Behind the word music theory is hiding so much … an acquaintance, an experience, and painful memories ;-)? Even if this word has been removed from the manuals by “musical training”, it is still present in our minds.
Music theory represents for many musicians (no matter the level) something … painful, unpleasant, and forbidding. In short, nothing interesting … and yet…
And yet I decided for many years, since 2004, to devote this site in order to present the musical theory otherwise, more interactive and interesting.
Here are some arguments to explain to you and I hope to convince you of my approach.
What is music theory?
The answer is obvious: music theory is the set of rules that exist to be able to read and write music. So, in any case, any musician, whatever his level, must learn these rules. One cannot imagine speaking or writing a text in French only by knowing words: one must have the knowledge to formulate sentences and thus give them a meaning, a logic. We do not align without understanding words one after the other.
In music, it’s the same. We have a set of musical symbols (notes, silences, keys, annotations …) that we will write on a score to be played. So to read or even more to write music, it seems obvious to go through the music theory box.
Let’s start from the premise that every musician must do a minimum of solfeggio, or acquire a minimum of theoretical knowledge, to play an instrument (knowledge of notes, of silence but also of rhythm, of the pitch of the notes …). So those who say they have never done music theory are wrong, or at least they do much more than they think! Every musician reads notes, does not he?
Why is music theory so boring?
In my opinion, it is the traditional teaching of music that is in question. We have often separated the theory of the instrument. It’s a bit like learning during x months the rules of French grammar without making sentences. It is incoherent and especially discouraging. When we learn music, we obviously want to play songs, songs … We do not necessarily want to integrate theory.
In short, to separate the two learnings (theory and practice of the instrument) is, it seems to me, a fundamental error and that’s how we disgusted a lot of musicians solfege, and more generally of the musical theory .
What is the use of music theory?
As it was said above, music theory represents the rules of music, so it is better to know them for several reasons:
If you play in a group or a musical formation, all members must speak the “same language”, with the same references, the same rules. So you have to have knowledge in almost all areas (reading notes, rhythmic …) to integrate, at least its better.
If you do not know the rules, you may have bad habits. For example, if you do not pay attention to the rhythm, you will play what you want, maybe, but not necessarily correctly. It is therefore necessary to respect the music and its writing and solfeggio helps with that.
You probably know a talented musician who says “solfeggio, I f … it’s useless”. On the one hand, as we have seen, all musicians apply rules from music theory and on the other hand, there is perhaps one musician out of 100 who can do without learning, it is left another 99 for whom it will not necessarily be true.
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Finally, music theory and learning music theory will make you discover or understand the subtleties of language. I often met musicians who after playing 3 chords believed themselves to be outstanding composers, thought to have found a treasure of composition. The next day already, it was not that … To look more closely, the sequence of chords played respond most of the time to very basic rules of harmony. In short, it sounds good, too well maybe, but that’s explained. Understanding music theory and harmony can go a long way in helping you to go further and not get trapped in what you know. If you compose your songs, then by using the same patterns, you will go around in circles.
Knowing the music theory will help you in your learning and the faster you will play your instrument. Certainly, playing an instrument involves some difficulties related to this instrument. If I take the piano, the independence of the hands is a big problem! The fact remains that if you read the notes perfectly (Sol clef and key of Fa), it will be one less difficulty and you will be able to concentrate on other things. In music, difficulties sometimes accumulate. For example, if you master the rhythmic notion, then this will help you set up your game.
Will music theory reduce my creativity?
Not at all. Always in the same comparison with our French language, it is not because Hugo, Baudelaire, Rimbaud or Verlaine knew the French language that they lost their inspiration. On the contrary. It was because they perfectly mastered the subtleties of language that he made the best of them. As in music, they necessarily have abilities, facilities, even donations to do so. But there is also work…
I must know the rules but do not get locked up. Then these rules evolve as the music evolves. The learning of music theory is therefore quite broad and broad. If you want to go this way, it is better to know the “basic” rules. It’s like everything, you have to start from a basic base to evolve to other horizons.
The inspiration, in the writing of a song, it is above all the fact of finding the good melody, with the good harmony, the good rhythm, the good touch, the good sound, the good words, the good rhymes , the good story … So there are several ingredients that together will “ring”. The analyzes of the songs presented on this site or those of the classical scores show that there is a certain similarity in the musical constructions. It does not remain about it less that it concerns songs or music which, a priori, have nothing to do. For example, I draw a parallel between Gloria Gaynor’s “I will survive” and Mozart’s “Easy Sonata”. A priori, it has nothing to do, and yet the buildings are quite (if not very) close.