SmarterGuide to Music Theory

i. Introduction
ii. About the Authors

I. Fundamentals of Music

II. Ear Training

III. Counterpoint

IV. Tonal Harmony

V. Advanced Harmony

VI. 20th Century Techniques

VII. Analysis


Welcome to the SmarterGuide to Music Theory, constantly in progress. This guide is designed to provide anyone with the know-how and chops to become a star at music theory, or to just become musically literate. Music is a language, just like French and Swahili, but fortunately EVERYONE is intrinsically gifted with this language somehow- rhythm rocks our bones, tunes get whistled, and plenty of people have iPods to give a soundtrack to their lives.

You don’t need to be a musician to speak music, just like you don’t have to be a computer programmer to create a Facebook account. This guide is about empowerment and enrichment because here at SmarterMusic, we believe a world where anyone can harmonize a melody is a beautiful world, regardless if they’re American Idols or your aunt Bernice. The skills that grow from studying music will transcend “the field of music” to “stuff I like to listen to.” Hearing how Radiohead uses unusual chord progressions will deepen the effect of the music, making it more enjoyable. Training your brain to dictate a 2-part fugue will help you remember other tunes much easier with fewer listens. Knowing why fourth species counterpoint has specific rules will render the next time you visit the dentist hilarious when they play Mozart in the background. Whether or not you have an ultimate goal of becoming a better musician or a better person, music theory opens new doors and drop-kicks other doors further open.

This guide is split into seven parts: Fundamentals of Music, Ear Training, Counterpoint, Tonal Harmony, Advanced Harmony, and 20th Century Techniques. For those who slept through 7th grade General Music, the Fundamentals of Music will go through the musical alphabet: staffs, key signatures, notes, typical markings, etc. Ear Training will provide guides to train your brain in musical exercises; the stronger your music brain, the better and easier ALL music theory will become. Counterpoint, literally “point against point”, will teach the fundamental voice-leading and harmonizations that were developed way back during the 14th and 15th century that still govern music today. Tonal Harmony, the next stage in music evolution after Counterpoint, is how chords and harmony work to create what most people enjoy today as “music”. Advanced Harmony is the stuff that happened once people realized that what used to “sound bad” sounded pretty cool. 20th Century Techniques is what happened when people thought what sounded bad “sounded good” (some of them can still make pretty cool music, regardless). And finally, Analysis takes a critical eye at all types of music and applies the concepts from the previous sections.

We’ll be slowly constructing this guide in the coming months — please share any feedback you’d like.


Hi, my name’s Eric and i’m from Brazil

That’s a great work you guys are doing here. I found the website looking for a cappela material.

Looking forward to see the rest of the content on music theory. Things such as counterpoints and advance harmony are not so easy to find on the web.

Thanks a lot

Written By Eric Siqueira, 23 on March 28th, 2014 @ 12:53 pm

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