Basics of Music Theory Every Songwriter Should Know

For some musicians, learning music theory is a tough sell. The idea of allowing a determined set of rules to affect the process of songwriting can be unattractive because making music is a rebellious creative pursuit.


Actually, the truth is that music theory does not exist to limit or confine musicians. Music theory is a set of musical principles designed to clarify and explain the music we make and hear around us in the world.


Musicians tend to lose a valuable tool in their songwriting when they do not bother to learn the basics of music theory.


Therefore, if you are a Songwriter and you are interested in learning about music theory, these are the basic things you should master:

  • How to build and identify chords

If you are a musician that is serious, you should know how to play chords. However, knowing what chords are and how to build them is a different skill set entirely.


Chords make the harmonic foundation available to the vast majority of the music we listen to every day.

So you need to master how chords are built and also understand how they interact with one another. This will give you a clear perspective on why music sounds the way it does.


It doesn’t matter the instrument you play, if you master how to build chords and are able to know the differences between chords, it will make you a better musician and songwriter.

  • Scale-building and identification

Knowing your way around scales of music should be a top priority if you have any interest in melody writing.

Scales, also known as modes, can do everything from giving inspiration for melodies and helping guitarists to write solos.


Scales are awesome for exploring the different moods of the music and make them a powerful tool for giving the direction of musical ideas.


Just like chords, the sequence of notes behind scales that are singular never change and that makes them easy to learn and recognizable in music.

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  • How to build and understand key signatures

If you have been curious to know why the G key is different from Bb, this article section is for you.

Many songwriters focus on different chords and melodies without knowing or understanding why some notes sound perfect from the others.


When you learn how to construct key signatures, it will give you clarity completely when it comes to knowing some notes and their function within conventional music.


Most of the core ideas behind music theory are that they are set in stone and that is the beauty. This also means that you will only have to learn some patterns of notes that are specific in order for you to understand crucial concepts of music theory.



You shouldn’t make any mistakes. Music theory takes energy and time to learn. However, the musicians who devote their time to master the basic theory concepts are far better off than those who do not do that.


The only true common language spoken by musicians and understood between them is Music Theory.

It can be intimidating to learn Music theory, however, you do not have to master it in one day.


The best thing for you to do is cut down some basic concepts, like scales, chords, and key signatures, and also to devote your energy to learning about each of them on your own time.


The knowledge you will get from what you studied will be able to guide you and improve your career in songwriting throughout.


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