The art of music theory

In a few days, I’ll hit my one-month mark on the piano. When I bought it and began playing, I made sure to keep an open mind about how I learn best; not following any particular method, but tailoring practices to my interests, speed, challenges, and desires.

One learning strategy that always works best for me is a top-down approach. With the piano, there’s great benefit in playing music from sheets (of which I’m capable), but I could tell something had been missing. This morning, as I woke early once again, this time at 03:20 a.m., I realized the missing part was an overview of which chords work in a particular key.

This morning over coffee at my favorite spot, I did some digging and found, which has a wonderful series on diatonic chords. If you’re not familiar, these are chords belonging to notes that make up a particular scale. Knowing the diatonic chords of each scale is going to benefit my flexibility on the piano, because I’ll be able to play songs in whichever key I need.

As I was drawing up a matrix of what I was learning, I remembered how special music theory really is. I love its intricacy and depth, and how it manages to capture one of life’s most extraordinary things: combinations of sounds that can tell a story.