What Is Western Music Theory?

What Is Western Music Theory?

It is not so easy to simplify music theory in a single definition, due to the music’s evolved state itself. But we know exactly what ‘music’ is being talked about here. It is the music that has accompanied the growth and development of human race on the entire earth; so that you could expect that there is such a long history entailing the conception of what music theory is.
Yet, we could still get a hold on a perspective viewing music theory as a set of principles or basic values that must be on a music. It wraps up pitch, rhythm, form, harmony and even silence. Those elements would always be present on every music composition. It is even like a natural concept flowing through the process of making music.

Music Theory’s History

A long history of human race has proven that music is not a trend. Music-making is an ancestral behavior, as shown by so many prehistoric artifacts which are considered to be our ancestors’ musical instruments. And since that time, music theory had actually been developed.
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As humans mobilized, their culture on music-making had also been developed. Western community should have got their own story regarding to how they contemplate music theory of themselves. A writing from Boethius called De institutione was claimed to be the first treatise explaining about how music positioned itself at that time, alongside its composition pattern.
That marks the Western’s contribution to the whole music history, which has finally got the power to be among the most admired music around the world.

Western Music’s Intervals

Well, how do you define Western music? Is it music made originally by Western musicians? Or is it the music produced in Western countries? And even, who are Western people or what are Western countries? It is quite hazy to describe this Western music as one musical concept. Yet, let us rely on the most typical assumption.
If you are wondering about how Western music theory states itself out, then we can see it by analyzing the music’s intervals. Interval, which is the tonal gap between two notes, can be as small as a half step in Western music. That half step is also called minor second. This term, minor second, is one among the twelve notes ended with octave on the 12 half steps.
These interval theory can be a bit confusing and difficult to understand, unless you have been pretty pro on the field.

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Difference between Western and Asian Music Theory

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Plato once said, “Music is a moral law”. It gives soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and charm and gaiety to life and to everything.” Good music not only delights you but also promotes good health.

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There is theory behind music. It comprises the rules that make music delightful. The music theory enables music to be written and played by musicians.

There are some distinct differences between Western classical music theory and Asian music theory. The Western music theory divides the octave into a series of 12 tones, known as chromatic scale, within which the interval between adjacent tones is known as a semitone.

In equal temperament, each semitone is equidistant from the next, but other tuning systems are also used. Scales are created by selecting tones from the 12 tones and arranging them in patterns of whole tones and semitones.

Asian music encompasses many musical styles originating from different Asian countries. There are 48 countries in Asia, the largest continent in the world.

When people speak about eastern music, they usually mean Indian classical music. Indian classical music has two genres: Hindustani music and Carnatic music. In the Hindustani music, the melodic foundations are known as ragas and the rhythmic organization is based on rhythmic patterns known as tala.

The Carnatic music theory is also based on a complex system of raga and tala. Raga is basically the scale, which has seven notes. Tala is the rhythmic foundation to the system. Ragas are categorized into various modes.

Western classical music does not use beat cycles, Indian classical music uses tala, a cycle of beats. Works in western classical music have roots in factors like historical events in human history and individual experiences. Indian classical music has an intimate association with nature.

The magic of Western classical music lies in polyphonic composition. The harmony, texture and counterpoint are created using many voices. Melody is not the singular focus of most of Western classical music works. Indian classical music is primarily homophonic. Its focus is on creating melodies using a sequence of notes. Different melodies are constructed within the framework of ragas.

Western classical music is composed, Indian classical music is improvised. In Western classical music, when vocals are used, the instrumentation still carries a lot of weight in the composition. In the Indian classical music, when vocals are used the instruments are mere accompaniments.

There are many great compositions in both Western music and Asian music. Which genre of music do you prefer to listen?

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