Music Theory for Beginners

Valuable concepts for the learning musician

Music Theory is the study of all the components and concepts that make up the language of music. Just as nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, etc., are some of the elements that create the spoken word - notes, tones, semitones, clefs, staves, rests, intervals, accidentals, time signatures, key signatures, etc., are some of the elements used in creating music. We look at these elements and show you how they all come together and hopefully improve your understanding of music.

This section on Music Theory is an introduction to those of you that have had little or no experience in music. If you have some knowledge of theory, you may see it as a chance to brush up on basic concepts or even get to know a little more about the theory. The following is a short summary of each category with links that will take you to an in-depth look into each topic.

Basic Music Theory and beyond...

We have several different categories for you to look at. If you are a beginner, Basic Theory would be the best place to start. We have included videos wherever possible. They are very educational, informative and very helpful in the understanding of basic concepts.

Basic Theory for Beginners

Music Theory

This is a great starting point for beginners. We look at the fundamentals of music theory, and the concepts you will need to to understand. They include:

  • pitch, sound, notes, staves and clefs
  • bar lines ... repeat signs and related symbols including endings, codas and segnos.
  • notes in detail - shape, length, different types of notes
  • notes and rests
  • rules regarding the stems of notes
  • video - note names, rests, dotted notes... Learn More

Tones and Semitones

Tones & Semitones

The building blocks of music. We look at the difference between tones and semitones and list a number of examples.

  • what are tones?
  • what are semitones?
  • the difference between tones and semitones
  • diatonic and chromatic semitones
  • accidentals and how they affect tones and semitones
  • video - accidentals, tones, semitones... Learn More

Time Signature

Time Signature

We look at different types of time signatures and where they are used along with a few examples for good measure.

  • what is a time signature?
  • where is it placed?
  • what are the more common time signatures?
  • simple and compound time signatures?
  • where simple time signatures are used?
  • where compound time signatures are used?... Learn More

Key Signature

Key Signature

We discuss the importance of key signatures, and include videos by MrTheoryGuy which you will find extremely helpful:

  • what is a key signature?
  • where is it placed?
  • the order of sharps and flats in a key signature?
  • where accidentals are placed on The Stave?
  • key signature chart of all major and minor keys
  • videos - the basics: parts 1, 2, & 3... Learn More

Music Intervals

Music Intervals

We discuss the following:

  • what is an interval?
  • diatonic and chromatic intervals?
  • names which define each interval...major minor, augmented, diminished and perfect
  • harmonic and melodic intervals?
  • perfect and imperfect intervals?
  • dissonant and compound intervals?
  • interval inversions?
  • tritones?
  • common names for music intervals... Learn More

Music Terminology

Music Theory

We take a closer look at some more specific terminology and concepts you will find useful...

  • clef transposition?
  • key transposition?
  • legato and staccato?
  • the slur?
  • the tie?
  • enharmonic change?
  • modulation?
  • syncopation?
  • tetrachords... Learn More

Bass Clef

Bass Clef or F Clef

Bass Clef: Definition of a Bass clef and the notes on the bass clef - notes on lines and notes in spaces - diagrams, video... also known as the F Clef.

Repeat Signs

Repeat Sign

Repeat Signs: The most commonly used repeat signs and symbols used in sheet music. These include first and second endings, capos and codas... Dal Capo, Dal Segno, Al Coda. We include diagrams and examples using these signs which help to simplify and de-clutter music manuscript...

Common Music Terms

B Major Time Signature

We take look at a number of musical terms (A - Z) that you will find very useful...

Often you will come across certain words or symbols used on sheet music, musical scores, or many educational music sites. They may be terms you have never seen before or may not understand, as many of them derive from other languages such as Latin or Italian.

Here, you will find a chart with more common references which are widely used explaining these terms and symbols, along with examples and definitions.

We have also included a list of reference sites which you will find very useful, especially if you need a more comprehensive list of musical terms.

Learn More
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