Music theory turns a lot of young musicians off, they feel like it won’t let them play what they want to, and the sheer number of rules and years of history involved can be intimidating as well.

We’re getting rid of all of that. I’m going to teach you Descriptive Music Theory rather than the Prescriptive Music Theory taught by stuffy old stodgers and gate-keepers of years past.

I’ll teach you enough theory so that you can describe the tones YOU enjoy, and can relate this information easily to a band-mate to get everyone on the same page. I won’t teach you that “this pattern is wrong” or “you can’t do that,” but I will describe some basic tools to expand a simple idea into a larger work based on some of these old rules, and how to identify new rules that you can apply to your own playing style.

The music theory I’ll be describing here is of course the “western” system of 12 tone chromatic scales and 7 tone diatonic scales. Entire courses would be necessary to describe the history of this system, who decided what, and why they decided it. It can get very dense very quickly, so I’ll be avoiding that.

The long and short of it is, this is the system that led to the development of 99% of the songs you’ve heard, and this is the system you want to learn if you want to play any form of popular music, including Blues, Jazz, Rock, Metal, Country, Hip-Hop, EDM etc.

Some aspects are absolute truths within this system, such as the number of and ordering of available tones, which leads to concepts like intervals, chords, modes, chromaticism and diatonic harmony, including consonance and dissonance.

Other aspects are “generally agreed upon” as true within this system, such as the functionality of chords and intervals which leads to concepts such as functional harmony and how it relates to chord progressions. These concepts are fairly subjective and can always be toyed with by the musician when discovering their “flavor.”

I will define concepts as it becomes necessary, and I will try to keep this as minimalist as possible, moving from the smallest to the larger pieces of musical composition.