Creative Internet Self Improvement

5 Best Sites to Learn the Basics of Music Theory

Mihir Patkar 13-06-2017

Music makes the world go around, but do you actually know what it is? It’s one thing to say you enjoy music because you like listening to a lot of songs. It’s a whole different thing to really understand that music.


If you love music and don’t know music theory, you’re doing yourself a great disservice. The more you understand the basics, the more you will appreciate your favorite songs and artists. It’s like understanding the meaning of songs The 6 Best Websites to Find the Meaning of a Song Wondering how to find the meaning of a song? Here are the best lyrics meaning websites where you can learn more. Read More . Do yourself a favor and use one of these great sites to learn a little bit more about what makes music what it is.

1. Ableton’s Interactive “Learning Music” Course

If you know nothing about music theory, this is the place to start. Ableton, a maker of musical instruments and a community for artists, created this course specifically for beginners.

learn music theory ableton

The course takes you step by step through the different stages of making music. It’ll teach you the differences between drums, bass, chords, and melodies, and teach you the basics of beats, notes, and scales. The whole exercise is interactive 5 Stunning Interactive Mini-Sites Made by the BBC The BBC showcases a stunning series of digital experiments. From knowing your body better to interactive chemistry experiments, you'll see it all here. Read More , which is great since you are learning by doing. Once you finish with the course, you can go on to advanced topics like major and minor scales, triads, and so on.

Ableton’s course is special for how easy to understand it is, and how quickly you will pick up the nuances of music theory. And all you need is a web browser, nothing more.


2. LightNote, the Most Gorgeous Site to Learn Music

Learning music is not just about what you read, it’s also about what you see. LightNote is the most beautiful site to teach you the basics.

learn music theory lightnote

It’s a step-by-step tutorial to understand sound waves, harmony, scales, chords, and keys. The entire course is presented like an FAQ, answering the common questions that a beginner will have. For example, while teaching harmony, it plays two pieces of music and asks why one sounds good while the other bad. And then it explains the answer, followed by a short test to see if you got it.

LightNote is not as in-depth as Ableton’s course is, but it is much easier for a newbie. There are eight free courses right now, with a few more that you need to pay for.

3. Michael New’s YouTube Lessons

YouTube has plenty of channels to learn instruments like drums 7 of the Best YouTube Channels for Learning Drums YouTube has a wealth of channels filled with free content to help you learn the drums. You'll be able to at least get a basic grasp of the concepts without spending a dime! Read More . But musician Michael New is my favorite for his innovative style. New uses the combination of a MIDI keyboard and a whiteboard to great effect.

He plays notes on the keyboard, and writes what he is explaining on the whiteboard. As the lesson continues, the whiteboard has the information you’ll always need in that lesson, perfectly complementing the keyboard it sits above. As far as visually learning music goes, there’s nothing better I have seen.

You should probably start with the Music Theory Fundamentals playlist, but check out the rest of the channel too. There’s plenty of great stuff, especially the “How Rhythm Works” playlist.

4. The Basics of Reading Sheet Music

Even some accomplished musicians can’t read sheet music 10 Websites Where You Can Learn To Read Music Read More . What are those weird looking things anyway? Kevin Meixner is here to teach you all about it in a single web page.

That’s right, Meixner’s tutorial is so effective and thorough that he doesn’t need to drone on for pages upon pages. Every lesson comes with an audio file to better understand what he is talking about. You’ll learn everything from note durations to time signatures, and how to read or write it.

Take your time with Meixner’s lessons, even though it’s only one page. And once you’re done, try out his friend Jason Silver’s add-on tutorial on the basics of counting rhythm with sheet music. After that, test your new music sheet reading skills at Notation Training.

5. Music Theory’s Lessons and Exercises

One of the oldest websites in this genre, Music Theory has taught millions of people, from beginners to pros. Divided into three sections, it caters to everything you’ll need.

learn music theory

Lessons is all about learning music theory. It covers basics, rhythm and meter, scales and key signatures, intervals, chords, diatonic chords, chord progressions, and neapolitan chords. It’s almost a textbook for music theory.

Exercises makes you identify notes, chords, intervals, and signatures. It also has an excellent “ear training” section to listen to a sound and figure out the note, interval, scale, or chord. Tools has calculators for all types of musical needs, like a matrix calculator or a tempo tapper.

And if that’s not enough, then there are free courses to learn music theory Learn Music Theory for Free with 7 Fantastic Online Courses It's amazing how much more interesting music becomes once you learn the underlying theory behind the music. Take these simple and free online courses to better appreciate the music you hear. Read More as well.

Is Music Theory Necessary to Love Music?

I would consider myself someone who loves music, and is particular about which songs he listens to. But I had little to no idea of music theory, and found that learning the basics greatly improved how much I appreciated what I was listening to.

Online resources are great for learning new skills Want to Learn Something New? 6 Ways to Learn Cool Skills From Home Want to learn something new? Maybe some cool new skills? Find a new skill to learn with these useful educational sites. Read More overall. Check out these sites for doing just that:

Explore more about: Cool Web Apps, Music Production, Musical Instrument.

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  1. Kitty Brazelton
    January 25, 2018 at 12:46 am


  2. Steve Suttles
    June 13, 2017 at 3:42 pm

    Not exactly. I think if you ARE a music lover, you will eventually be DRIVEN to learn music theory. I learned to play by rote memorization, then noticed patterns, which led to playing by ear. At one time, a chord could have been called echo, apple, or dog; they are the ones in Gloria. A freind listened for ten minutes while I asked a question about a guy who played two saxophones always in harmony with each other. His answer was "Yes, it's called a perfect fifth." Much shorter than ten minutes! He introduced me to music theory, much of which I picked up as "paterns" through osmosis.

    You can learn music without music theory, but it will take you several lifetimes longer. Now, someone can name an arbitrary chord and I can figure it out from its name... as long as they dont make up names like betty or fred....