromatic scale descending
No.123456789101112
Note nameA#AG#GF#FED#DC#CB
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Lesson steps

1. Piano key note names

This step shows the white and black note names on a piano keyboard so that the note names are familiar for later steps, and to show that the note names start repeating themselves after 12 notes.

The white keys are named using the alphabetic letters A, B, C, D, E, F, and G, which is a pattern that repeats up the piano keyboard.

Every white or black key could have a flat(b) or sharp(#) accidental name, depending on how that note is used. In a later step, if sharp or flat notes are used, the exact accidental names will be chosen.

Sharp and flat note names

The audio files below play every note shown on the piano above, so middle C (marked with an orange line at the bottom) is the 2nd note heard.

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2. B tonic note and one octave of notes

This step applies the chromatic scale note positions starting from B, so that the correct piano keys and note pitches can be identified.

The chromatic scale contains 12 notes, and uses every single white and black note counting up from the first.

Each note is one Half-tone / semitone (1 piano key - white or black) away from the next one, shown as H in the diagram below.

The tonic note (shown as *) is the starting point and is always the 1st note in the chromatic scale.

B chromatic scale note positions

The final 13th note is the octave note, having the same name as the starting note.
13 chromatic scale notes from B
No.12345678910111213
Note nameBCC# / DbDD# / EbEFF# / GbGG# / AbAA# / BbB
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3. B chromatic scale (ascending)

This step gives note names to the piano keys identified in the previous step.

When it comes to naming the notes shown in the last step, the decision to be made is whether to use sharp or flat note names, both ascending or descending.

Chromatic scale naming in the context of a key signature

If chromatic scale notes are being used and identified within the context of a scale with a key signature (eg. major scale, or any minor scale), then the key signature will be the guide as to whether to use sharps or flats for the chromatic scale.

For example, if a sharp-based key signature is used, eg. G major key signature, and we want to use the chromatic scale to identify notes outside that scale, sharps would be used for those chromatic scale notes.

The same principle applies to flat-based key signatures, eg. Eb major key signature, where flat note names would be used.

Chromatic scales without a key signature

For both C major key signature and A natural minor key signature, there are no sharp or flat notes, so since there is no key signature, we have no clue as to whether to use sharp or flat names to identify any non-natural notes.

Although there seem to be no generally agreed rules on how to handle this, one common music theory convention is to use sharps when ascending the scale ie. when playing the notes from lowest to the highest pitch, then use flats when descending.

An example B chromatic scale

For this example - the chromatic scale in the key of B, let's assume that we are working with a key that is on the circle of 5ths - B major scale, which is a sharp-based key signature, and we want to identify some chromatic scale notes outside that key.

In this case, the first explanation above applies - we will continue to use sharp notes ascending and descending to match the scale.

B chromatic scale

The final 13th note is the octave note, having the same name as the starting note.
B chromatic scale
No.12345678910111213
Note nameBCC#DD#EFF#GG#AA#B
Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

4. B chromatic scale (descending)

This step gives descending note names to the piano keys identified in step 2.

As explained in the above step, since we were working with a scale that has a sharp-based key signature, we will descend the scale using sharp note names.

B chromatic scale descending

B chromatic scale descending
No.123456789101112
Note nameA#AG#GF#FED#DC#CB
Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3