Music is the craft of arranging sounds in time in order to create a tune through the basic elements of harmony, rhythm, melody, and rhythm. It’s one of those universal artistic aspects of all human cultures. Music has been around for thousands of years, dating back at least to the ancient Egyptians. Its importance was highlighted during the Greeks’ sojourn to Egypt, where they picked up many instruments, including lyre and drums. According to the Sophoclean tragedies, music was used to bring about visions and then communicate the tragic loss of life.
The importance of music theory can never be overstated, for it teaches musicians how to organize and create music according to certain rules. People tend to focus on the technological aspects of music as opposed to the philosophical aspects, but music theory is absolutely necessary to understand and appreciate contemporary musical compositions. The study of music theory enables you to see how composers arrange notes and chords in a way that makes sense. Not all composers may agree on the arrangement of songs and the arrangement is not a fixed form. Instead, it is an ever-changing process that reflects the creative genius of each musician.
Now, lets get down to the really interesting stuff…How Do Musicians Accomplish Musical Creation? Well, that’s where we get into the really interesting stuff. To answer that question, we first have to realize that there are many different theories on how music is created. There are many different approaches to chord construction, scales, modes, pedalling, simple definition, harmony (vibrato, harmony lines), and more.
So, what’s that ‘simple definition’ that I was talking about earlier? This simple definition is that everything in a song is made up of 6 basic notes, C, D, A, E, and G. These notes are made up of a pitch class. For instance, if you listen to most popular songs, you’ll notice that they’re all playing on the same scale. The notes go from the root note (G) to the 5th note (D), and from the 5th note to the second note (A), so this means that these instruments fall on the fundamental guitar scale, called the major scale.
The harmony of a song is found when the melody and the rhythm of the piece of music are of similar equal importance. If one element is stronger than the other, the song will be of poor tone. If they are of equal strength, the song will be of good tone. This is known as tonal balance.
What is the tonality of the piece of music? The tonality refers to the quality of sound produced by each individual instrument in relation to the main melody. It is this quality that gives a song its overall strength. If the melodic quality of an instrument is strong and the harmony of the melody is weak, the song will have a poor tonality of the sound.
The next two components of music, or the rhythm instruments and the melody instruments, are the newest known elements of music. These are also the oldest known elements. Rhythmic tones are what make music tick; where the beat of a drum or piano or even the pulse of a violin or a flute works together to tell a story. A well-written melody will have a central melody that is the main pitch and that is repeated throughout the piece. The rhythmic tone is what makes the melody groove along.
Now that you know the 8 elements of music are, in alphabetical order, what do you think? Which is most important to you? Do you agree with the ideas that each of the elements are important, and which ones are less important? Do you feel that some are very important and others less so? This may be a topic for another article.