From gaining a greater command of notes and rhythms to dabbling in the art of music composition, musicians have found a great number of applications for music theory. Studies in written music theory begin with note and rhythm reading, and this is especially beneficial to new string players. A greater command of notes and rhythms will allow budding musicians to read music with more fluency. Among other things, this enables them to focus on building their own, personal brand of musical expression.
For later players, music theory provides a chance to take that previously developed expression to the next level. Players can gain a greater degree of familiarity with the music they play by learning about more intricate topics, such as intervals, chords and formal phrase structures. This ultimately leads to a highly organic performance, as players learn to use their personal expression to emphasize pivotal moments in the music. This type of masterful expression in a performance can be breathtaking.
Arguably just as important as written theory, however, is aural theory. While written music theory studies the intricacies of musical notation, aural music theory trains the ears of musicians to always listen carefully. Topics in aural theory include: note recognition, interval recognition, chord identification and rhythmic recognition, among others. This is helpful to musicians because the ear is a musician’s greatest tool. Learning to listen for intonation and subdivide rhythms are valuable skills that can ultimately enable musicians to excel in their craft.
Lastly, many musicians use music theory as a springboard for music composition, or to help them figure out the notes and chords to a favorite song. Whatever the application may be, music theory is an undoubtedly helpful tool for any musician.
- Nicole Cosme
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