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Music theory encompasses the nature and mechanics of music. It often involves identifying patterns that govern composers’ techniques and examining the language and notation of music. In a grand sense, music theory distills and analyzes theparameters or elements of music – rhythm, harmony (harmonic function), melody, structure, form, and texture. Broadly, music theory may include any statement, belief, or conception of or about music. People who study these properties are known as music theorists. Some have applied acoustics, human physiology, and psychology to the explanation of how and why music is perceived. Music has many different fundamentals or elements. These are, but are not limited to: pitch, beat or pulse, rhythm, melody, harmony, texture, allocation of voices, timbre or color, expressive qualities (dynamics and articulation), and form or structure.
Pitch is a subjective sensation, reflecting generally the lowness or highness of a sound. Rhythm is the arrangement of sounds and silences in time. Meter animates time in regular pulse groupings, called measures or bars. A melody is a series of notes sounding in succession. The notes of a melody are typically created with respect to pitch systems such as scales or modes. Harmony is the study of vertical sonorities in music. Vertical sonority refers to considering the relationships between pitches that occur together; usually this means at the same time, although harmony can also be implied by a melody that outlines a harmonic structure. Notes can be arranged into different scales and modes. Western music theory generally divides the octave into a series of 12 notes that might be included in a piece of music. In music written using the system of major-minor tonality, the key of a piece determines the scale used. Musical texture is the overall sound of a piece of music commonly described according to the number of and relationship between parts or lines of music: monophony, heterophony, polyphony, homophony, or monody.
Timbre, sometimes called “Color” or “Tone Color” is the quality or sound of a voice or instrument. Expressive Qualities are those elements in music that create change in music that are not related to pitch, rhythm or timbre. They include Dynamics and Articulation. Form is a facet of music theory that explores the concept of musical syntax, on a local and global level. Examples of common forms of Western music include the fugue, the invention, sonata-allegro, canon, strophic, theme and variations, and rondo. Popular Music often makes use of strophic form often in conjunction with Twelve bar blues. Analysis is the effort to describe and explain music.