Wikipedia defines music theory as “the study of the practices and possibilities of music”…
I often tell my students that music theory does a much better job of describing what a musician or composer did, rather than dictating what a musician or composer should do.
Music is a language, a form of communication. And like any language it is formed from an alphabet, words, pronunciation, phrases, and syntax and so on.
In music, those things take the form of note names (pitch classes), intervals, scales, chords, harmony, rhythm, phrasing, articulation, form, timbre, texture and more.
The first thing to understand about music theory, is that nobody needs to know anything about any of it! Yes, I said it! Our musical history, especially in the last 200 years, is full of musicians who “knew nothing” about music, and yet made some of the most influential and impactful music that is still enjoyed today. A quick search of the InterWebs will reveal artist after world famous artist who never knew how to read or write music, and who never studied music theory.
Now that said, if you would like to make music, and especially if you would like to make music with other musicians, it would be very handy to know how to speak the language. Music theory is a language designed for communication between musicians. So the more you know, undoubtedly, the better you will be able to communicate as a musician.
And so, to become a masterful musician, one must know the language. To really understand one’s instrument, regardless of which it is, one must understand at least basic music theory.
When I started really playing music at 11 years old, I couldn’t have cared less about music theory. But as my love of music grew, so did my desire to understand and know. So eventually I found myself at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Florida (Go ‘Canes!) and I earned my Bachelor of Music in Theory and Composition (MTC). And since then I have composed, performed, produced, recorded, mixed or mastered music for myself, others, TV, Radio, Film, CD and Internet.
If you could use some help with your understanding of music, music theory, how music theory relates to the guitar or just about anything else music related please give me a call!