Music Theory 101 Part 1 [TUTORIAL]

What is Music? What makes it different from the rest of the sounds out there? Why does it have such a profound impact on us? What gives it the ability to express and convey such a broad range of emotions, from happiness to sadness, from despair to triumph, from terror to awe, with everything in between? Music theory has the answers. Whether you’re an aspiring musician, a hobbyist, or a seasoned professional, music theory is one of the most essential tools in your arsenal.

In this course, we’ll look into the four core elements of music to give you the essential information necessary to decode musical material, both by ear and by sight. By the time you’re done with this course, you should be able to notice some major improvements when it comes to:

When everyone speaks the same language, exchange of information becomes a breeze. It is much easier and way more effective to tell your fellow band members to play Fmaj over A than showing them the actual notes you want them to play.

Suppose you’re working on an arrangement. You want to add a piano part in a low register, played in close position triads. Unless you’re aiming for creating a very specific effect, knowing music theory will spare you from needless experiments because you already know it won’t sound good. It would muddy up your arrangement and make it sound heavy and dark, occupying much of the frequency spectrum usually reserved for bass instruments.

Just like certain words are used to convey specific information, certain combinations of sounds are used to evoke specific emotions. If you’re scoring a movie and are tasked with creating a short musical impression of a military camp, for example, knowing music theory will probably steer you in the direction of using some kind of horn call. If it’s a military camp after a great victory, you will be tempted to use Horn Fifths.

Whether you hear music on the radio, in a mall or restaurant, or inside your own head, music theory will help you decode it, so that you can later reproduce it using an instrument of your choice, your own voice, or a DAW. Relative pitch, which is being able to recognize intervals, chords, and their relationships within the context of a specific piece of music, is the absolute must for a musician. This will save you tons of time you would otherwise spend trying to guess the melody and harmony note by note. In other words, you’ll be able to play by ear – a skill that is extremely valuable and envied by many.

One last thing: music is a language. We don’t need any special skills to enjoy listening to a foreign language, but to speak and understand it, we must know its laws, vocabulary, grammar, punctuation etc. By the same token, we can enjoy listening to music without any special preparation; but to speak and understand the language of music, we must know its rules and conventions – i.e., we need music theory. This course is for those who wish to improve on their musical language skills. See you in the first lesson!

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