Are you learning an instrument with hopes of playing Pop music? Even though you’re focusing on pop music, your music teacher may suggest that you study some Classical music theory. It may seem strange to focus on a different genre of theory than the type of music that you ultimately want to play, but truth is, Classical theory is closely linked to pop music. Taking the time to study Classical theory can make you a better musician and improve your Pop music in a number of ways.
In fact, the chords that are used in Blues, Jazz, and Popular music are derived from the classical music of Europe. These chords are then combined with folk melodies, rhythms from Africa, and many other sources, too. So by understanding this theory, you are actually learning about a major piece of popular music.
Have you ever wondered why you love a particular song so much? What about why a song can get stuck in your head for hours?
Studying classical music theory can help you to understand the reasons behind these elements and more. Music theory explains why certain chords and keys create certain feelings and responses in listeners. When you study music theory, you’ll be able to understand what melodic notes fit into a chord progression and just why a wrong note sounds wrong. With this deeper understanding of music, you’ll be better able to appreciate the popular music that you listen to.
There are other benefits to studying classical music theory, too. Music theory will give you the tools you need to be able to play along with your favorite recordings by ear, without the help of sheet music – and to impress your friends in the process! You’ll be able to tell if a song is using a common chord progression, or if there’s something more unconventional at work. Then, you can impress your friends even further by writing your own songs using the knowledge that you’ve gained. Although, learning to write songs is its own course of study called composition.
Classical music theory is closely linked with Jazz and Pop music, so studying music theory will help you to better understand the devices at work in your favorite songs. Chords in Pop and Jazz music are created using the same concepts that you’ll learn in Classical theory. Plus, many Pop songs have borrowed or quoted Classical melodies.
When you know what the Classical theory rules are, you’ll develop a better understanding of where Jazz and Pop music breaks the rules. You can make your songs better when you know the melodic and harmonic rules at work for the type of song you’re working on. Then, once you know the rules well, you can explore with breaking them, which will create more options for your music.
A strong foundation in Classical music theory will make it easier for you to understand the extended theories that Jazz theory uses. Then, you can master and modify those theories
When learning to play your instrument, an understanding of theory can actually give you more material to play. For instance, chord inversions are a great tool to use. With inversions, you can create a different sound with the same chord. Knowing your inversions gives you more options when you’re performing, and if you ever improvise, then knowing both chord theory and chord inversions can help to create variety in your solos.
But theory can also help with your warm-ups, too. When you understand scales, arpeggios, and chords, you can incorporate them into your warm-up for some variety. Not only can you work on your tone production and fingering, but you can practice your music theory simultaneously. If you ever plan to audition for a group, then scales and arpeggios will likely be included in the audition.
Those same scales, arpeggios, and chords are also useful ways to focus on your technique when practicing your instrument. When you know a scale and its corresponding chords and arpeggios solid, then you’ll find it easier to play some technical music passages. You’ll find scales and arpeggios all throughout music, so if you already have the muscle memory in place, you’ll save time learning those particular sections and will be a better allover musician, too.
All musicians – even those playing or writing Pop music – can benefit from learning Classical music theory. Your teacher can integrate theory lessons with your music lessons, giving you a comprehensive music education. An understanding of music theory is something that will improve your musicianship, and it’s a valuable investment to make in your music education.