101 music theory terms you need to know

Get 20% off of my for beginners course with code DAVID20 over at Artmaster:.

is like a language, so a terrific method to improve at is to find out more vocab! Here is 101 music theory described.

The outro music to this video is my track "The Longest March" which you can hear completely on Spotify:.

And, an extra unique thanks goes to Douglas Lind, Vidad Flowers, Ivan Pang, Waylon Fairbanks, Jon Dye, Austin Russell, Christopher Ryan, Yu Kyung Chung, Toot & Paul Peijzel, the channel's Patreon saints!.


0:00 Intro.
0:20 Conjunct.
0:36 Disjunct.
0:53 Scale.
1:07 Tones & Semitones.
1:40 Intervals.
1:58 Consonance & Harshness.
2:31 Chords.
3:10 Tertiary consistency.
3:23 Quartal harmony.
3:37 Arpeggios.
3:56 Riff.
4:05 Melody.
4:18 Ostinato.
4:42 Theme.
5:01 Sequence.
5:18 Diminish.
6:08 Augment.
6:38 Inversion.
7:13 Modulation & Cadence.
8:28 Tonicization.
10:23 Transposition.
10:44 Key.
11:06 Diatonic & Chromatic.
11:22 Accidentals.
11:50 Enharmonic.
12:10 Blue note.
12:31 Lick.
12:42 Jazz terminology.
13:47 Reharmonization.
14:05 Tritone alternative.
14:40 Swing, Straight & Shuffle.
15:11 Tuplets.
15:47 Substance time.
16:12 Time signatures.
17:05 Stave & Clef.
17:36 Simile.
17:50 Fermata.
17:57 Tempo.
18:32 Ritardando & Rallentando.
18:56 Articulation.
19:38 Grace notes.
20:40 Ornamentation.
21:57 Balanced .
24:01 Anacrusis.
24:28 Characteristics.
25:20 Tone.
25:45 Texture.
26:49 Glissando & Portamento.
27:41 Tremolo & Vibrato.
28:14 A cappella.
28:43 Outro/Patreon.

101 music theory terms you need to know

Click Here To Learn Piano or Keyboard

Virtual Piano Online Keyboard

You May Also Like

About the Author: Virtual Piano Online


  1. Thank you for posting this after I failed my music theory class it really helps 😢👍

  2. I’m 2 minutes in and I’m learning so much. I thought I would have known most of the stuff in the first half and I was wrong… thanks for making me learn more!

  3. Thank you so much for explaining some of the strange symbols i’ve seen in sheet music. It’s sometimes hard to google them

  4. Thank you so much for explaining some of the strange symbols i’ve seen in sheet music. It’s sometimes hard to google them

  5. A few that could be added: Polyrhythm, Cadence, Voice, Retrograde, Chord stacking, Tension, Tuning, Interval function

  6. The biggest thing I can see that you missed was key signature. I could also see adding some structural components (e.g. verse, chorus, bridge, coda). I know you have primarily rock and jazz audience so I wouldn’t expect too many classical terms per se, but defining the tempo marks (allegro, largo, etc) could be useful. Maybe mention modes?

    1. Modes are definitely a big one missing, especially as he mentioned major and minor, which are common names for versions of the Ionian and Aeolian mode…but at the same time I can understand not wanting to talk about modes too intently lest you have to explain how each of the 7 main modes work let alone harmonic vs natural or any of that

  7. Probably a good idea to include the basic idea of “pitch” and “frequency”, the rate at which sound waves are produced that makes up what we call notes in the first place, as well because it informs an absolute ton about music. They’re why notes sound different, they’re why notes that are an octave apart sound similar (you’re just doubling the frequency), they’re how you know notes separate from each other (up or down frequency = raising or lowering the pitch, and why we refer to these as “up” and “down” in the first place beyond just “feeling” like they’re higher and lower), they’re why intervals are consonant (the frequencies fit nice ratios like 3:2) and dissonant (the frequencies have jagged ratios like how the tritone is a ratio of about √2:1). It is ultimately a basic term, people in music will be talking a lot about pitch, but even longtime musicians often only have an incomplete understanding of what it is and what it means for music.

    1. DBP: *101 phrases video*
      You: yeah but you forgot one specific thing that doesnt actually help you learn music theory

    2. @Mac Dietz He says at the end, “did I leave anything out”. Asking for comments is largely just a way to generate engagement, sure, but nothing I said was in the interest of “correction”.

      At a basic level it’s still a worthwhile term to fully grasp, because it informs so much else more clearly and is going to come up in many conversations about the creation of music.

    3. ‘Basic idea’…. Proceeds to write an essay. Definitely not in a passive aggressive tone either, have you heard of the Dunning Kruger curve?

    4. Pitch frequency is literally not music theory, its physics. And you dont have to be told that there ARE different pitches, its completely self evident. Music theory is about the relationship between notes. It has exactly nothing to say about the hertz cycles of a given frequency.

  8. i know it kind of falls under “polyphonic”, but how about “counterpoint” or “contrapuntal”?

  9. It’s really good. I feel like there was a more missing in dynamics. What about mezo piano/forte? What about pianissimo/fortissimo? What about crescendos and decrescendos? What about sforzando?

  10. Even though I knew the vast majority of these, I watched the whole video. I really admired how smoothly you put it together, and how clear and concise your explanations were. And I did end up learning a few new terms like “simile,” “anacrusis,” and “rallentando.” Amazing video.

  11. Friggin love the way you deliver this! I will likely watch this 3, 4, or 5 times! Very useful! Thank you!

  12. i come from a classical background and ended up learning a lot of jazz terms, very well put together!

  13. Even though I know most of this already, kudos from my side for the work you put into this video.
    Just adding the list of 50+ chapters to make things easier to find is already a lot of work.

  14. Love this video, particularly the bits about articulation and ornamentation, thankyou! One thing I’d add to A Capella though is the concept of Organum

  15. Great stuff right there! It’s really great to have most of these terms described here. Three terms that are missing is crescendo et decrescendo, since you touched briefly on dynamics, and metric modulation, because that’s the only modulation left out.
    Besides, great video! 👌

  16. Enjoy your videos David although it fries my brain I appreciate what you do.
    Does knowing all these terms for music help or hinder your own creative process? I heard you mention you’re working on an album in a previous video. I’d be up for playing/writing some bass lines and any other bits n pieces for free for future projects if you’re interested.
    Keep up the good work 👍

  17. Bravo, David. I have so much respect for the work you put into all your excellent videos!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *