Chromatic Scale –
The Ultimate Pitching Exercise Challenge!

Chromatic Scales can be deemed as one of the most challenging musical scales, and are also great pitching exercises for budding singers to practise with!

The reason why they are so challenging is because when we sing this scale, we are effectively singing all the notes on the piano, black and white keys included! This means that we are singing in semitones, and this is extremely beneficial to our pitching and hearing ability, because we would then be able to pitch and also detect smaller variations in pitch!

If we write the chromatic scale out in solfege, it would look like this:

1 (Doh), 1# (Di), 2 (Re), 2# (Ri), 3 (Mi), 4 (Fa), 4# (Fi), 5 (Sol)

5# (Si), 6 (La), 6# (Li), 7 (Ti), 1 (High Doh)

One point to note: Each sharp note has its equivalent name in ‘flats’. For example, a 1# (Di) note would also be called 2b (Ra), and they both refer to the same note. This is what we would call enharmonic notes, meaning notes with different names but exactly the same sound or pitch.

In the same way, here are the various enharmonic notes in a chromatic scale:

1) 1# (Di) = 2b (Ra)
2) 2# (Ri) = 3b (Meh)
3) 4# (Fi) = 5b (Seh)
4) 5# (Si) = 6b (Leh)
5) 6# (Li) = 7b (Teh)

Knowing the correct names to sing for each scale is another topic to talk about next time, but for us to be able to practise all these names, perhaps when we sing the chromatic scale in an ascending fashion, we can use all the ‘sharp’ names like Ri and Fi, and when we sing in a descending fashion, we can use all the ‘flat’ names like Leh and Teh.

Before we embark on actually singing this challenging scale, please do make sure you do your vocal warmups properly, and also be sure to practise good breath support so as to avoid vocal abuse or damage. For those who wish to play the chromatic scale on the piano or another musical instrument, just make sure that you end on whichever note that you may start on, but one octave higher, and be sure to play all the notes, including the sharps or flats, within the specific octave. I have uploaded some great practice music here for those who wish to challenge their pitching right here on this website! Just click on the specific scale you wish to practise, and follow the notes that i have played in the music. It is good practice to listen to the music a few times first to get the correct key before actually starting to sing along to the music, so that you achieve maximum results when singing these pitching exercises. In the music, I have sounded the first note of the scale, then slowly climbed upwards 1 semitone at a time until i end on the same note but one octave higher. This trains us to be able to pitch semitones well, and also to be more aware of smaller changes in pitch, making our hearing ability sharper and keeping us more in tune when we sing!

B Flat (Bb) Chromatic Progression

B Chromatic Progression

C Chromatic Progression

C Sharp (C#) Chromatic Progression

D Chromatic Progression

D Sharp (D#) Chromatic Progression

E Chromatic Progression

Do also check out my section on ‘Singing Problems’, in order to understand more about these common singing problems, and be ever watchful that you do not commit these bad habits when you sing or when you are practising these pitching exercises!

For those who would like to understand more about the Chromatic Scale and its structure, here is a very useful diagram:

Chromatic Scale Structure


Looking at the diagram, we can see the various notes (all labelled as sharps for convenience) in a chromatic progression, and we notice that there are no spare notes in the octave! All the notes are used, black and white keys included, and it really is quite a challenge for us to be able to sing these small changes in pitch within the constraints of a simple octave!

If you would like to listen to something that has a lot of semitones or uses parts of a chromatic scale, check out the song – ‘Flight of the Bumblebee’! This is a classical piano song which has lots of semitones and extensive usage of the chromatic scale, and it really is very exhilarating to listen to!

Click on this link to check out a video of popular pianist Maksim playing this song, and it should get your heart pumping real fast! (Of course i do not expect you to be able to sing so fast…)

Practising all these pitching exercises and scales sometimes makes our voices tire out, and it is good practice to be sure to take good care of our voices by following some of the useful tips that i have provided for you on my website. These tips should guide you towards protecting your voice and keeping it healthy during your pitching practices.

Once you master the extremely challenging Chromatic Scale Pitching Exercise, you would certainly be many steps ahead in your quest for great singing!

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