Music Theory

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Welcome to our free online music theory lessons. Click on one of the lesson topics below to learn more about it. Keep in mind that most of the topics below will explore a topic completely. In other words, in the scale construction topic, major scale construction is important for beginners, however, learning how to build a harmonic minor scale should be left to more advanced music theorists, since there is little application at the level of a beginning or intermediate musician. The modules below are numbered in the suggested viewing order.

Music Theory Lessons

1. Beginning Music Theory

2. Scale Construction

3. Intervals and Harmony

4. Chord Construction

5. Chord Substitution

6. Chord Progressions

7. Key Determination

8. Modes

9. Reading Music: Notes

10. Reading Music: Rhythm and Timing

11. Reading Music: Symbology

12. Organized Blues

What Is Music Theory?

Music theory is the study of music from a technical perspective, with one essential driving purpose; to answer those nagging questions of “why” and “how”. For example, we may ask questions such as:

  • Why do certain notes sound good together, and other notes do not?
  • Why do some songs sound sad, and others sound happy, powerful, or melancholic?
  • How can you listen to a song and know what notes to play?

These are obviously a mere handful of the questions that you may have. If you have every asked yourself a question like one of those listed above, then you are in the right place. In our music theory video lessons, we hope to break down every concept so that every one can enjoy and understand music at their own pace.

As you can see, we still have a long ways to go to open up new music theory topics, but we are hard at working recording, editing, and uploading new video lessons for you each week.

Why Should I Learn Music Theory?

From experience, your average musician knows very little of music theory. They may know something about the notes in music, and the bare essentials to be able to apply it to their instrument, but in general, most modern musicians are highly uneducated in the world of music. If you decide to educate yourself, you will find that you appreciate music in a far deeper way, and will be able to start explaining some of the natural phenomena that occurs in music.

Another reason to learn music theory is that you will earn the respect of your fellow peers as you improve vastly, leaving most of your friends in the proverbial dust of your educated mind. In all seriousness, other musicians will start asking you questions about how to solve music problems, such as determining the key, or transposing music.

Finally, if you are at all serious about music, then the time spent on watching our music theory video lessons should be looked at as a mere investment of time. The greater your investment, the greater your reward. We sincerely hope you enjoy and appreciate the journey of music as much as we love it.




Is There Such A Thing As Learning Too Much Music Theory?

Absolutely not! Too clarify, there are some that think that by learning “too much” music theory that you will stifle your creativity. This is just not the case, and in fact, the opposite is true. The more music theory you learn, the more creative you become. For example, if you consider a great piece of architecture, would you think that the designer was a very creative person with little technical knowledge of physics and building design, or someone who has highly knowledgeable about modern building designs and creative. It’s clear that when we look at skilled work, there is both a level of technical ability, and creativity. Having one doesn’t render the other useless, but rather enhances it. An architect can only design the simplest of buildings if he has no imagination. Furthermore, an artist may draw an incredible design on paper, but without any knowledge of building codes, it is a useless drawing and will never come to fruition. 

As a musician, you write songs in one of three ways:

Songwriting By Accident

This happens all the time and really cannot be discounted. There have been plenty of songs written where the notes were not intentional. The artist may have made a mistake, but soon realized that it was a good mistake. This happens all the time, and is no way due to creativity, but rather, blind luck

Songwriting Through Creativity

This is another great way to write songs. As a musician you can decide to go out of your box, and try something new. That may be writing a song with a different instrument, a different tuning, or even just changing the location of where you write songs at. By changing the location, you are also changing the input stream of your experience (ie. smells, sounds, temperatures, light, etc), which will more than likely have an affect on your mood and in turn the notes that you play. The key word here is to experiment. Experiment with new instruments, tunings, locations, styles, chords, etc. Anything you can do to change the input stream is a valid experiment and worth looking into. 

Songwriting Through Music Theory

Finally, let’s explore songwriting through music theory. This involves understanding what kind of experience you are trying to create. In other words, you may be trying to create a sad song, a happy song, or an empowering song. What kind of emotional experience do you want the listener to experience? If you know music theory, then more than likely, you can just reach into your mental box o’ theory and pull out some chords, chord progressions, melodies, harmonies, or other ideas, and get to the problem right away. In other words, using music theory to write songs is incredibly efficient and gets results faster. 

On the other hand, if we consider a musician who doesn’t know music theory, then they only have the first two methods at their disposal. It makes sense to me to have more tools in my toolbox. I would much rather have more tools to problem solve than fewer. In that sense, if you know music theory, you have a better opportunity to write a song. You may write a song by an accident, through creativity, or through the use of music theory. 

In closing, music theory is an incredibly important topic since it teaches you the foundations of music, helps you communicate more effectively with other musicians, helps you write more and better songs, and finally, helps us to answer the questions of “why”, and “how”. With that said, I hope you enjoy the music theory video lessons that we have put together for you in this module.