What is Music Theory?

As math is to an engineer, so is music theory to a composer. You can solve problems without math, but it certainly helps and in some cases you probably wouldn’t be able to solve it without math. Many people wind up using math without realizing it. Math is a framework for abstract ideas, similarly music theory is a framework for the abstract ideas of music.

You can write music without knowing music theory, music theory is really just giving names to common patterns that you notice in music. It’s giving names to the ideas you hear all the time so you can recognize them and use them with greater purpose. It’s the same as how counting developed into the number system. Notes evolved into the harmony system we have today.

Say for example you constantly hear the same groups of notes used again and again. You pick up on this and decide to use the same groups of notes in your own music to try and get a similar effect. You have just done music theory and discovered what will eventually lead you to scales!

This is why music theory is useful. It doesn’t limit your potential or stifle your creativity, but instead opens you up to it. Math and music theory can be taught in a way that seems very rigid if learned in isolation, but when you are applying what you learn to actual problems you want to solve music theory suddenly don’t seem like a set of rules you have to follow to get the right answer but instead it feels like the key, the very solution to what your trying to do. It takes creativity to use tools to make something.

Music theory is simply recognizing musical ideas. Using these music ideas is composition. It matters because it is one of the most enabling tools you can have to progress in music quickly. It will help you write songs, beats, tracks, work with musicians, jam out, run recording sessions, and appreciate music more.

It is with this approach that I make and improve upon this series. An eager mind and a willingness to practice and study is all that’s needed. For additonal resources there is:

  • My book: Sound and Synth Basics
  • The discord server
  • My website: www.composinggloves.com

and the community to help you along. Thank you for choosing me as a teacher.

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