8 Tonality

Much of the music we encounter is “tonal.” Tonality (or key) refers to a relationship among the pitches in a composition in which one pitch is central or more important than the others. This note is called the tonic (or keynote or key center) and is the first note of the scale. Playing a D major scale or a piece using this scale means playing in the key of D major.

Among the other pitches there is a hierarchy of of relationships. Therefore, it is helpful to know how a specific pitch functions within a key by learning the following scale-degree names:


scale-degree names for the major scale