Music Theory Syllabus

Section 1 - Scales and keys

Candidates are expected to have a good knowledge of the notes that make up scales - this is essential if the scales learnt in theory are to be used in a practical context.

  • From Preliminary to Grade 4 inclusive, some answers can be expressed by naming the notes in letter names (e.g. A natural minor = A B C D E F G A), although candidates who are also able to write out scales using notation (in a clef of their choosing) have the possibility of gaining higher marks. From Grade 5 onwards all answers must be given in standard notation.
  • Candidates should have an understanding of scale spellings (e.g. pentatonic major scale = 1 2 3 5 6 8).
  • Candidates should be able to identify or write out key signatures.

All scales and key signatures are fully illustrated and explained in the grade handbooks - which also contain sample questions and answers.

Preliminary Grade

  • C major
  • A natural minor
  • G major
  • E natural minor

Grade One

As Preliminary Grade plus:
  • C pentatonic major
  • A pentatonic minor
  • G pentatonic major
  • E pentatonic minor

Grade Two

As Grade One plus:
  • D major
  • D pentatonic major
  • F major
  • F pentatonic major
  • B natural minor
  • B pentatonic minor
  • D natural minor
  • D pentatonic minor

Grade Three

Scales to the range of 2 sharps and 2 flats:
  • Major, pentatonic major, natural minor and pentatonic minor.
  • Blues scales: C, G, D, F and Bb.

Grade Four

Scales to the range of 3 sharps and 3 flats:
  • Major, pentatonic major, natural minor, pentatonic minor and harmonic minor.
  • Blues scales: C, G, D, A, F, Bb and Eb

Grade Five

Scales to the range of 4 sharps and 4 flats:
  • Major, pentatonic major, natural minor, pentatonic minor and harmonic minor.
  • Blues scales: C, G, D, A, E, F, Bb, Eb and Ab.
  • Dorian modal scales: D, A, E, B, F#, G, C, F and Bb.
  • Mixolydian modal scales: G, D, A, E, B, C, F, Bb and Eb.

Grade Six

Scales to the range of 5 sharps and 5 flats:
  • >Major, pentatonic major, natural minor, pentatonic minor and harmonic minor.
  • Blues scales: C, G, D, A, E, B, F, Bb, Eb, Ab and Db.
  • Dorian modal scales: D, A, E, B, F#, C#, G, C, F, Bb and Eb.
  • Mixolydian modal scales: G, D, A, E, B, F#, C, F, Bb, Eb and Ab.
  • Lydian modal scales: F, C, G, D, A, E, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db and Gb.
  • The chromatic scale starting on any tonic.

Grade Seven

Scales in all keys:
  • Major, pentatonic major, natural minor, pentatonic minor, blues and harmonic minor,
  • Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian and Mixolydian modal scales.
  • Chromatic and whole tone.

Grade Eight

All requirements from all previous grades, plus in all keys:
  • Locrian modal scale.
  • Phrygian major modal scale.
  • Jazz melodic minor scale.
  • Lydian b7 (Lydian dominant) modal scale.
  • Altered scale.
  • Diminished scale.
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1-Scales and Keys | 2-Chords | 3-Rhythm Notation | 4-Knowledge of Popular Music | 5-Harmony | 6-Transpositions
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