Basic Music Theory Elements

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Elements You Need to Start Learning Basic Music Theory

There are music elements that form the basic understanding of music theory that you have to study in order to determine how music is played or constructed. 

These basic elements are the structure and framework for which music is formed. Knowing these elements is what allows you to study, play, compose, reharmonize, and work with other musicians in a common language.

This part of the the workshop explores the basic music theory elements and concepts which will help you understand just how music is defined. Explore each set of lessons and you will get a good knowledge of the how. 

To concepts are mastered by implementing them with the Getting it Down Cold Workshops which leads you through the implementation of these elements. 

Basic Music Theory Elements


Technique Instruction

Another big part of playing music is technique or how you approach an instrument to produce sound quality. 

That is covered separately in the music playing instruction section. It is an essential part of learning to play look for instruction and video additions. Most instructors  take the time to show you proper technique.

With this section we hope to provide specific information on technique that will improve your playing.

The Problem with Bit by Bit

In most traditional teaching the music elements are typically taught bit by bit. An approach that allows you to slowly be able to grasp the elements, on a build as you go basis. However, you never get a big picture view of how all these “dots” or points of the elements relate to each other until you have been studying for a long time.

Have you ever wondered how the teacher knows what to teach next. Well, they have the big picture. It probably took them a long time to get there as well.

An Approached that Works to Your

Advantage In presenting the basic music theory elements at the workshop, we designed the information to give you a bigger picture of the component being studied.

As you explore the individual elements and components you will start with a big picture or overview of the element and then exam each component that makes it up.

You  quickly look at a big picture of items, then move in and get relationships of a component related to the element and build on those chucks of information to create a base to launch your music.

Then you will start using the knowledge and putting it together in a way that allows you to quickly assimilate the pieces you are learning about and accelerate your grasp of these various music theory elements.  

My story

When I first started to learn music I was taught with the John Thompson method books. It was brutal. I learned one note and where it was on a keyboard. I had no concept of what the notes were and how they were related to each other, let alone what or how the the basic music theory elements even existed.

You would then go on to another note, then another. Then out of the blue you would be given a sharp. What was a sharp? What did that mean?

There just wasn’t any context of where all this stuff fit together.

After a year of that study I had learned what some scales were, how to practice some Hanon exercises, and even how to read most of the treble notes on the master staff.

What I didn’t get was a good lesson on the whole thing and how basic music theory elements all fit together. Talk about a frustrating experience. It’s a wonder I quit and went and studied on my own. It was a mistake not to continue, but come on, I was only in middle school at the time. I didn’t know you need a good teacher and good tools.

The Five Need to Know Elements

These are the essential list of basic music theory elements that provides the foundation needed to will propel you quickly into more difficult and fun elements of music. Mastering these basics are essential to moving on to advanced to theory.

  1. Rhythm

    – Understanding and applying time signatures, beat values, and dividing beats is an absolute must do. It is the one thing that listeners will not forgive.

    And if you want to play with others, well think about it if you were all out of sync.

    Single Quarter NoteNotes

    – Knowing Note names, values (rhythm timing), pitch, placement are all key foundation basics that are applied to build on the other elements of music. You have to know what sharps and flats mean. This part of the study also includes the masterstaff and intervals.

  2. Scales

    – Major, minor, diminished scales form the basis of how much music is composed. Knowing this information leads to the ability to create chords and defines what notes are likely to be played with that chord.

    The basic scale is made up of seven notes, actually eight because we always end on the same note name as we start on. Also intervals are defined using the major scale.

    Here is a C major scale.

    C Major Scale

    C Major Scale

    Scale of 8 notes from C to C

  3. A minor ChordChords

    – Major, minor, diminished, augmented, are terms we use here.

    Notice how these names are related to the scales. You can see the A minor chord here.

  4. Key

    A Major Key signatureSignatures – Having and understanding of the mathematics scales and chords as a primary pattern then leads to key signatures which allows you to  apply that pattern starting are different key notes.

That’s the essence of what you have to learn in music theory to be proficient at reading and understanding music. 


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