Pop Music Theory


Lessons in Order

1-7 (Intro & Pitch) +
1: Introduction
8-18 (Major Scale) +
19-29 (Chord Progressions) +
30-34 (Hook Chords) +
35-41 (Written Notes) +
42-50 (Song Chorus) +

Lessons by Topic

Strategy -
1: Introduction
Pitches +
Scales +
Written Notes +
Chords +
Chord Progressions +
Melody +
Songwriting Steps +
Science +
Games & Tools +
Song Examples: Crazy +
Song Examples: Rolling Stone +

Detailed Contents

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Lesson 1: Introduction

Pop Music Theory is a free, online, music theory and songwriting course.

Pop Music Theory starts at the beginning (no prior music knowledge required). Our goal is for you to learn to analyze how real songs are composed, and apply the ideas you learn to creating your own music.

Pop vs. Classical


Different "music theory languages" are used for different types of music:
  • Traditional "classical" or "common practice period" music theory is used for music in the styles of, for example, Bach or Beethoven.
  • "Pop" music theory works better for understanding modern "popular" music styles (including rock, blues, R&B, country, jazz, etc.).

The basics (pitch names, major scales, written notes) of classical and pop theory are the same, but they quickly diverge as we get more advanced. This Pop Music Theory course uses pop theory language, and we focus on understanding modern popular music.


Playing vs. Composing


Music theory can be divided into:
  • "Playing" theory: Things you need to know just to play pop music, e.g. playing chords or reading rhythms.
  • "Composing" theory: Understanding how songs are actually written, e.g. choosing chords and composing melodies.

This course covers both playing theory and composing theory. We cover "playing theory" because it's the foundation of "composing theory"; but our main goal is the "composing theory", to understand how real songs are created, to help you create your own music.

A Plan for Beginners


This course starts at the beginning; you can start these lessons with no music knowledge at all. However, this is not a one-stop "complete music course". In addition to the "theory" and songwriting tips in these lessons, you also need to:

Learn to play lots of songs!

Once you've worked through Lesson 16: Minor Triad Games in this course, you'll know enough to start learning to play real songs. This course doesn't teach you to play songs; it would take too long, and most people do best with a real in-person piano/keyboard or guitar teacher.

After Lesson 16: Minor Triad Games, once you've learned to play a few songs, then you'll be ready to continue in these lessons (but keep learning to play more songs too!), to understand how the songs are created and help you create your own. Of course, you can take this whole course without playing any songs, but you'll understand it much better if you're playing songs also.

Next:




Lessons in Order

1-7 (Intro & Pitch) +
1: Introduction
8-18 (Major Scale) +
19-29 (Chord Progressions) +
30-34 (Hook Chords) +
35-41 (Written Notes) +
42-50 (Song Chorus) +

Lessons by Topic

Strategy -
1: Introduction
Pitches +
Scales +
Written Notes +
Chords +
Chord Progressions +
Melody +
Songwriting Steps +
Science +
Games & Tools +
Song Examples: Crazy +
Song Examples: Rolling Stone +

Detailed Contents

Get Future Lessons


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© 2019 Conrad Albrecht. All rights reserved.