Music Theory for Beginners

Key Concepts for Aspiring Musicians

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. This enables musicians to not only play and write music, but also understand its structure and analyze what they hear.

This section on Music Theory is an introduction to those of you that have had little or no experience in music. 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 educational, informative and very helpful in understanding basic concepts.

Basic Theory

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

Circle Of Fifths

Circle Of Fifths

The circle of fifths is a fundamental concept in music theory, and it's a great resource for any musician or music enthusiast looking to expand their understanding of key relationships and chord progressions. We can determine:

  • key signatures including graphic representations of each one
  • all major and relative minor keys.
  • sharps and flats and how they relate to each key
  • chord progressions
  • the order of keys
  • clockwise movement of perfect fifths... 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

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.

C Clef

C Clef or Movable Clef

A variety of C Clefs that position the middle 'C' on different lines, defining specific pitch ranges for instruments and voices. Most commonly used are the Alto and Tenor Clefs.

Repeat Signs

Repeat Sign

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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