Learn Music Theory Now! Now!
the title says, learn music
theory now! Sorry to be bossy about that, but composers either
need to understand music theory or need a musician friend who is
a theory expert, ready and willing to assist you at the drop of
a hat (those kind of friends are hard to find, so you’d better
have some bribery money available… preferably cash).
tackling one of the biggest problems that students dread in music
theory, here is a list of other music theory subjects of interest.
You can either link to these important topics or read on after the
following bullet points:
The biggest problem that my past students have
trouble with in theory is the concept of time and rhythm. Without
going into exhaustive detail with respect to this large topic, here
are some of the main components of rhythm that a musician should
become familiar with:
measures and barlines;
time signatures, both simple and compound;
note values, both individually and relative to other different
commonly used rhythms;
tempo names in different languages;
go through the above points quickly as an overview. Beats and
pulses are generally interchangeable terms in music. Your heart
rate is a beat. The faster the music is, the faster the beat is.
divide music into segments. In a waltz, for example, you may find
yourself able to count the beat of the waltz as such: one, two,
three, one, two, three…). Thus, the waltz has three beats
per measure. Vertical lines called barlines divide measures.
signatures are represented like a fraction, but without the
horizontal line separating the numerator and the denominator. A
time signature appears just after the key signature, on the left
hand side of the first line of a piece. The numerator signifies
the amount of beats in a measure (three for the waltz). The denominator
symbolizes the type of beat (usually a quarter note in a waltz).
As a final note with respect to time signatures, the difference
between simple and compound time lies in the numerator;
compound time always has a numerator of six, nine or twelve.
are commonly used note value names: whole, dotted half,
half, quarter, eighth and sixteenth. The whole, dotted half and
half note have durations of four, three and two quarter notes each,
respectively. The eighth and sixteenth notes are twice, and four
times as fast as a quarter note respectively.
are symbols that represent silence. Sometimes a composer wants an
instrument not to play, or take a temporary break from sound in
a passage of music. In these cases, rests are used instead of notes.
commonly used rhythms add up to a quarter note. Keeping
in mind that four sixteenth notes are equal to a quarter note, here
are various rhythms, all of which add up to a quarter note beat.
dotted eighth, followed by a sixteenth;
sixteenth, followed by a dotted eighth;
eighth, followed by two sixteenths;
sixteenths, followed by an eighth;
sixteenth, followed by an eighth, followed by a sixteenth;
triplet of eighth notes;
know, I know! I haven’t actually explained what a dotted
eighth is. Then again, I haven’t talked about what a
dot in music represents. A dot that is placed to the right of a
note is worth half of the value of the note that it follows. The
other mystery term in the above bullets is the triplet.
Simply put, triplets of eighth notes are equal to two eighth notes
in duration. A triplet is simply a composers way of trying to squish
three notes into a quarter beat instead of two.
an expression and other routine musical instruction, are often
expressed in Italian, French, German and English. Of the four, Italian
is the most predominant. Any musical term can be googled or a music
dictionary would suffice; preferably Dan and Joe’s Piano-Ictionary,
available as a bonus at www.pianolessons101.com
Here's an chart that notates and explains some of what has been
addressed in this page: