Basic Music Theory Made Easy

Music is a language. It has parts that make up the whole, and those parts are made of even smaller parts. This sentence is made of words, and these words are made of letters. To learn how to make the sentence as a whole, you have to learn the letters of the alphabet, and learn how to put them into words. Then you have to learn certain words, and learn how to put them into sentences.

Music works the same way. You learn the alphabet then put those pieces together to make musical phrases, then put those together to make a song.


The music alphabet is like the English alphabet. It is a system of letters that are assigned to represent sounds in music that we call notes. This is the simplest part to learn, and everything else will be based on this, so start here!


Scales are just a linear arrangement of notes. If notes are actual pitches, then scales are those pitches in a certain order. (ex. A B C D E F G) Because scales or pieces of scales are used in just about every song ever written, they are a huge piece of basic music theory.


An Interval is the distance from one note to another. Whether it’s B to C (a Second) or G# to Eb (a Sixth), every interval has it’s own name. This stuff is really useful in figuring out harmonies.


Chords are certain members of a scale combined into one sound. (For instance “C + E + G = CMaj” or “D + F + A = DMin”.) Chords give structure, organization, and shape to a song. They make the song “sound” a certain way. Even if you are strictly a lead player, you NEED to know this. Even as a violinist, I use chords all the time to talk about the songs. I’ll play that fill after the G7 chord.

Key Signatures

Key signatures tell us the tonality or “key” of a song. It also tells us which notes the song will be using. The more you work with these, the more familiar you get with the range and scale of particular keys. Unless you want all of your songs to sound the same, PLEASE study these.

1. The Basic Rudiments OfMusicAn Introduction to Notation

2. The Basic Rudiments Of MusicAn Introduction to Notation – IndexThe Stave / StaffBarsLine Notes & Space NotesThe Clefs – Treble & Bass ClefLedger Lines

3. An Introduction To NotationThe Stave / StaffAll music is written upon, between and around 5 lines called a Stave orStaff.

4. An Introduction To PitchBarsEvery piece of music is divided up into equal measures by vertical linescalled Bars. Each bar must contain a certain number of notes or rests, orboth, regulated by figures at the beginning of the music called the TimeSignature.A Double Barline is used to end a part of or whole of a composition.Measure Bar Measure Bar Measure Doubleline line barline

5. An Introduction To NotationLine Notes & Space NotesLine Notes – when the line runsthrough the middle of a noteSpace Notes – when the note isbetween the lines, in a space5hLine4thSpace4thLine3rdSpace3rdLine2ndSpace2ndLine1stLine1stSpace

6. An Introduction To NotationTreble & Bass ClefsNotes on the stave are determined by use of signs known as Clefs.The clefs in most common use are the Treble & Bass Clef.The Treble Clef – AKA G Clef The Bass Clef – AKA F Clef

7. An Introduction To NotationTreble Stave NotesBass Stave Notes

8. An Introduction To NotationLedger LinesThe stem of a note on the middle line can go up or down but normally lower notestems go up and higher go down.To provide for notes which lie above or below the stave, short additional linescalled ledger (or leger) lines are used. Each note above or below the stave hasits own line or lines.To avoid many ledger/leger lines the sign 8, or 8va, can be used above or belowthe notes meaning the notes will be played an Octave higher or lower thanwritten.

9. An Introduction To NotationTreble Stave Ledger LinesBass Stave Ledger Lines

10. An Introduction To NotationTreble Stave Ledger LinesBass Stave Ledger Lines

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