Piano Chromatic Scale lesson

The chromatic scale is totally different from all other scales that exist in music. It includes all the piano notes that are located on the piano keyboard. So it would be correct to say that this scale is made up of twelve semitones.

According to the book “Music an Appreciation (4th Edition)” by Roger Kamien, the word chromatic comes from the Greek word ‘chroma’. The Greek word ‘chroma’ means color.

Major, minor, blues and pentatonic scales all have a particular structure according to the intervals used to form them. However, chromatic scales are constructed by playing all the notes that exist within one octave. This means that you will be playing half-tones or half-steps from the root note to its relative octave. For example – The notes that make up the G chromatic are as follows;

If you should play all the notes in this scale in the same order on your piano or keyboard, you will notice that you are playing semitone movements.

Just a quick reminder! B to C and E to F are semitone movements whether you go in forward and backward motion. These are the only set of white keys that form semitones on the piano.

Click here to learn more about half-tones/semitones.

Chromatic scales have no key signature and so they are dependent on major and minor key signatures when inserted in the melody of a musical piece. One of the easiest way to learn to play this scale on your piano is by playing it in the key of C. In this case, the scale will be called C chromatic.

Take a look at the diagram below for more information.

It is important that you pay close attention to the fingers used when playing this type of scale with both hands on the piano. When practicing scales with a chromatic structure on your piano, try not to focus only on one octave, but try playing it in at least two. However, playing it in four octaves is a great way to exercise your fingers which is good for piano players who love to do solos and play classical music. I am sure you will see the benefits in the future.

Click here to view an illustration showing how chromatic scales are played on the piano.



Here are some other related lessons on piano scales that you might be interested in.


Playing Major Scales on the Piano
Understanding Minor Scales
The Pentatonic Scale


Click here to leave the chromatic scale page and return to home page.


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