Talk:Music theory

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Rename[edit]

Hi, I changed this page's name to "Topic:Music theory" since it was being styled as the department of Music theory and composition. I also just added some pages from Category:Music - not all of them are of great quality, but I thought I would list them here to facilitate the ordering of them in a course format - or simply to have them in a centralised, easy to find location. I also added some boilerplate text - please add/remove/modify as you see fit... Cormaggio beep 18:45, 19 February 2007 (UTC)

A simple and Useful Course Plan[edit]

I think it's a very simple but useful course plan for local classroom or instrumental practices.Jason M. C., Han (discusscontribs) 03:31, 17 May 2019 (UTC)

pic of keyboard[edit]

This would be very useful to allow readers to visualise natural/enharmonic notes and the structure of the diatonic scale. Is there a schematic diagram in the Commons? Tony1 02:18, 14 October 2006 (UTC)

I was thinking the same thing. B1810 13:05, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

Depth of lesson[edit]

Considering that this is supposed to be an introductory topic, it bothers me that I don't have the faintest idea what you're talking about over most of this lesson. (I'm a beginner to music theory, though an avid music fan.)

  • What's a major scale as opposed to a (presumably) minor one? That is, what's the difference?
  • What's a 'mode'?
** What are the names you've given and why are they relevant to whatever a mode is?
  • Intervals are a 'distance'...on a keyboard? in terms of frequency? This phrase makes no sense.

Just a few comments on comprehensibility and relevance. Sojourner001 15:52, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

I am pretty well-versed in music theory and I was thinking the same thing as I read this (i.e., "this is going to be very confusing to a beginner"). There are a lot of holes that must be filled in between the simple and the more 'advanced' concepts. (e.g., complex intervals, when a basic interval is far from thoroughly understood?; modes?; double flats?) Some of these concepts should be in a higher-level lesson. And the explanation is not the clearest. B1810 13:05, 22 December 2007 (UTC)

I clarified quite a chunk of the text, making it more systematic and hopefully easier to read. Regarding your (first reader) query about intervals as distance, the distance between two notes is a ratio of frequencies. An octave (up) is a ratio of 2:1, so 2 octaves is a ratio of 4:1 and so on. To get a semitone, we need to find the twelfth root of two, which is an ugly beast. --Thefrettinghand 13:06, 12 July 2010 (UTC)


Hey! Welcome to the world of music.... To answer a few of your questions:

  • A major scale or chord is one that (this is how I remember and was taught) sounds 'happy', while minor sounds 'sad'. Does that make sense.
  • A mode is an arrangement of the diatonic tones in an octave....... which probabvly confuses more.

Actually, come to think of it, im not helping much.... its 1am here... i'll give you a good answer tommorrow, when i'm awake! Bananagirl 14:47, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

Well, thanks, but that wasn't really the point I was making. What I'm getting at is that the lesson doesn't really serve to educate the reader. What it appears to do is merely summarise the discipline of music theory in terms of its own jargon - this doesn't help anyone who doesn't already know the subject. Sojourner001 16:27, 17 March 2007 (UTC)


Here's the thing... This lesson does an absolutely horrid job of describing even what basic concepts are described here. This lesson was obviously not composed by anyone who has any pedagogy experience whatsoever. Points that need improvement that I have found include:

-Failure to explain the concept of pitch and illustrate it through use of a keyboard. -Failure to explain the concept of what intervals are and their applications. Actually, applications of any information here are missing. -Information regarding the exact and enharmonic abbreviations of every godforsaken interval is simply unnecessary at that point in the lesson -Concepts are presented in a way as if the composer of the lesson were a bad storyteller. "So, a guy went to a bar and the bartender asks him... wait, did I tell you the guy was a robot? Because that's kind of important..." etc., etc. They should be reordered in a more constructive manner. -Because sound and pictures are scarce, the author comes off as just rambling off irrelevant information, and he is. Examples NEED to be present.

That's just my opinion though. I'll come back later and move stuff around as much as I can. -RS

Eurocentrism[edit]

This course should be renamed into "Theory of Western Music I" or something like that. In its present form, it is an example of eurocentrism. English is a language spoken as first or second language by people from many different cultures, including different musical cultures. Therefore, the Music School of the English Wikiversity should have a more global perspective. It should be restructured to represent non-western music cultures in a more balanced way and the courses should be renamed accordingly. Nannus 07:08, 2 March 2007 (UTC)

Although you are right that the subject matter is the Theory of Western Music, it is usually called Music Theory because it is the music tradition with the most 'theory' involved. Although there are many other forms of music, which may well have existed long before Western art music came into existence, it hasn't achieved a state of development akin to that of Western music. Folk music (or peasant music), for example, exists in every culture, but the fact that it is practised by 'the folk' implies that its development, when compared with that of Western art music, is not in the same category. What I mean is that Western Art music has changed, and still is changing, as people make new rules and break others in regard to the structure of musical pieces and the components of which they consist. I am not against learning materials devoted to other music cultures, and indeed can't think why anyone would be (apart from anything else, I love Gamelan!), but 'Music Theory' is a suitable title because it implies, without any prejudice, the theory of the art music of the Western world. Gaidheal1 16:02, 12 April 2011 (UTC)
This is an unfortunately Eurocentric view! It implies that "Western music" is "more developed" than other systems of music. The resource implies that Indian music, which is highly developed (and "Indian music" is really too broad a category), is based on the same 12-tone tempered scale that most "Western music" came to be based on, not seeming to realize that this was a relatively modern innovation ("The Well-Tempered Clavier"). This scale makes modulation between keys uniform so that the same 12 notes can serve all keys. If I have time, I might put together a resource on "natural tone" or "natural harmony." Natural harmony is based on coincident overtones -- and this fact is extremely useful for accurate tuning of instruments --; the tempered scale was based on the fact that 12 fifths (ratio of 3/2) equals almost exactly 7 octaves, the difference being the w:Pythagorean comma#Circle of fifths and enharmonic change. The largest deviation between natural harmony and the tempered scale is the major third, which will then be heard as discordant, due to the difference between a ratio of 5/4 and the adjusted, tempered major third. In playing the guitar, I learned to push the string toward the bridge if I wanted to sweeten the sound, i.e, to lower the tempered third produced by the fretting of the guitar, to the natural third which is truly harmonic.
I found in my own study that most musicians and music teachers were frequently not aware of the physics of sound. They thought of overtones as, I found in one music encyclopedia, "faintly heard tones accompanying musical notes." Or something like that. In fact, the partialtone structure of sound is responsible not only for how we hear the sound, and for how we can tell the difference between vowels, in speech, where the pitch is the same, it isn't faint at all, once one learns to distinguish the tones. --Abd 15:11, 19 August 2011 (UTC)

Musical notes[edit]

I was reading and thinking about the name of the notes, I'm from Brazil and whem I learnt the principles of music I saw the note names as Do, Re, Mi, Fa, Sol, La, Si and later the teacher said that the letter C D E F G A B were nottations, well my 2 cents Jlagedo 01:33, 21 November 2007 (UTC)

I'm not sure what you're saying exactly, but the note names are not 'do, re, mi...' Those apply to any scale whereas the names of the notes do not. For example, if you have a C major scale: Do=C, Re=D, Mi=E, Fa=F... and so on. But if you have a F major scale, then: Do=F, Re=G, Mi=A, Fa=Bb... etc. (They 'sound' the same, but the do, re, mi... can be transposed to any scale (and have different note 'names'). Hope that makes sense. B1810 13:05, 22 December 2007 (UTC)
I believe the confusion here is because some countries have a "fixed Do" system. What the US musicians call "A minor" they call "La minor;" C major is "Do major," etc. -Paul. 129.42.184.35 16:15, 11 August 2009 (UTC)

Where should this go?[edit]

@Thierry613: See Music_theory#Where_should_this_go.3F I added this section, but don't know where you would like me to put it.--Guy vandegrift (discusscontribs) 15:53, 29 March 2016 (UTC)

From my point of view, it would be better to put these exercises in Ear training. --Thierry613 (discusscontribs) 18:18, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
Thanks. I will move it there soon. I would like to keep it here so I know where it is. We will play with this on Thursday.. In fact, I propose we delete everything on the page except the template {{Ear training}}--Guy vandegrift (discusscontribs) 20:35, 29 March 2016 (UTC)
No problems. At the same time, maybe we could put just a link to the page where you put the exercises on ? --Thierry613 (discusscontribs) 21:25, 29 March 2016 (UTC)