The music theory in ancient Greece was highly developed. Efforts have already been made to formulate a tone system , use differentiated notation of the pitches and extensive discussions about possible ethical and character content of music and making music. The theorists of the West , in the early Middle Ages as well as again in the Renaissance , took ancient Greek music theory as their starting point. With the legendary reports about Pythagoras in the forge , Pythagoras of Samos was ascribed the invention of theoretical music at least since late antiquity .
Up until the Middle Ages, practical and theoretical musicians had little or nothing in common. While the practical exercise of music (which also included composition ) had the character of a teaching profession and was correspondingly low in reputation, theoretical music ( Latin Musica ) within the " Seven Liberal Arts " became the higher-ranking mathematical branch, the " Quadrivium ", expected. The music theorists dealt mainly with mathematical, cosmological and religious considerations, which they related in a theoretical way to scales and rhythms, without ever sounding music having emerged from these considerations.
It was only with the emergence of polyphony in the Middle Ages that theoretical reflection and practical music practice began to converge; for the first time there were also personalities who were theoreticians and composers in personal union (for example Léonin , Pérotin ). In the following centuries, theoretically well-founded composition teachings emerged that interacted with the respective musical practice in many ways.
In the age of the Enlightenment , the writing of music history began, and the fields of activity of music theory were subjects at the conservatories in the 19th century. When academic musicology was founded at the end of the 19th century, music theory ("speculative music theory") was named as a discipline listed under systematic musicology. But in the course of the historicization of the subject, systematic aspects in musicology increasingly lost their importance.
Modern music theory
Today, music theory is understood to mean subject areas of systematic musicology or the training subject of the same name at music colleges. Common topics are:
- Musical analysis
- Composition including counterpoint (see also " Historical composition theory ")
- Form theory
- Figured bass / partimento (theory and practice)
- Instrument science
- Score studies
- Ear training / Solfeggio (also "hearing training")
In practice, the intermeshing of the subject areas in many places leads to the abolition of the individual disciplines (e.g. of counterpoint and harmony).
Knowledge of music theory is conducive to a deeper understanding of the nature and effect of music. For this reason, music theory is a compulsory subject (minor subject) in the artistic degree programs at conservatoires. Musical analysis and the writing of exercises in style ( composition ) are usually related to each other in these lessons. H. Criteria are obtained through analysis, which are then practically tested and checked in style exercises. At music colleges, music universities and some universities there are also major courses in music theory and / or ear training, some of which are offered with different profiles and focuses (scientific, artistic, pedagogical).
- Thomas Christensen (Ed.): The Cambridge History of Western Music Theory . Cambridge University Press, Cambridge 2002, ISBN 978-0-521-62371-1 .
- Clemens Kühn : teaching music theory - conveying music . Bärenreiter, Kassel 2006, ISBN 978-3-7618-1835-0 .
- Guerino Mazzola , Stefan Müller: The Topos of Music: Geometric Logic of Concepts, Theory, and Performance . Birkhäuser 2002, ISBN 3-7643-5731-2 .
- Helga de la Motte-Haber , Oliver Schwab-Felisch (ed.): Music theory (= handbook of systematic musicology . Volume 2). Laaber-Verlag, Laaber 2004, ISBN 3-89007-563-0 .
- Ullrich Scheideler , Felix Wörner (ed.): Music theory from antiquity to the present (= Lexicon of writings on music . Volume 1). Bärenreiter & Metzler, Kassel / Stuttgart 2017, ISBN 978-3-7618-2032-2 .
- Matthias Schmidt : Music Theory. In: Oesterreichisches Musiklexikon . Online edition, Vienna 2002 ff., ISBN 3-7001-3077-5 ; Print edition: Volume 3, Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna 2004, ISBN 3-7001-3045-7 .
- Music Theory and Analysis (MTA).
- Music Theory Online (MTO).
- Journal of the Society for Music Theory (ZGMTH). Georg Olms Verlag, Hildesheim; also online .