12 Scales One Formula: A How To Guide to the Musical Interval

by Jeremy Stanton (email: stanton45@hotmail.co.uk)

If the numbers are right, the sound will be right. The piano can be thought of as a numbers machine, a calculator if you like. Think in terms of shapes, patterns and numbers. Encompassing these three aspects is the musical interval.

Know your intervals and you will know your scales, you will come to realise that everything you play, or want to play, has a formula of intervals. Less of an art, more akin to mathematics.

To explain what I mean, this is the key to all scales:

R = Root note, or starting note

T = Tone, two is equal to two semitones.

S = Semitone, the nearest distance between one note and another.

When considering the C Major scale, the interval appears as follows:



C is our root, or starting note. Therefore, C is equal to (R), this is our beginning point.

To demonstrate:

C Major


You can see that an interval is the space between one note and the next, regardless of whether they’re black or white.

So, if you start absolutely anywhere on any note using this formula of intervals you will have the Major scale of the note you have started on. 


This is the magical formula, if you will, for all the Major scales. Try it, and you’ll see it will demystify the piano.

Work your way up and down the keys in this way until you become familiar, but stick only to that formula.

To reiterate these intervals are applicable for all Major scales. On my next article, I will be covering the magic intervals for the Minor scales.

Strict practise, easy playing.


Instead of being dedicated to one instrument, young musicians, or professionals, MakingMusicMag.com is a lifestyle resource for all music makers, regardless of age, instrument, or ability. We focus on providing educational articles teaching people how to play an instrument, but we also favor travel pieces, music related health articles, interesting news stories, and plenty more.

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