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Music is made up various sounds. "Music Theory" looks at how these sounds are written. It looks at melody, rhythm, harmony, scales, tunes, intervals, composition, and performance.

The Oxford Companion to Music describes three points of the term "music theory":

  1. The first is what we call “rudiments”. It is the elements of notation, key signatures, time signatures and rhythmic notation.
  2. The second is the study of writing about how music developed from ancient times.
  3. The third is how music processes and general principles is built.

Before one can play music, it is important to understand the basics of how music works.