F-flat major scale

The Solution below shows the Fb major scale notes, intervals and scale degrees on the piano, treble clef and bass clef.

The Lesson steps then explain how to identify the F-flat major scale note interval positions, choose the note names and scale degree names.

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

Keys in the major scale
KeyCC#DbDD#EbEE#[Fb]FF#GbGG#AbAA#BbBB#CbAll On 1 page

Solution - 2 parts

1. F-flat major scale

This step shows the ascending F-flat major scale on the piano, treble clef and bass clef. It also shows the scale degree chart for all 8 notes.

The F-flat major scale has 1 double-flat, 6 flats.

Warning: The F-flat key is a theoretical major scale key.

This means:

> Its key signature would contain either double-sharps or double flats.

> It is rarely used in practice, because it is too complex to use.

> It is not on the Circle of fifths diagram, which contains the most commonly used keys.

> There is always an identical major scale that you can use in its place, which is on the Circle of 5ths.

> The E major scale sounds the same / contains the same note pitches, which are played in the same order (the scales are enharmonic), so it can be used as a direct replacement for the F-flat major scale.

F-flat major scale note names
Note no.Note intervalNote name
1tonicThe 1st note of the F-flat major scale is Fb
2Fb-maj-2ndThe 2nd note of the F-flat major scale is Gb
3Fb-maj-3rdThe 3rd note of the F-flat major scale is Ab
4Fb-perf-4thThe 4th note of the F-flat major scale is Bbb
5Fb-perf-5thThe 5th note of the F-flat major scale is Cb
6Fb-maj-6thThe 6th note of the F-flat major scale is Db
7Fb-maj-7thThe 7th note of the F-flat major scale is Eb
8Fb-perf-8thThe 8th note of the F-flat major scale is Fb

F-flat major scale

Middle C (midi note 60) is shown with an orange line under the 2nd note on the piano diagram.

These note names are shown below on the treble clef followed by the bass clef.

F-flat major scale

F-flat major scale

The stave diagrams above shows the scale notes without a key signature, with the sharp / flat adjustments inserted before each note on the staff.

For the key signature of this scale, showing these symbols grouped correctly next to the bass or treble clef symbol at the beginning, have a look at the Fb major key signature.

F-flat major scale degrees
Note no.Degree name
1Fb is the tonic of the F-flat major scale
2Gb is the supertonic of the F-flat major scale
3Ab is the mediant of the F-flat major scale
4Bbb is the subdominant of the F-flat major scale
5Cb is the dominant of the F-flat major scale
6Db is the submediant of the F-flat major scale
7Eb is the leading tone of the F-flat major scale
8Fb is the octave of the F-flat major scale
Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

2. F-flat major scale descending

This step shows the descending F-flat major scale on the piano, treble clef and bass clef.
F-flat major scale descending
No.1234567
NoteEbDbCbBbbAbGbFb

F-flat major scale descending

F-flat major scale descending

F-flat major scale descending

Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

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.

Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

2. F-flat tonic note and one octave of notes

This step shows an octave of notes in the key of Fb, to identify the start and end notes of the scale.

The numbered notes are those that might be used when building this note scale.

But since this is a scale in the key of Fb, it is certain that notes 1 and 13 will be used in the scale.

Note 1 is the tonic note - the starting note - Fb, and note 13 is the same note name but one octave higher.

F-flat chromatic scale-1 octave of notes

F-flat chromatic scale-1 octave of notes
No.12345678910111213
NoteFbFF# / GbGG# / AbAA# / BbBCC# / DbDD# / EbFb
Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

3. F-flat major scale note interval positions

This step applies the major scale note interval pattern starting from F-flat, so that the correct piano keys and note pitches can be identified.

The major scale uses the  W-W-H-W-W-W-H  note counting rule to identify the scale note positions.

To count up a Whole tone, count up by two physical piano keys, either white or black.

To count up a Half-tone (semitone), count up from the last note up by one physical piano key, either white or black.

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

F-flat major scale note positions

Again, the final 8th note is the octave note, having the same name as the tonic note.
F-flat major scale
No.12345678
NoteFbF# / GbG# / AbABC# / DbD# / EbFb
Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

4. F-flat major scale notes

This step tries to assign note names to the piano keys identified in the previous step, so that they can be written on a note staff in the Solution section.

The 7 unique notes in a scale need to be named such that each letter from A to G is used once only, so each note name is either a natural white name(A.. G) , a sharp(eg. F#) or a flat(eg. Gb).

The rule ensures that every position of a staff is used once and once only - whether that position be a note in a space, or a note on a line.

This is needed to ensure that when it comes to writing the scale notes on a musical staff (eg. a bass or treble clef), there is no possibility of having 2 G-type notes, for example, with one of the notes needing an accidental next to it on the staff (a sharp, flat or natural symbol).

To apply this rule, firstly list the white key names starting from the tonic, which are shown the White column below.

Then list the 7 notes in the scale so far, shown in the next column.

For each of the 7 notes, look across and try to find the White note name in the Scale note name.

If the natural white note can be found in the scale note, the scale note is written in the Match? column.

The 8th note - the octave note, will have the same name as the first note, the tonic note.

F-flat major scale with mismatches
No.WhiteScale noteMatch?
1FFbFb
2GF# / GbGb
3AG# / AbAb
4BAm
5CBm
6DC# / DbDb
7ED# / EbEb
8FFbFb

For this scale, there are 2 mismatches (Shown as m in the Match? column), whose note names will need to be adjusted in the next step.

F-flat major scale with mismatches

5. Make the F-flat note name adjustments

This step shows how to make the note name adjustments so that each note letter A to G is used once only in the scale.

The adjustment explanation below needs to be applied to every mismatch m in the above table. The first mismatch is used as an example.

The match fails when trying to find a B -type of scale note, because either this type of note does not exist in this scale, or it exists but is in the wrong position number / table row for this match.

But music theory rules allow the name of any note to be sharpened or flattened, even white note names, so since a B-type of note name is needed, the real scale note A will be renamed to Bbb.

Of course, even though the note is named Bbb, when it comes to playing the note on an instrument, the real note A is really played.

The adjustments done in this step do not change the pitch / sound of the note, only the name of the note.

After doing the adjustments to all mistmatches, all letters A..G will have been used for this major scale, and no rules have been broken.

Note that sometimes it is necessary to adjust the note name two half-tones / semitones forward or back, which will result in an adjusted name containing a double-sharp or double-flat.

F-flat major scale

F-flat major scale
No.12345678
NoteFbGbAbBbbCbDbEbFb

6. F-flat major scale descending

This step shows the notes when descending the F-flat major scale, going from the highest note sound back to the starting note.

For major scales, the notes names when descending are just the reverse of the ascending names.

So assuming octave note 8 has been played in the step above, the notes now descend back to the tonic.

F-flat major scale descending

F-flat major scale descending
No.1234567
NoteEbDbCbBbbAbGbFb
Audio downloads
bass clef iconBass Clef:MidiMP3treble clef iconTreble Clef:MidiMP3

7. F-flat major scale degrees

This step shows the F-flat major scale degrees - tonic, supertonic, mediant, subdominant, dominant, submediant, leading note / tone, and octave.
In music theory, each note in this scale has what is called a scale degree name, which describes the relationship of that note to the tonic(1st) note.

Scale degree names 1,2,3,4,5,6, and 8 below are always the same for all major and minor scales (ie. 1st note is always tonic, 2nd is supertonic etc.) , but obviously the note names will be different for each scale / key combination.

In the major scale, the 7th note is called the leading note or leading tone because the sound of the 7th note feels like it wants to resolve and finish at the octave note, when all scale notes are played in sequence.

It does this because in this scale, the 7th note is only 1 semitone away from the 8th note - the octave note. The Fb harmonic minor scale and Fb melodic minor scale scales share the same property - they both have only one half-tone / semitone between the 7th and 8th notes.

In contrast, the Fb natural minor scale has a whole tone (two half-tones / semitones, two notes on the piano keyboard) between the 7th and 8th notes, and the 7th note does not lean towards the 8th note in the same way. In this case, the 7th note is called the subtonic.

F-flat major scale degrees
Note no.Degree name
1Fb is the tonic of the F-flat major scale
2Gb is the supertonic of the F-flat major scale
3Ab is the mediant of the F-flat major scale
4Bbb is the subdominant of the F-flat major scale
5Cb is the dominant of the F-flat major scale
6Db is the submediant of the F-flat major scale
7Eb is the leading tone of the F-flat major scale
8Fb is the octave of the F-flat major scale