Music Theory 000.1 – Part 2: What to Throw Out

This is part of my series on Understanding How Music Works. If you haven’t yet, you may wish to start at the beginning. Here, I discuss some concepts that you may have been taught that I think we need to forget about for a little while so we can take a fresh look at humans’ perception and understanding of music.

Did you know that the note that you think of as “A” was not always tuned to 440 vibrations per second? It used to be quite a bit lower. At some point, our culture decided to standardize the note that we label “A.” People made it up. It’s just a convention. Chuck it out (for now).

Did you know that “the same” intervals on a piano used to sound quite different? The open fifth between C and G used to be a little different than the open fifth between A and E, so that the major third between C and E could be tuned a particular way. (more…)

Music Theory 000.1 – Part 1

This started as a single post, but as I wrote it became apparent that this needs to be a series—perhaps a short one—of shorter, easier-to-read posts. So you’re only going to get incomplete chunks of what I have to say on this topic, until this series is done and can be read all the way through.

The topic of the series is “Understanding How Music Works: ways in which traditional Music Theory misses teaching key underlying things, and what they may be.”

Albert Einstein is quoted to have said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.” This is, in part, an attempt to understand certain musical truths well enough to explain them simply, and in a way that might be helpful to others, whether you’re a veteran or you’re venturing into music for the first time.

And for this first post, I’ll discuss… (more…)