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AAA Music | 27 January 2021

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Interested in Music Theory? Here’s What You Need to Know

| On 31, Dec 2020

Similar to any language, music theory enables us to understand the structure and meaning behind a musical composition. It explains what we hear and allows us to speak with other musicians in a common language. Having at least basic knowledge is key to really understanding the instrument you play and fully exploring its potential. The same goes for composing pieces of music. The music and the instruments are evolving every day, and more instruments mean more music being created. This led to a sudden interest in music theory. If you are a music enthusiast, here is what you need to know to get started with learning more about it.

What Is Music Theory?

Simply put, it is the study of the different elements of music. Being the language of music it covers everything from notes and scales to rhythm and timbre. Music theory is necessary to learn before one can compose music, even though there are rare examples of this not being particularly true. So, if you want to get into music composition more seriously or just get to know the art of music, it should be best to start with learning music theory. The main elements and symbols that act as words of music are notes, scales, keys, intervals, chords, rhythm, and timbre. 

Common Misconceptions

Many people, including some (amateur) musicians, think that learning music theory is boring, or that it’s just unimportant. Being bored by learning theory might mean that you are not that into music after all. Additionally, when learning music theory, you learn about the art of music and also improve your listening skills, so it can’t ever be considered unnecessary. Another major misconception is that you don’t need to know music theory to be able to write music. This feels like saying you don’t have to know letters and words to be able to write a book. 

The Subsets of Music Theory

In the wide world of music, one size does not necessarily fit all. And it shouldn’t. Imagine how boring all the music would be if every composition was written in the same style. There are many different types of music theory. However, the two you are most likely to learn in a music school or a course are classical and jazz. They evolved from different styles and use diverse elements to produce a unique type of music. If you want to pursue music in university or beyond that, you’ll probably need to cover both of these styles, and maybe even more.

How to Get Started?

Not only will the decision to learn music theory add to your music education experience, but it will improve your general education. There are many options to choose from when starting with music theory lessons. They are normally included in all musical schools. However, you don’t have to attend music school to get the knowledge you want in this field. There are various private lesson options available, both face to face or in a form of online courses. If getting online music theory education feels appealing, there is more here to be found in this modern way of updating your musical background. This is particularly helpful for those who are more visual learners as these online courses use videos that will tell you everything you need to know about music theory.

It Will Help You Get Creative

Many people believe that music theory is unnecessary. Many also see it often as a set of strict rules that stifle our creativity and freedom of expression. This is yet another misconception when it comes to understanding music theory. Quite opposite to this belief, a musician who is familiar with the ‘rules’ will apply them correctly when they fit. As a result, they will be in full control and have much greater freedom with their instruments. Having at least a basic theory knowledge helps musicians break away from what has been done before. It makes it easier to come up with new ideas, different melodies, new chords, and progressions.

It Will Boost Your Music Performance

There are two significant things that musicians continuously work on – reading and memorizing music. Any deeper understanding of music theory makes both of these tasks unbelievably easier. Performance majors are mostly required to perform their music from memory. Many young musicians rely heavily on tactile memory which is not the greatest idea. Performers must understand the structure of every piece they perform and this is not easily possible without a solid music theory background. A deep understanding of the piece influences every interpretive decision you will make learning at least the basics of music theory will help you take a step forward in your overall understanding and appreciation of music.  Regardless if you are a complete beginner in the world of music or want to improve your music performance, have in mind that signing up for a music theory course will only serve you well.