Music Theory


Music theory is a tool musicians use to understand and communicate the language of music. Music theory examines the fundamentals of music. It also provides a system for interpreting musical compositions.

For example, basic music theory defines the elements that form harmony, melody, and rhythm. It identifies compositional elements such as song form, tempo, notes, chords, key signatures, intervals, scales, and more. It also recognizes musical qualities such as pitch, tone, timbre, texture, dynamics, and others.

What is Music Theory?

Music is all around us. People sing, play instruments, and listen to music on many devices. But what is music, and how is it made? Consider this basic definition. Music is a way of putting sounds and tones together in a specific order, combining them to create an organized sound.

People have made music for thousands of years, at first with their voices and then with simple instruments made from natural materials around them. Musical traditions were likely passed from one generation to another. Eventually, later generations wanted to better understand the ideas behind the sounds. That’s how music theory developed.

Music theory is the term for ideas that help us understand music. It explains what music does and what’s going on when we hear it. Music theory puts the ideas and practices of music into a written form where they can be studied and passed on to others. It’s a way to describe and explain music and how it’s constructed. So, think of music theory as a means to understand the language of music.

How to learn music theory?

Music theory is a complex and extensive subject. There are several practices, disciplines, and concepts.

It’s best to learn music fundamentals first before exploring advanced music theory. The building blocks that form musical compositions include:

  • Harmony
  • Melody
  • Rhythm

1. Harmony: This is when multiple notes or voices are played at the same time to create a new sound. The combined sounds in harmonies complement one another and sound pleasing. Chords and chord progressions are examples of harmony. A chord has three or more notes that play at the same time. The chords and chord progressions in a piece of music support or complement the melody.

Combining vocal parts also creates harmony. The combined voices of a choir are a perfect example. The multiple voices that make up a choir blend to make a harmonious sound.

However, not all harmonies are pleasing to our ears. There are two main types of harmony: dissonant and consonant.

  • Dissonant harmony adds notes that do not sound pleasant when played together. The result adds tension and makes the chord sound unstable. This tension is released by resolving into consonant chords. Dissonant interval examples are seconds, sevenths, and ninths.
  • Consonant harmony sounds stable and pleasing. All the notes in a consonant chord have intervals that play nicely together. Constant chords also transition smoothly from one another in a progression. Examples of consonant intervals are unison, thirds, fifths, and octaves.

Musicians combine consonant and dissonant harmonies to make the music more exciting and intriguing.

  1. A melody in music is a succession of notes or voices arranged into a musical phrase. A song’s melody is often the most memorable and recognizable part. Melodies can be created with instruments or vocals. They have two or more notes in a sequence that sounds musically pleasing. Most compositions comprise multiple melodies that repeat. The two primary elements of a melody are pitch and rhythm:
  • Pitch is the audio vibration produced by an instrument or voice. It’s how high or low a note will sound. Arranging these pitches in a series creates a melody.
  • Rhythm, or duration, is the length of each pitch’s sound. These durations are divided into beat divisions like whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, triplets, etc.
  1. Rhythm in Music: Rhythm is an essential element of music with more than one meaning. For example,
  • Rhythm is the recurring movement of notes and rests (silences) in time. It’s the human perception of time.
  • Rhythm also describes a pattern of strong and weak notes or voices that repeat throughout a song. These patterns can be created with drums, percussion, instruments, and vocals.

The basic elements that comprise musical rhythm include:

  • Beat: A repeating pulse that underlies a musical pattern.
  • A specific pattern of strong and weak pulses
  • The time signature is the number of beats per measure.
  • The tempo (BPM) of a piece of music shows how fast or slow it plays.
  • Strong and Weak Beats: Strong beats are the downbeats, and weak beats are
  • The beats are the offbeats between the downbeats.
  • SyncopaBeat: Rhythms that accent or emphasize the offbeats.
  • Accents are the emphasis, or intensity placed on notes.

Understanding rhythm will help you create great harmonies and melodies. Also, the rhythm section, or pulse, propels a piece of music. It acts as the rhythmic backbone for other musical elements.

The Advantages of Music Theory

Learning basic music theory is essential for enhancing creativity and developing musical awareness. It’s a challenging but rewarding set of skills to learn. Knowing how music works will make the music production process easier and help you become an effective music producer.

Is learning music theory required? No. However, you can benefit from learning some aspects of music theory. For example, learning basic music theory will:

  • Improve your musical development.
  • helps you understand how music works.
  • It helps you break through creative blocks.
  • Make it easier to build chord progressions and melodies.
  • helps you make informed composition decisions.
  • It will help you achieve expression and evoke emotion.
  • Improve your critical listening skills.
  • Speed up your workflow.
  • Improve your musical form skills.
  • Make it easy to communicate with other musicians.
  • Deepen your appreciation for music.
  • Improve your improvisation skills.
  • Improve your song arrangement skills.
  • help you discover new creative possibilities.


Making music is fundamental to human nature, and you don’t need to take music theory classes to be a musician. But understanding music theory can help you better grasp ideas of how music is made and better read them. It’s helpful if you want to compose music of your own. It’s also helpful if you want to arrange a work, which means shifting how the music’s written to make it appropriate for different ensembles.

Piano Music Online


The piano is one of the most beautiful and beloved musical instruments in the world. Besides its unmatched musical potential, there are a surprising number of benefits associated with learning how to play the piano music and practicing/playing regularly.

Whether you’re pressing your first keys or performing for sold-out theaters, I hope to inspire you to continue your musical journey with the piano as you read this article. There is so much to gain from learning a musical instrument like the piano, and I’ve selected what I believe to be the top five reasons.

1.. Thanks to MIDI, learning and playing the piano music unlocks all other instruments:

This technically applies to all keyboard instruments, though becoming a skilled pianist lends itself to this benefit as well. With modern audio technology, there are plenty of virtual instruments to choose from. MIDI information largely controls these instruments and what better way to provide MIDI information than with a MIDI keyboard?

If we can become proficient at playing the piano, we can effectively trigger any virtual instrument, including synthesizers, orchestral instruments, drums, and even folly and effects.

The one thing to watch out for here is that not all instruments play like the piano. Barely any do (besides the organ and some synths). Therefore, when controlling a virtual instrument with a keyboard, do your best to study and play the instrument’s limitations on how that instrument would be played naturally. For example, a trumpet plays one note at a time in a 3-octave range, so don’t play the full 7+ octave range with 88-note polyphony (unless you’re being experimental).

  1. Learning and Playing the Piano Provides Skills Transferable to All Other Keyboard Instruments:

This benefit also applies to all chromatic keyboard instruments. The layout of the piano is super clean and simple, with each successive key being a semitone interval above the previous (from left to right). Learning the piano keyboard will allow a musician to reign over all styles of piano, from upright and grand to digital and electric. Many other instruments, including the organ, marimba, vibraphone, xylophone, glockenspiel, some synthesizers, and some accordions, also shared this layout.

Though these instruments differ in how they produce sound, their note layout (keyboards) is largely the same. Learning the notes, intervals, chord shapes, and patterns of the piano will set us up for success when it comes time to play these other keyboard instruments.

  1. Playing the piano improves discipline and concentration:

Learning any musical instrument takes a significant investment of time and effort. Learning and playing the piano at a high level takes discipline and concentration.

These skills (discipline and concentration) can be learned and developed with conscious practice. From the mechanics to the in-depth theory, learning to play the piano is a fun way to develop discipline and concentration. Mastering the piano takes a tremendous amount of discipline and concentration, which are traits we can use in many other aspects of our lives.

  1. Learning and Playing the Piano Improves Music Understanding:

In the previous section, I mentioned how many piano pieces split the hands into rhythm/bass and harmony/melody. The piano is a unique polyphonic instrument that allows for such an arrangement. Pianists have the great benefit of performing and understanding the full range of musical notes and harmony.

The piano is perhaps the best instrument to learn theory with. My primary instrument is the guitar. However, I’d much rather learn theory with the piano. There are several reasons for this:

  • There’s only one of each note, represented by a single key. He ordered the notes from left to right in semitone interval increments.
  • The polyphony voice count is 88 (one voice per note).
  • The sustain pedal can keep notes ringing for extended periods.

Note that when I write music theory, I’m referring to Western music theory, based on the 12-tone equal temperament tuning system.

The piano is a superior instrument for learning theory as we can see and hear the intervals and chords we’re producing; quickly add layers of harmony beyond our 10 fingers thanks to the sustain pedal; access a range of 7 octaves (plus an additional 3 keys); and play this entire range simultaneously. With the piano, we have an entire world of harmony, melody, and rhythm at our fingertips.

Compare that to other common polyphonic instruments like the guitar, which has a maximum of 6 voices (in its 6-string version) and 4 octaves (in its 24-fret versions). A popular monophonic instrument like the saxophone has a single voice and only spans about two and a half octaves.

  1. Playing and learning the piano boosts confidence:

As we learn how to play the piano and can play the music on the page or in our heads, we have proof that we are becoming successful with the instrument. The piano gives us immediate auditory feedback as we play, which tells us if we’re on the right track or not. As we go through the process of becoming better piano players, it’s only natural that the confidence gained spills over to other areas of our lives. If we can learn how to play the piano, surely we can learn other things, including how to play other musical instruments, so long as we put our minds to it.

We can get to a point where we’re able to play with and/or for other musicians and audiences. In doing so, playing the piano can help us overcome shyness and stage fright. Developing the confidence to perform in front of friends, family, strangers, and even virtually/online will pay dividends in many other aspects of our lives. Learning the piano allows us to engage in such performances.

Learning and playing the piano aids in the development of relationships:

Whether you’re a professional performer or a casual player, learning the piano can help you make new lifelong friends. After all, music brings people together, and if you can play a song or two or understand the piano, there are plenty of other players who share your interest and/or passion.

The relationships range from teacher-student to jam friends, music fans, and professional colleagues (if you decide to go pro and join an orchestra or similar group).


However, you go about it, learning the piano can make you a more compelling person and spark conversations that may have otherwise not happened.

If you’ve developed the skill and confidence to play live, you’ll certainly meet venue owners, music fans, and other musicians. Music excels as a social art, and it makes it much easier to meet new people and develop deeper connections.