The Birth of Music Theory

Music theory is one of those double edged swords that plague, baffle and enlighten us all. Whether we are in awe of it, confused by it or rely on it, it's consistently a magical method, a language that leaves it's readers often wondering how this incredible strategy of reading and writing came to be & from the depths of whose mind was music theory unearthed?

Before we dig into where, let us consider what. What is music theory exactly anyway? It is a theory or is it a fact? Despite the fact that music theory is one perspective's take on music itself, there are still real mathematical and numerical placements within theory that lean it towards more fact and less theory, despite it's name. Icon Collective reminds us that "basic music theory defines the elements that form harmony, melody, and rhythm". 

If we really try to nail down and pinpoint an exact moment and space in time where music theory was born, many have agreed that the particular place would indeed be that of Ancient Greece. "Music theory developed after music. Some ideas emerged among the ancient Greeks. In the Middle Ages, musicians in the Catholic church created the idea of modes, which developed into the scales we know today. By the Renaissance, notation was becoming more standard" states Study.com. This is incredibly enlightening and on par with the evolution of all art and technology throughout the ages, as each era appears to enhance what they were previously gifted by the generation of bygones. We are shown that if we work together and each contribute our fairshare to society, we can often come up with something as nuanced and legendary as the language of music theory itself. Did you know that Pythagoras, yes that Pythagoras, was known as the very first music theorist? He was known for his fascination with the innerworkings of music with a particular focus on the "numberical relationships" between the intervals, such as fourths and fifths. 

 

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So, what is it that causes so many of us to end up spending years scratching our heads when it comes to theory and still are often confused. Let us take math into consideration. Music theory is much like math in that it is an entire system within itself with varying symbols that are considered almost Egyptian to most. Even those who have grown up around theory are sometimes still finding themselves stumbling around its complexities. From our perspective, we believe that in order to truly master something, a spotlight on its simplicity must come first. Take your time with theory, as it is full of depth and can be easily overwhelming to those who are trying to learn its methods of interpretation. 

Music Theory has allowed for an entire sect of musicians to be able to translate the music in the world around them. Some of us learn from listening and others from reading in a more scientific way. This is where music theory really shines, for those particular musicians. We must also take into consideration that despite the beauty the music theory brings to the education of all things sonic, it's important to note that being able to read it does not necessarily gift a musician with more talent or prestige, as someone can be just as incredible at their craft without fully grasping what music theory has to offer in the way which it speaks for the music that surrounds us all.