Japanese Scale: Theory & Ear Training

Enjoy this utterly simple, but deliciously distinctive scale from the Land of the Rising Sun…

C Japanese Scale Theory…

  1. The scale structure of the Japanese Scale is always 1-b2-4-5-b6-1, no matter what key you are in.
  2. The Solfege syllables of the Japanese Scale are always Do-Ra-Fa-So-Le-Do, no matter what key you are in.
  3. The only thing that changes when you change keys are the letter names.

Comparative Scale Study

Notice that the Japanese Scale is a subset of the Middle Eastern Scale… and notice the dramatic effect of removing two notes: Mi and Ti, creating a dreamy quality that is instantly recognized as Japanese!

Solfege Ear Training

Reading, playing, and singing the Solfege syllables out loud is an extremely effective way to tune up your ears and to internalize the unique sound-feeling of each note in the scale with respect to the key center Do. Make sure to do this slowly enough for the unique sound-feeling of each Solfege syllable to make a meaningful impression on your mind’s ear.

C Japanese Scale: Linear, Ascending…


C Japanese Scale: Linear, Descending…


C Japanese Scale: Do-X-Do, Ascending…


C Japanese Scale: Do-X-Do, Descending…


Note: While it’s possible to continue by singing a bunch of other musical patterns, the 80-20 Principle teaches us that a more efficient approach is to get your ear training material directly from the music that YOU want to play!

learn more… Ways to Know a Scale: Introduction