Music Theory

Learn All About the G Major Piano Scale

By Rebecca Carlson

Learn all about the G major piano scale, including its notes, how to play the scale with both hands, chords, and songs in this key!

Meet G major, one of the most popular key signatures in all of music! In fact, Spotify reports that more songs in the G major key signature are streamed than in any other key signature. 

What makes G major such a great key signature? For one thing, the G major key signature has only one sharp. That means it’s almost as easy to play the G major piano scale as it is to play the C major piano scale, which has no sharps or flats. Also, the guitar chords for G major are easy to play and remember, making it a favorite key signature for any music with guitar. The notes and chords of the G major scale are easy to play both on the guitar and the piano, two instruments that are used very often in popular and classical Western music. This makes G major a great key for composing and performing songs.

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What are the notes of G Major scale?

The G major scale is a musical scale that starts on G and has one sharped note, F sharp. The notes of the G major scale are G, A, B, C, D, E, and F sharp. G is the simplest of the sharp key signatures, which are the key signatures where some of the letter-named notes are sharped, or in other words raised a half-step from their position in C major. 

Notice that the raised note is F sharp, the very last tone of the scale before the scale starts over on G. You’ll see this pattern continue as you go through all the sharp key signatures in order of increasing number of sharps, with the next one, the key of D, adding a C sharp (one note below D) to make two sharps, then the next one, the key of A, adding a G sharp (one note below A) to make three sharps, and so on.

What are the accidentals in the G major key signature?

The G major key signature has only one accidental, F sharp. This makes the key of G major very easy to play. When you’re reading music, you only have to remember to change all the F notes you see to F sharps. This makes it very easy to transpose from the key of C major to the key of G major.

How do you play the G major scale on piano? 

Let’s start with the G major pentascale. For your right hand, place fingers like this:

1 on G
2 on A
3 on B
4 on C
5 on D

For your left hand, place fingers like this:

5 on G
4 on A
3 on B
2 on C
1 on D

Notice that when you play the G major pentascale, you don’t need to use any accidentals. You won’t play the F sharp unless you’re playing the whole octave.

To play the G major one octave scale, start with your fingers in the same position as the pentascale and play like this:

Right hand placement for the G major piano scale:

1 on G
2 on A
3 on B
Cross thumb under
1 on C
2 on D
3 on E
4 on F sharp
5 on G

Left hand placement for the G major piano scale:

5 on G
4 on A
3 on B
2 on C
1 on D
Cross finger three over
3 on E
2 on F sharp
1 on G

When coming down the scale, simply reverse the finger order like this:

Right hand:

5 on G
4 on F sharp
3 on E
2 on D
1 on C
Cross finger three over
3 on B
2 on A
1 on G


Left hand:

1 on G
2 on F sharp
3 on E
Cross thumb under
1 on D
2 on C
3 on B
4 on A
5 on G

It can be a little tricky to play one octave scales with hands together because the right hand and left hand are crossing at different times. Here are a few ideas you can use to help you do this. 

First, play each hand separately, very slowly, until you’re completely comfortable with the G major scale notes for one hand at a time. Only then should you try putting your right and left hands together. 

Once you’re playing with both hands together, try singing or saying the letter names with reminders of when to cross over or under like this:

Going up: G, A, B, right C, D, left E, F sharp, G

Going down: G, F sharp, E, left D, C, right B, A, G

Instead of the words “right” and “left” you could also use “thumb” and “three.”

Going up: G, A, B, thumb C, D, three E, F sharp, G

Going down: G, F sharp, E, thumb D, C, three B, A, G

Try them both and see which one helps you the most! You can use tricks like this to help you play any scale with two hands, though the letter names, finger numbers, and the pattern of when to cross over and under will change depending on what scale you’re playing.

How do you differentiate the G major scale from the C major scale?

On the piano, playing the G major scale doesn’t feel that much different from the C major scale. When you play the G major piano scale, you’ll use the exact same fingering as when you play the scale of C major.  There’s only one note, F sharp, that changes when you move from C major to G major. Another important difference is that G major starts on the note G while C major starts on the note C.

If you’re transposing from the key of C to the key of G, you may notice that the sounds are either several notes lower or higher than they used to be. In fact, to transpose from C to G, you have to shift the entire melody line either five notes up or four notes down. It’s possible that if you were comfortable singing a song in the key of C, you’re not going to be so comfortable singing it in the key of G. On the other hand, if the key of C felt too low or too high for you, you can try transposing and singing it in G instead. 

What chords can be used with the G major piano scale?

The three most common chords used with the G major scale are the I chord, which is also called the tonic chord and starts on G, the IV chord, which is called the subdominant chord and starts on C, and the V chord, which is the dominant chord and starts on D. 

G major I chord: G – B – D

G major IV chord: C – E – G

G major V chord: D – F sharp – A

Another chord you’ll see used a lot with the G major piano scale is G major’s vi chord, the E minor chord, which is the tonic chord of the relative minor for G major.

G major vi chord: E – G – B

Other chords in G major include the ii chord, a minor chord which starts on A, the iii chord, a minor chord which starts on B, and the vii chord, a diminished chord which starts on F sharp.

G major ii chord: A – C – E

G major iii chord: B – D – F sharp

G major vii chord: F sharp – A – C

Examples of songs in the G major scale

One of the first classical pieces in G major that students often learn is Bach’s famous Minuet in G. You may also have heard this lovely Sonatina in G by Beethoven. 

Some of the many popular songs that have been recorded in the key of G include “A Hard Day’s Night” by the Beatles, “Part of Your World” from Disney’s The Little Mermaid, and “Geronimo” by Sheppard. To hear these and more great songs in the key of G, listen to our Songs in G Major playlist on Spotify.

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