News: Music Theory 101 (New Course)

Music theory is important. In every masterclass I’ve attended the instructor has talked about the theory behind the piece. Sometimes that as simple as talking about dissonance and resolution or cadences. Sometimes is a big and technical as the overall form of the piece.

Music theory has become a big part of what I teach my students as well. It’s important that anyone who plays music has some basic understanding of what makes music tick. Specifically, this means tonal harmony.

This is why I put together a basic course on music theory. Music Theory 101 will teach you how to build scales, intervals, and chords. You’ll also learn the basics of functional harmony (and Roman numeral analysis) and modulation.

The Problem with Guitar Theory Books

Most guitar theory books never get into functional harmony. They stick with chord and scale construction. I suspect this is mostly due to the audience: most guitarists play electric guitar and just want to understand the chord and scale stuff.

But functional harmony and learning to analyze music is important for us classical guitarists, and deserves more attention than it gets. Even the big musical forms, such as Sonata-allegro form, have harmonic movement at their core.

If you’re going to learn theory…

If you’re going to learn music theory you should do it by focusing on real music. Most theory books use abstract examples or rip short phrases out of context to illustrate points. There’s plenty of really good, small pieces that work well for teaching theory.

Music Theory 101 uses two pieces: Bach’s Prelude in C major (from the Well Tempered Clavier) and Sor’s B minor etude to teach harmony.

This gives you a great understanding of each piece (well, the first half of each piece), and a lot of knowledge ready to be applied to other works.

Why I’m Not Selling You a Download

The real strength of the CG Blog, and what I love about doing it, is that I get to interact with you in the comments of posts. Some of you ask questions and others offer advice. But when a question pops up, that’s where the magic happens. If someone gets a questions answered in the comments that helps not only the person asking, but every one else reading it.

With Music Theory 101 being a membership course, that same sort of interaction can happen. It couldn’t if I just sold you a download. If you have questions, ask them! You’ll not only get your own questions answered, but you’ll get the value of hearing the answers to everyone’s questions. Just like a classroom.

Plus there’s no monthly fee

I’m not going to charge you a monthly fee. This course, for the next few weeks, is going to be $24.97 USD. You’ll get one year of access for your 25 bucks. The charge is non-recurring–you’ll only be charged once.

If you don’t like the course, just let me know. I’ll get you a refund.

What’s Included?

You’ll get access to an eight lesson program. Each lesson features text, images, and, where applicable, video. The videos give all the how to stuff in easy to understand terms.

You’ll also get PDF downloads of worksheets and the pieces we’re going to analyze.

Click here to enroll.

Posted on in Around the Web, Updates & Activities


  • Chris Liljedahl
    Chris Liljedahl

    I have found similar limits in most music theory books, plus the aggravation of not just trying to understand the concepts, but having to transcribe the examples from piano to guitar. I have found the book by John Duarte indespensible and I am considering your program as well. Thanks for raising this important issue that really can improve the pleasure of playing and listening to music.

    • Christopher Davis

      Part of the thing, I guess, is that most theory books take little examples out of context and do a sort of additive approach. This approach is called a spiral: learn some big, broad concepts, then apply them to things. As you get further along, you can keep relating the more details topics to the broad concepts and to the same piece. The course won’t make you a theory genius, but it certainly can get you started.