Music Theory provides a practical discipline to study the methods and concepts used to create music.
Uses of the Term
The Oxford Companion to Music describes three interrelated uses of the term. The first is the “rudiments”, that are needed to understand music notation (key signatures, time signatures, and rhythmic notation); the second is learning scholars’ views on music from antiquity to the present; the third is a sub-topic musicology that seeks to define processes and general principles in music.
As would be expected the field contains a large number of terms of which most individuals recognize Below are samples of such terms.
Music Theory Terms
Ascending – Going up the keyboard from left to right to raise the pitch
Cadence – A short sequence of notes or chords placed at the end of a musical phrase
Chord – more than two notes played at the same time
Descending – Going down the keyboard from right to left to lower the pitch
Dominant – The fifth note of a scale or a chord built on the fifth note
Extended Chords – Chords are termed extended when they have extra notes added from further up the keyboard
Flat – The note is to be one semitone lower in pitch
Harmonic internal – Notes of different pitches played simultaneously
Inversion – The difference between two note pitches
Key – The scale used to create the piece of music. The key takes its name from the first note of this scale
Major scale – Eight notes with a set pattern of intervals: 2-2-1-2-2-2-1
Mode – A type of scale built by starting another scale from a note other than its root
Octave – An interval of 12 semitones, at which the two notes have the same quality, just one higher and one lower
Root – The lowest note of a chord or scale
Rootless chord – an extended chord played with the root note missing Frequently used in jazz and gospel music
Triad – A chord consisting of three notes
Unison – An interval that is not an interval
Most musicologists work as instructors, lecturers or professors in colleges, universities or conservatories. The job market for tenure track professor positions is very competitive. Entry-level applicants must hold a completed PhD or the equivalent degree and applicants to more senior professor positions must have a strong record of publishing in peer-reviewed journals