Music Theory 101: The Ultimate Guide for Home Studio Producers
How to Learn Music Theory and Ear Training for Better Production Skills
TIPS & TRICKS
Have you ever felt frustrated or intimidated by music theory? Do you struggle to understand how chords, scales, and melodies work together? Do you wish you could play by ear, improvise, or transcribe songs without relying on sheet music or tabs?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you are not alone. Many home studio producers feel the same way. They love making music, but they feel like they are missing something. They want to improve their production skills, but they don’t know where to start.
Music theory and ear training are two of the most important and useful skills for any music producer. They can help you create better music, faster and easier. They can also help you communicate with other musicians, collaborate with other producers, and learn from your favorite artists.
But how do you learn music theory and ear training? Do you need to spend hours reading boring textbooks or doing tedious exercises? Do you need to have perfect pitch or a musical background?
The answer is no. You can learn music theory and ear training in a fun and practical way, using your own music as a guide. You don’t need to memorize a bunch of rules or formulas. You just need to listen, play, and experiment.
In this blog post, I will show you how to learn music theory and ear training for better production skills. I will cover the following topics:
What is music theory and why is it important for producers?
What is ear training and why is it important for producers?
How to learn music theory and ear training using your DAW, keyboard, and plugins
How to practice music theory and ear training with online tools and apps
How to apply music theory and ear training to your own music
By the end of this post, you will have a clear understanding of music theory and ear training, and how they can help you make better music in your home studio.
What is Music Theory and Why is it Important for Producers?
Music theory is the study of how music works. It explains the relationships between notes, chords, scales, keys, modes, intervals, rhythms, harmony, melody, form, structure, style, genre, and more.
Music theory is not a set of rules or laws that you have to follow. It is more like a language that you can use to express yourself musically. It helps you understand what you hear, what you play, and what you create.
Music theory is important for producers because it can help you:
Create more interesting and original music
Understand how different elements of music fit together
Experiment with different sounds and styles
Analyze and learn from your favorite songs
Communicate with other musicians and producers
What is Ear Training and Why is it Important for Producers?
Ear training is the practice of developing your musical ear. It involves listening to music actively and attentively, and identifying what you hear in terms of notes, chords, scales, intervals, rhythms, harmony, melody, etc.
Ear training is not a natural talent that you are born with or without. It is a skill that you can learn and improve with practice. It helps you develop your relative pitch (the ability to recognize musical relationships) and your absolute pitch (the ability to recognize musical notes).
Ear training is important for producers because it can help you:
Play by ear (reproduce what you hear on your instrument)
Improvise (create music spontaneously)
Transcribe (write down what you hear in musical notation)
Compose (create original melodies and harmonies)
Mix (balance the levels and frequencies of different sounds)
How to Learn Music Theory and Ear Training Using Your DAW, Keyboard, and Plugins?
One of the best ways to learn music theory and ear training is by using your own music as a guide. You don’t need to buy expensive textbooks or courses. You already have everything you need in your home studio: your DAW (Digital Audio Workstation), your keyboard (or MIDI controller), and your plugins (or virtual instruments).
Here are some simple steps to learn music theory and ear training using your DAW, keyboard, and plugins:
Choose a song that you like or want to learn from. It can be any genre or style that interests you.
Load the song into your DAW as an audio file or a MIDI file. If it’s an audio file, use a plugin like Melodyne or Ableton Live’s Audio-to-MIDI feature to convert it into MIDI notes.
Analyze the song using your DAW’s piano roll or notation editor. Look for the key, the scale, the chords, the melody, the rhythm, the structure, and any other musical elements that you can identify.
Play along with the song using your keyboard and plugins. Try to match the notes, chords, and rhythms that you hear. Experiment with different sounds and instruments. Have fun and be creative.
Repeat steps 1-4 with different songs and genres. The more you practice, the more you will learn.
How to Practice Music Theory and Ear Training with Online Tools and Apps
Another way to learn music theory and ear training is by using online tools and apps that are designed for this purpose. There are many websites and mobile apps that offer interactive exercises, games, quizzes, lessons, and tutorials on music theory and ear training.
Some of the best online tools and apps for music theory and ear training are:
musictheory.net - A website that offers free lessons, exercises, and tools on music theory and ear training. You can customize your own exercises or use the preset ones. You can also download their app for iOS devices.
Teoria - A website that offers free tutorials, exercises, articles, and references on music theory and ear training. You can choose from different levels of difficulty and topics. You can also download their app for Android devices.
EarMaster - A software that offers comprehensive courses, exercises, tests, and games on music theory and ear training. You can choose from different genres, styles, instruments, and skill levels. You can also download their app for iOS devices.
Perfect Ear - An app that offers fun and challenging exercises, games, lessons, and quizzes on music theory and ear training. You can choose from different topics, modes, instruments, and difficulty levels. You can also create your own custom exercises.
How to Apply Music Theory and Ear Training to Your Own Music
The ultimate goal of learning music theory and ear training is to apply them to your own music production. By doing so, you will be able to create better music, faster and easier.
Here are some tips on how to apply music theory and ear training to your own music:
Use music theory as a tool, not a rule. Don’t let music theory limit your creativity or expression. Use it as a guide or a reference, but don’t be afraid to break the rules or try something new.
Use ear training as a feedback loop. Don’t rely on your eyes or your screen to make music. Use your ears to listen to what you are doing, and adjust accordingly. Trust your ears more than anything else.
Use your DAW, keyboard, and plugins as learning aids. Don’t just use them to make sounds or record tracks. Use them to experiment with different musical elements, such as notes, chords, scales, intervals, rhythms, harmony, melody, etc.
Use online tools and apps as practice partners. Don’t just use them to learn or test your knowledge. Use them to challenge yourself and improve your skills. Set goals and track your progress.
Use songs that you like or want to learn from as inspiration sources. Don’t just copy or imitate them. Use them to analyze how they work musically, and apply what you learn to your own music.