A lovely, mellow scale to learn: the Eb piano scale! With 3 flats, Eb has a similar fingering to the Bb and Ab scales. I’ll show you exactly how to play it today, with note diagrams, fingering help and more!
What is the Eb scale in piano?
The Eb scale, simply put, is a major scale that both starts and ends on the note “E flat.” It follows the typical pattern of half steps and whole steps that builds a major scale. As a result, we get a scale with 3 flats—Eb, Ab, and Bb.
What are the notes in the Eb major scale?
The notes in an Eb scale are as follows: Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C, and finally D. I’ll show you diagrams and sheet music with these notes soon.
BEFORE You Begin
Wait! Before you continue reading, it is important that you have learned some other scales. Eb is not a beginner scale, so if you have never learned a scale before, this is not the place for you.
Instead, I would recommend learning white key scales before any black key scales. Here’s a list of articles on white key scales you can check out:
Once you’ve learned all of those, then you’re ready to progress to Eb!
Black Key Scale Basics
There are some important black key scale basics to talk about when you’re just getting started. We already covered this when talking about the Db and F# scale, but let’s still review once again for Eb.
Remember, black key scales have very different fingerings from white key scales as I mentioned earlier, so it is helpful to have some patterns to refer to.
It is the groupings of the black notes that also determine the fingering. Humor me for a second, and form the number two with your fingers (so hold up your 2nd and 3rd fingers). Now, place these on the two black notes. Those are the fingers we almost ALWAYS play on those black notes in the scales.
Now, form the number 3 with your fingers, in a W form (2nd, 3rd, and 4th fingers). Place these fingers on the 3 black notes. Those are the fingers we almost ALWAYS play on this group of black notes in scales!
The previous group of scales we learned (Db and F#/Gb) both followed this rule to a T. However, you’ll see soon ARE exceptions to this rule. Eb stays true to the rule in one hand but breaks the rule in the other hand. Read on to see what I mean.
E Flat Scale Piano Notes & Fingerings
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get right into the details about the E flat scale! Below you can start looking at the notes in the scale on a piano diagram. You will also find the fingerings for both right and left hand underneath.
How to Play the Eb Scale on the Piano
To play the Eb scale on the piano, press down each note shown in the diagram above, starting with the Eb on the far left and working your way to the Eb on the far right. Each note should be played as its own distinct note, yet still connected (don’t blur them together, but also don’t play them too short).
As far as fingering, Eb is nice because both hands start with the 3rd finger. The left hand fingering is exactly the same as the Db scale. Note that this means the fingering doesn’t quite fit the rule we talked about earlier (having W’s on the 3 black notes and 2’s on the 2 black notes). There are exceptions to this rule, and this is one of them.
However, the right hand follows the rule perfectly! Start with your 3 on Eb, and immediately tuck your thumb under to F and then play 2 on G. Now play your 3 on Ab and your 4 on Bb (this is where the rule works nicely!) Tuck your thumb under again to play see, and then finish with 2 on D and 3 on Eb.
Whew, you made it! I know that fingering will feel a bit different compared to Db and F#. But it still has 2 finger crosses, and it adheres to the rule, so that should help with memorization.
Eb Major Scale On The Staff
Next up, take a look at the Eb major scale on both treble and bass clef below. It is a good idea not only to look at the scale on the piano, but also in sheet music form.
Some Scale Tips
Black key scales are truly a whole new ballgame compared to white key scales. So if you’re still having some trouble, here are some tips that have helped my students when learning these scales:
The key to black key scales is finding the pattern. You can always find some kind of “group” of notes in a particular scale to help you remember. For Eb, we have a group of 3 notes at the beginning, and a group of 4 notes at the end. The black notes start each of the groups: there is one black note (Eb) in the first group and 2 black notes (Ab and Bb) in the second group.
Take your time and go slowly. It’s okay if the fingering makes your head spin and you have to go at a snail’s pace. Black key scales take time to get used to and they also take time to master and memorize. Take it one step at a time. Learn and memorize each hand separately before you try to put them together.
Pay attention to the white notes! In the Eb scale, the white notes come in groups of two. You’ll have F and G together, and then C and D together. The black keys are all in between.
All major scales follow a formula as far as intervals go. Here is this formula: W-W-H-W-W-W-H. The W’s stand for “whole step” and the H’s stand for “half step.
So written out the long way, the formula is: whole step, whole step, half step, whole step, whole step, half step.
You can use this formula any time to figure out a major scale!
When you use this formula, it also creates a relationship between the tonic (the very first note) and all the other notes. An interval can be formed between the tonic and each note of the scale. Here’s what that looks like for Eb major:
- Tonic: Eb
- Major 2nd: F
- Major 3rd: G
- Perfect 4th: Ab
- Perfect 5th: Bb
- Major 6th: C
- Major 7th: D
- Perfect 8th: Eb
Another way to look at a scale is by “degrees.” Here are the scale degrees for the key of Eb:
- Tonic: Eb
- Supertonic: F
- Mediant: G
- Subdominant: Ab
- Dominant: Bb
- Submediant: C
- Leading tone: D
- Octave: Eb
Triad Chords In The Key Of Eb
Did you know a chord can also be built off of EVERY note in the Eb scale? That’s right! It is a great exercise to practice finding these chords in each key. For Eb there are only 3 flat chords to worry about, so it isn’t too hard.
Chord I: Eb major (notes are Eb – G – Bb)
Chord ii: F minor (notes are F – Ab – C)
Chord iii: G minor (notes are G – Bb – D)
Chord IV: Ab major (notes are Ab – C – Eb)
Chord V: Bb major (notes are Bb – D – F)
Chord vi: C minor (notes are C – Eb – G)
Chord vii: D diminished (notes are D – F – Ab)
Is Eb Major The Same As C Minor?
C minor is not the exact same key as Eb major, but it is called the “relative minor.” All major keys have relative minors! This basically just means they have the same number of sharps in the key signature.
How do you write an E flat scale?
Great question! You can write an E flat scale simply by getting a piece of blank sheet music and copying the notes and flats from the sheet music diagram I have in this article. OR, another way to write Eb is to notate the key signature on the left hand side of the music, and then write the notes without flats next to them. Either way, it is a great idea to practice writing out scales in this fashion!
Scales To Learn Next:
Congrats, you’ve now learned 3 black key scales! There are still 2 more unique ones to learn: Ab major, and then Bb major. I do recommend learning them in this order. Eb, Ab, and Bb are what I like to call the “second group” because they have a lot of similarities.
While those are all the unique scales to learn, you can also check out enharmonic versions of those scales (meaning the same notes, but different spellings). These include Gb major and C# major. The nice thing about these scales is you are basically just learning them for music theory understanding. You’ll already know the fingerings since they are the equivalent of F# major and Db major.
More Music Theory:
Don’t stop at scales—there is plenty more music theory to learn, like chords! Here is a list of some black key chords that are worthwhile to learn alongside black key scales:
The Eb scale is a great scale to learn after Db major and F# major. It has a beautiful mellow sound, and includes just 3 flats. Definitely practice this one until you master it! Start by playing slowly with separate hands, and then gradually build up speed and put them together. The end result will be 100% worth it, I promise!