Music theory is the key to excelling as a musician, music teacher, or composer.
You’ve heard about music theory and know it might help you gain more skill sets, but you’re not sure if it’s worth your time. What if it’s too difficult to understand? Will I benefit from it in any way? Will it truly help me?
Music theory is simple. There, I said it.
The skill sets you learn dramatically increase your musicianship and creativity. If you want to get better as a musician, learn music theory. If you want to write music, learn music theory. If you want to become an in-demand music teacher that can charge higher prices, learn music theory.
But, before you get started, let’s talk about what you can expect to learn.
What Do You Learn in Music Theory?
What you learn in music theory are the elements of music and how to apply them. These fundamentals help you understand what you are hearing, writing, and performing. The basic elements of music in standard written notation include pitch, melody, harmony, rhythm, form, texture, timbre or tone color, and tonality.
It is also the study of patterns and relationships. One example of how this works is with scales.
Notes or pitches are placed together in a specific way in order to achieve different sounds. Notes written and played horizontally (or one at a time) follow a pattern of whole steps and half steps. This formula creates a scale. A scale is used as the basis of a key signature and an entire piece of music.
Wikipedia calls these music elements rudiments. These are the building blocks of music notation. When they are grouped together, interesting sounds begin to happen.
Another example is how chords are built and used. Notes stacked up on top of each other create a chord. All pitches are played together at the same time. The result is harmony.
The notes in the chord also follow a specific formula, giving it a unique sound. A chord uses notes from a scale and gives more texture to the overall sound of a piece of music. It also supports the melody line which is based on a scale.
Scales and chords are just types of things learned in music theory. There are many more that go into far more detail. Of course, the more you learn, the better musician you become.
What You Learn in Music Theory Summary
In music theory, expect to learn about the elements of music in detail and how it is used in music. All elements follow specific patterns and have interesting relationships. Learning about how this works will not only help you appreciate music more, it will also help you excel as a musician and composer.