March 30th, 2017
If your dream is to compose a musical score, sing in an opera or learn to play an instrument a useful tool to any of these eventualities is to learn music theory. Music theory is the study of the elements of music. It looks at the harmony, melody, structure and rhyme of a piece of music. It analyzes the parts. If you are looking to compose a piece yourself, it helps you to know how to put these pieces together. Music theory is not simply the writing of musical notes. It is learning to know why the notes are placed where they are and what they will say to the musician, and to the audience, once they are played.
When you learn to write music, you will see that it is not as complicated as some think. The pitches are easy to remember since they are the seven first letters of the alphabet. Then you need to know that a clef is used at the beginning of a staff. It is a symbol in music that tells the musician what the letter names of the lines and the spaces are going to be. There are two clefs that are used most often. There are the treble and the bass. The notes must last only a certain amount of time. This is determined by which kind of note is used. The choices are the whole note, half, quarter, eighth and sixteenth; the smaller the note the shorter its duration. The time left between two notes is known as the interval. The interval is usually called the octave. Music is written in scales. These scales are called either major or minor. The minor ones are broken down into harmonic minor, melodic minor and natural minor. The way music is made is by a combination of these pitches and keys. As the musician changes these combinations, the music changes its sound. The writing of music is also called musical notation.
Rhythm is how you put the sounds together. It is the timing of the musical composition. The meter tells the musician how fast or slow to play the piece. Depending on how the piece is timed, the notes will sound differently. Harmony is the interaction of at least two, or it can be more, pitches. If three pitches are heard together they are called a chord. When the pitches are heard in succession this is called the melody.
There is also the texture of a composition. This is how it all sounds when it is put together and played. The instruments chosen can influence it, how many there are and how the music is written. The term monophony refers to the texture of just the melody. Consonance refers to the harmony of a piece whose tones are complimented by each other. The Dissonance is the part of the music that puts more complexity into the composition. This is also referred to as the beats of the piece. One way of looking at it is that the consonance sounds are the pleasing ones while the dissonance ones are they objectionable ones. But it is the combination of these two aspects of music that really gives a composition some flare. If the music was made up of only consonance tones it would probably sound lovely, but be very ordinary, and potentially rather boring. But put these things together and you wind up with an incredible piece of music.
Some people are able to learn music by ear. They have a natural ability to pick up the sounds they are listening to and replay it immediately. These people very gifted.