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Music theory: It’s important to know the basics

Jon Chapple 15 October 2014
Music theory: It's important to know the basics

Music theory is an often overlooked area of music production. I know this because I have been guilty of overlooking it in the past myself. One of the most frustrating aspects of music production is developing a track that you are really happy with then hitting a wall and not knowing how to progress the track further. This often leads to frustration, a stem in creativity and a promise to yourself to finish it later. The song gets named something along the lines of Track X – Finish Later, or Track X – DO NOT DELETE, and, inevitably, never gets finished. (Again, I am speaking from experience, having about 20–30 of these similarly named tracks on my computer from a couple of years back). Even the most basic knowledge of music theory can go a long way towards helping to overcome these creative blocks.

The following video is demonstrated by Timothy Gibson of Full Tilt, and has been taken from week two of our Electronic Music Production course. It is the beginning of the music theory module and demonstrates how to work out the notes of any major scale. The notes follow a simple formula, which will be demonstrated along with how you can apply this formula to any musical key. We will examine the scale of C major, and also explain pitch and octaves.

So, to summarise what we saw in the video above, the formula for working out any major scale is T, T, S, T, T, T, S, and can be applied to any key. Try to memorise this formula so you can quickly and easily work out the major scale of whatever key you are working in. Knowing the basics of music theory is crucial if you want to lift the standard of your music towards a professional level.

I hope you enjoyed this article and that it will provide you with some new songwriting inspiration. Check out our YouTube channel for more video tutorials and course samples.

Brian Cahill is CEO of Sound Training Online

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