What Is Music Theory? FAQs

1) What is music theory?

Music theory is the language of musical construction. Those who understand the language of music, those who can read and write music are called musicians. Just as people who share a common language communicate everyday, musicians communicate through a common musical language.

The language musicians communicate in is not by speaking but rather by the use of sheet music. Sheet music contains information that allows musicians to play the same piece of music on their instruments regardless of which language they speak. People all around the world communicate through the language of music and that is why music is called the universal language.

2) Do I need to know music theory in order to play a musical instrument?

This is a tricky question and the answer is yes and no. Allow me to explain. If some noise or sound has rhythm, a melody, and harmony, it can be called music. Without these components it is simply noise or organized noise.

A musician, someone who understands music theory and is able to communicate in the language of music, will compose a piece of music and know what they are doing and why they are doing it. A musician will know the name of the notes, chords, and scales they are using and more important, they will know why the musical composition works or sounds good.

A musician does not need to hear the musical composition to know wether or not certain notes and chords sound good when played together, because the theory has already determined what note and chord families will sound good together and why it is so.

On the other hand many people who play music, do play by ear. Many of those who play by ear do not know the name of the notes, chords, and scales they are playing, yet they are able to create a musical composition that is pleasing to the ear of the listener.

Players who learn and create music by ear have developed a good sense of pitch and as they continue to train their ear, their ability to identify notes, chords, and qualities of chords, will improve.

Typically, those who play by ear are limited to playing simple forms of music like blues, rock, pop, and country. It is very difficult to play classical and jazz music without some form of musical training and a decent grasp on music theory.

People who have the ability to learn complex forms of music by ear have an extraordinary musical gift and they might even be considered musical prodigies.

To help draw a distinction between musicians and those who play music by ear I offer this example. A person who uses a computer may not have a clue about how a computer works, yet they can type a letter, send an e-mail, or surf the net. The same is true with music.

So, if a person who plays music by ear creates a musical composition that pleases the ear then they are likely applying principles of music theory wether they realize it or not.

3) Is music theory only beneficial to musicians?

No. Many studies have concluded that those who study music and the arts excel in school, career, and in life.

A degree in music is most always a liberal arts degree and therefore does not limit one to just being a musician. There are many career paths one can pursue with a music degree.

A person who understands music theory will typically pay close attention to the music they are listening to. Musicians will listen for rhythm, melody, harmony, note juxtaposition, point counterpoint, dynamics, etc… The better someone listens and can understand the nuances in the music they are listening to, the more they can enjoy it.

4) What is tablature and is it the same thing as reading music?

Tablature would not be considered reading music. Tablature is a system that shows guitar players exactly what notes and chords to play by showing where to place their fingers on the neck of the guitar. Tablature does not give enough information to play the music as it was written, with tablature you must know the song to be able to play it as it was written.

Tablature is a very effective tool for musicians and players alike and is widely used by both. Accurate tablature will allow a player to to copy a piece of music very close to the way it was written if they are familiar with the piece of music.

Tablature is not the same thing as reading music but it is a very useful tool for learning note for note transcriptions, and is a good learning tool as well.

5) What is the best way to learn music theory?

I believe the best way to learn music theory is through formal musical training. Music study can be acquired at a school that teaches music or by way of private instruction or tutoring. Learning music theory without the assistance of a teacher is possible but it would be a challenge.

My own experience is that the best time to learn music theory is when a person is young, between the ages of 8 and 12 or when a child is in elementary school. The chances of successfully learning music theory seems to be much better when the music training starts at an early age.

To read discussion on this topic visit my blog and remember, in music ignorance isn’t bliss, it just means more work!

Workout and Music

For those of you that might know, music can help or disturb someone depending on the situation they’re in.

Music has a large influence in everyone on whatever they do. From working out at the gym, to doing an assignment, to taking an exam or even to falling asleep, music can affect you for reasons that you might not even know.

I am a music lover. Everything and anything that’s nice to my ears, I listen to it. I can listen to Usher’s music then shift to the Styx or the Eagles (classic bands). It depends to what I’m doing and when I’m doing it.

I listen to slow soft songs during night time so my mind can be relaxed. An example would be “Passenger Seat” from Stephen Speaks, or to “You give me something” by James Morrison.

Every time I work out at the gym or work on my basketball game, I listen to fast paced rock music to elevate my mood. Examples of these are “Down with the Sickness” by Disturbed or “Disconnected” by the Red Jumpsuit Apparatus.

When it comes to taking an exam, I’d prefer listening to the Piano pieces like Pachebel’s Canon as it gives me a relaxing mood. I sometimes shift to rock songs so I can’t hear anything else.

On working out in the gym, up tempo beats that reaches 130 beats per minute can increase your work performance. It fuels you to burn more and pump more iron as you go on with your workout. You can further increase your performance if you know the song.

By testing it myself, I increased my own performance to 50%. I noticed it after I checked the time. I usually work out for three hours and effectively shortened it to two hours.

In sports, music also plays a crucial part in the whole game. The home team has an advantage not only because of the fans, but also because of the crew that work inside the gym.

The crew plays music and beats that intensifies the feeling of everyone in the arena. When their team is on the offensive side, you’ll hear music that has a fast up tempo pace suitable for the team itself. While on the other hand, the crew plays slow, loud tempo music when the visiting team is on the offensive mode.

As you can see, music plays different roles. We just need to use it to our advantage.

Stop Your MySpace Music From Playing Automatically

Music is an important part of the whole MySpace experience. And, MySpace ever-so-kindly designed their site so that you can add a song to your profile. There are quite a few songs to choose from; a visit to the Music section of MySpace makes that painfully obvious.

I say “painfully” because if you visit a lot of profiles on MySpace, your ears just might go on strike because of the cacophony of voices and musical instruments they will be subjected to.

You probably are already well aware of what I am speaking of here. The music on some people’s pages can make a sane person go nuts! People usually place a song which has some sort of meaning for them on their profile, or one which they have chosen to be the “theme song” of their life.

But it’s terribly annoying… and rude, according to some… to be subjected to that music in order to check out someone’s profile. It also seems to make the page load slower than it should, as it seems the song has to start up before the profile page will fully load.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not a music hater. In fact, I love music! As a matter of fact, I usually am listening to music while I am online. That’s one reason why the MySpace profile music irks me so much. It interferes with my own music that I want to hear!

And, if by chance you click off of someone’s profile page to look at a photo or something else they have posted, then go back to the profile, the music starts up all over again from the beginning of the song! People need to realize that the music that they consider beautiful or relaxing may well be very annoying to others.

So, how do you stop MySpace music from playing automatically? Music on your own profile as well as anyone else’s? Actually, it is very simple. Log into your MySpace account as usual, and in the box that has your default picture inside of it, you will see a list of things you can do.

You are looking for the one that says “Account Settings.” When you find it, click on it. It will take you to another, larger box that says “My Account Settings.” Scroll down until you see “Music Settings.” See right beside those words where it says “Change Settings”? Click on that link.

Now, you will see two settings beneath “My Music Settings.” One says “Disable My Player from Automatically Starting” and the other says “Disable Band Songs from Automatically Starting.” Band songs are what MySpace is for some reason calling the music on everyone’s profile except your own, and not just actual band profiles.

Choose both of these options by clicking on the small boxes with your mouse. Then, click on the “Change Settings” button to save what you just changed.

You’ve done it! No longer will you have to worry about anyone else’s MySpace profile music – including your own!

Music For Bass Guitars – What Kind of Music to Play?

To learn about the different types of music for bass guitars you will need to study the different types of songs or a particular song. When you select a particular song, then you will want to obtain the musical notes for that song in order for you to begin playing it. These musical notes will tell you which parts that the bass guitar is suppose to play and which notes that the lead guitar is supposed to play.

The bass component in any song is what determines the music for bass guitars, which basically means that this is the part of the song that the bass player will be playing. A good bass player will know how to properly read all the musical notations when playing their music as well. Today this is made a little easier since musical software has come onto the scene.

Musical software lets bass guitar players know which parts of the song is suppose to be played by the bass player. This is the best way for the bass player to find which music for bass guitar is for them to play. The best software on the market right now would have to be the Guitar Pro 4, which is oftentimes available free as a download.

This type of software allows you to see the chords that are used for a particular song. It also gives you the ability to see what parts in the song is played by the lead guitar and which parts are music for bass players to play. Most of the Guitar Pro 4 files are gp4 files, which is really nothing but a file extension in itself.

However, if you look on the Internet, then you will can find millions of these types of files that can be downloaded for free. These files are set up to be used specially with the Guitar Pro 4 software and lets the user dissect the song so that they can locate the particular parts of the song for their particular instrument, such as the bass guitar.

Oftentimes, this type of software will help you locate music for bass guitars on a variety of web sites that you would not have been able to locate without it. Finding a variety of different chord to particular songs will be a huge benefit to your musical career when working with a band. These different chords that you learn will help you to build a base of knowledge for your future as a bass player. Just remember that each piece of music you learn builds your vast knowledge.