Adding a little fun to the chromatic scales

Even if you’re still a beginner, you might have already come across the term “chromatic scale” - also called a “12-tone scale” - a type of scale which uses every single one of the 12 tones in Western music.

In itself, playing this particular scale can be a little bit boring at times. You can challenge yourself and see how fast you can get to play it up and down with each hand.

Today I want to show you one way to make it a little bit more fun by adding simple rhythms - nothing specific, just whatever your fingers can play at the moment.

So, for the chromatic scale there are basically two positions that you have to memorize and get your fingers used to.

The first position has the fingers 1 and 2 on the two white notes that are one semitone apart and finger 3 on the black note immediately next to the two white notes. There are two such pairs of white notes - one is B&C and the other E&F.

Observe how I’ve aligned my frame so that A♭ - the middle black note - is right in the middle of it, making the keyboard in view perfectly symmetrical. In a very similar way I could’ve aligned my frame so the note D was right in the middle of it and the keyboard in view would’ve been, similarly, perfectly symmetrical.

So, as I was saying, the first position involves fingers 1,2,3 playing each pair of the two white notes and the first black note immediately after that.

The second position is finger 3 on the rest of the black notes and finger 1 on the rest of the white. To summarise, all of the black notes are played by finger 3 and most of the white notes are played by finger 1 - with the exception of B&E for the left hand and C&F for the right hand, which are being played by finger 2.

Put all of that together and add a little bit of rhythm and you’ll notice that it’s already beginning to sound a little more interesting.

To make it a bit more challenging, try and play with both hands. Playing the same tones in unison can be quite difficult in the beginning so before you try that, experiment with the following exercise for a while.

Take either Ab or D as your mirror line - I have chosen Ab for this segment - and play up and down separately with each hand.

Then try to play with both hands at the same time. This particular exercise is fairly easy because it focuses on symmetry - rather than the notes being played - so you can just watch one of your hands while allowing your other hand to follow the same movement symmetrically.

Finally, practice playing the same tones - one octave apart, at first, then two octaves and so on.

This is a more difficult way to play the chromatic scales so allow yourself to make a lot of mistakes and focus on having fun more than anything else