The F-sharp major scale is not one of the best-known scales, as its use has been greatly reduced over the years. With a large number of accidentals, the study of this scale is usually very late in the study of music theory, and its execution, compared to that of other scales, becomes very complicated in many instruments.
Although not as popular, the F-sharp major scale can give the musician the opportunity to explore new sonorities for composition and improvisation in many musical forms.
See also F Major.

What is the F Sharp Major?

The F-sharp major scale is nothing more than a scale of musical notes that are structured in intervals of one tone between each degree, with the exception of degrees III – IV and VII – I, where the distance is half a tone, and whose main note (commonly called tonic) is F sharp. That is, the F-sharp major scale is built starting from the note F-sharp and continues leaving one tone between each note, except between the third and the fourth and between the seventh and the first (see major scales).

In this way, we can say that the notes that make up the F sharp major scale are:

● I – F sharp (F#) : tonic

● II – G sharp (G#) : supertonic

III – A sharp (L#) : by means of

● IV – Si (B) : Subdominant

● V – C sharp (C#) : Dominant

● VI – D sharp (D#) : Superdominant

VII – E sharp (E#) : Sensitive or subtonic.

Thus, it is the tonic F sharp which, being the first note of the scale, gives the scale its name.

F-sharp major scale patterns

One of the most didactic ways to learn and practice scales is to visualize them on instruments like the piano and guitar. These instruments are the most common among those people who begin their studies in music and, due to their visual character, they help to identify the notes of the scale and the distances between them more easily. In this way, see in the following image how the F-sharp major scale pattern would look like on an octave of the piano:

So, you can see that the F-sharp major scale is distributed in such a way that only two of its notes can be found on the white keys while the rest will be on the black keys. At first glance, it might seem trivial to identify the piano keys on which the scale is played, but it may in fact provide some advantages to the player.

First of all, we will be able to identify the intervallic distances between each note more easily. So, for example, if we want to play the tonic of the scale with its fourth or its fifth, we only have to count the spaces needed to reach that note.

On the other hand, by learning by heart the notes on which the F sharp major scale will fall on our instrument, we will be more agile when playing, because we will not waste time trying to identify the notes we want to play. By knowing the notes on the instrument we can play more fluently, both with the use of a score and with the use of our own creativity.

In the same way, we can identify a series of patterns on the guitar and thus identify the notes of the F-sharp major scale on the guitar:

It is important to note that the pattern shown for the F-sharp major scale on the guitar is not unique. Other patterns may be found along the neck by identifying all the notes of the scale on the six strings. The piano, on the other hand, has the same pattern overall its octaves.

F-sharp major scale and other instruments

The F-sharp major scale is not as versatile on other instruments as it is on the guitar or piano. This scale has five altered notes (taking into account that E sharp is equal to F) and therefore its execution is difficult in most instruments.

For example, on instruments such as the violin, cello and double bass, the performance requires greater dexterity in the musician, since none of the notes of the scale can be played with the strings in the air. Thus, when we play the F-sharp major scale we will be forced to step on each note over the frets, which represents a great difficulty for musicians who do not have enough experience.

The F-sharp major scale can be an attractive key for many musicians to play, but it can be difficult to play. In case you want to play something simpler, you could play the F major scale and thus facilitate the interpretation on the instrument.

Harmonizing the F sharp major scale

A very important aspect of the F-sharp major scale is its harmonization. Harmonization consists of building chords on each note of the scale based on the key and the accidentals present in it. Thus, when harmonizing the F sharp major scale, taking into account that it has six accidentals (C sharp, D sharp, E sharp, F sharp, G sharp and A sharp), the following chords are obtained:

Grade Chord Name Chord Formula
I F sharp major F#
II G sharp minor G#m
III A sharp minor A#m
IV B major B
V C sharp major C#
VI D sharp minor D#m
VII E sharp semi-diminished E#Ø

So, we could take a series of chords from the ones shown in the table and obtain a chord progression in the key of F sharp major (named after the chord corresponding to the tonic). However, playing two or even three of these chords does not in itself guarantee that the song being played is in the key of F-sharp major. For example, a song could be composed with the chords F-sharp major, B major and D-sharp minor and such a song could be based on either the F-sharp major scale or the B major scale.

Importance of this harmonization

By harmonizing the F-sharp major scale we not only get a set of chords, but we also create a world for performance, composition and improvisation in the key of the scale. This world will be composed of all the possible chord combinations that can be made with the chords obtained from the harmonization of the F-sharp major scale. At the same time, the original scale still plays an important role, since it can be used to construct a large number of melodic lines that can be played in conjunction with chord progressions.

Thus, every musician who wishes to expand his knowledge and agility in music theory and practice should make use of F major scale harmonization. To do this, you could take a series of chords from the chart and build progressions with them. In case you don’t know how to start or which chords to take, you can take the following progressions as a reference:

● F# – C# – B# – F#

● F# – G#m – C# – B# – F#

● F# – D#m – A#m – F#

● F# – B# – D#m – F#

● F# – A#m – G#m – B# – F#

These chord progressions are basic and can be played repeatedly at a tempo appropriate to the skill of the player. In turn, they could be joined together to form more complex chord progressions and introduce some melodic line built on the original scale. This will help the musician increase his or her ability to complement harmony and melody as a single figure that, in agreement, creates music.

Musical notation of the scale

Studying the musical notation of the F-sharp major scale will be an advantage for the person studying music theory. This will not only improve your fluency in reading the musical language, but will also increase your skill in performing subsequent pieces of music written in the key of F sharp major. Thus, by possessing a greater ability in reading and writing music, the performer and/or composer will have greater ease in interpreting a piece on his instrument, introducing arrangements if necessary and improvising.

In the following image you can see how to write the F-sharp major scale, both in G and F clef:

So, let’s suppose we want to play some song written on a pentagram notebook. Before proceeding to play any note on our instrument we must first identify the key of the song. To know if the song is written in the key of F sharp major, we must make sure that the only accidentals (sharps) correspond to the notes Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol and La.

In this way, when we find a piece of music written with those six accidentals, we can proceed to identify all the notes of the F-sharp major scale on our instrument. This will speed up the playing process, since we will know in advance in which parts of the instrument the notes of the song should fall.

Musical notation of the harmonized scale

The musical notation of the harmonized scale is often used more in theory than in practice. The harmonized scale is not usually represented with the aid of musical notation, but it can help to illustrate more clearly the notes that make up each chord and the distances between them. On the other hand, the chords obtained from the harmonization of the scale are usually denoted with the help of the American cipher, such as Em, F#, G#m, D#m, etc.

F-sharp major and minor scales

The F-sharp major scale and the F-sharp minor scale are often considered as the same object, but in fact they have no common characteristics that make them the same. Both scales are built from the same note (F sharp), but follow very different structures, so they will have different sound behaviors. While the F-sharp major scale has an intervallic distance between its third and fourth notes of half a tone, the F-sharp minor scale has an intervallic distance of one tone between the same notes.

Similarly, harmonizing the F-sharp minor scale will result in chords that are very different from those obtained in the major scale. This is because the harmonized scale is constructed based on the accidentals of the original scale, and the major and minor scale have different accidentals.

Intervallic distances of the F-sharp major scale

For a better understanding of how the F-sharp major scale is structured, see the pitch separation between each note of the scale:

F# G# A# B C# D# E# F#
1T 1T 1/2T 1T 1T 1T 1/2T

Thus, altering any of these distances would imply a change in the functionality of the scale.

The relative scale of F sharp major

The relative scale of F sharp major is the minor scale of D sharp. That is, even though the F-sharp major scale and the F-sharp minor scale are not the same, we can find a scale that shares the same accidentals, notes and chords with the F-sharp major scale (see relative scales).

An interesting aspect of the relative scale is its duality with the major scale. That is, since both scales have the same notes and chords, we could know the F-sharp major scale and thus play a song in the key of D-sharp minor (relative key). The two scales complement each other even when used for different purposes.

How do you know if a song is in F sharp major or D sharp minor?

As both tonalities have the same notes and chords we could ask ourselves how to know when a song is written in one or the other. To know if a song is in F sharp major or D sharp minor you must identify the chords on which the song rests. That is, we must see what chords the verses or sections of the song end on.

If a song concludes its sections in major chords, we could assume its key is F-sharp major. On the other hand, if he concludes them in minor chords, we could assume the key in the relative. In any case, only constant study and practice will help the musician to determine more accurately the key of the song.

The harmonic scale of F sharp major (G flat major)

The enharmonic scale of F sharp major is the major scale of G flat. That is, we can write the F sharp major scale with other notes but without losing its sonority. Note that F sharp (F#) and G flat (Gb) represent the same pitch even though they can be written as different notes (enharmony). Thus, we could use the F-sharp major scale or the G-flat major scale equally, but their representation in musical notation will be different. See what the G flat major scale would look like:

Gb Ab Bb Cb Db Eb F Gb
1T 1T 1/2T 1T 1T 1T 1/2T

Then, as F sharp and G flat have the same intonation, when the structure of the major scale is applied starting from both notes, two scales with the same sonority are obtained.

How To Play the F# Major Chord On Guitar (F Sharp)

F sharp major or G flat major?

As both scales have the same sonority, we could ask ourselves which one is better when playing a song or composing a piece. Certainly, the difference between the two lies in the notation used to represent the notes and chords. In this way, the musician can feel free to use whichever scale he/she feels most comfortable with.