I have one month to learn some musical theory, if I need to learn something in particular, what it would be ? What basics I obligatory need ?

Taking into account that I play drums in a punk band, I know basic chords on guitar : without any idea of which notes I am doing : so I guess It's useless and I am starting from scratch.

I will learn 4 times per week, every learning session can be one hour. I am open to any kind of learning except with teacher : e-learning, books..

Why only one month ? Just for motivation, I know that learning can take long time, and I am a bit lazy to learn in general, by saying to myself only one month, it's easier for me to finally start.

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    Do you have a keyboard instrument you can use? I'd recommend that over using a guitar for quickly learning theory. – Your Uncle Bob Aug 27 '19 at 14:06
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    What do you want your new knowledge to enable you to do? A lot of theory that could be considered basic/fundamental by some people would be useless for other people... – topo Reinstate Monica Aug 27 '19 at 14:11
  • Uncle Bob : I do not have Keyboard, it would be preferable with keyboard ? Midi would be fine ? – BestAboutMe Aug 27 '19 at 14:15
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    GIGO. Unless you are writing extremely simple (or cloned) songs, you can't do it without more experience as well as more learning time. – Carl Witthoft Aug 27 '19 at 14:45
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    Learning the theory is all good and fine but unless you can hear it and internalize it in a musical capacity it isn’t much use. That takes time. – b3ko Aug 27 '19 at 14:47

Since you play drums, it makes sense to look at the rhythm side of theory. There's enough meat there to last at least a month!

At the same time, you will become accustomed to drum music, and what line/space each drum/cymbal lives on, and how the rhythms - some of which I'm sure you can play in your sleep - look like when written.

That apart, reading drummers are something of a rarity. When you leave punk behind (!) and you are a reading drummer, doors open for well-paid work, should you be interested.

Music can be pigeon-holed into rhythm and melody, simplistically, so when you understand the rhythm side, it's somewhat simpler to move across to the 'tune and harmony' side, which obviously complements what you will already know by then. Go for it.

  • Learning the rhythm side should also dovetail nicely with some study of form and related notation items like repeat signs, which should have practical application. – Michael Curtis Dec 5 '19 at 18:17

if I need to learn something in particular, what it would be ? What basics I obligatory need ?

There isn't really any area of theory that is obligatory. Different musical activities will benefit from different sets of knowledge.

I really want to be able to read/write music on paper sheets

In that case, perhaps you could start learning an instrument using a beginners' course that makes use of sheet music in standard notation?

As per Your Uncle Bob's comment, notation is easiest to learn using a keyboard instrument, as the layout of the keyboard works in a similar way to standard music notation.

Would a Midi keyboard be fine ?

If you use a MIDI keyboard, you might also find that you need to spend time and money making your computer able to play sounds with low latency. Unless you already have a MIDI keyboard setup that works well, I'd recommend getting a keyboard with its own built-in sounds. Second-hand is often a good option when you're exploring something new!


I found this course to be very useful. (Haven't finished it yet though!) It's maybe a bit sparse on documentation and explanation, but whenever I encountered something I couldn't figure out, I just searched around the web until I found a more extensive explanation.

Anyway, it's build up logically and will provide you with a clear road to understanding more of music theory.

It's 6 weeks though, but I don't think that's a real problem, right?


Oh and it's 100% online and 100% free!

Ah, and of course I also am studying:

The last one has an excellent companion app, with which you can train note reading, interval analysis etc.

There's also https://www.coursera.org/learn/music-theory/home/welcome but I haven't tried that one yet.


My best advice is that you learn to read the sheet music by writing and notating the chords that you can play on the guitar:

always in 4 symbolic representations:

  • note names of the triads (just as letters)
  • chord pattern on the guitar
  • keyboard pattern (Tab and Bend picture
  • picture in the notestaff (sheet music)

if you want an example:

Am: a c e

enter image description here

what tones are here?



(find them on the keyboard and notate them as sheet music!


E|--0--| 1st

B|--1--| 2nd

G|--2--| 3rd

D|--2--| 4th

A|--0--| 5th

E|--X--| 6th

Keyboard: (ignore the word 'harmonic' - it just isn't!)

enter image description here

sheet music:

enter image description here

**continue the same with all chords you know. Learn and find out new chords and you will understand what you are doing. You will discover the difference from major and minor, the intervals and reading music.

This concept is learning by doing, reading by writing, playing and hearing.

Do the same with the scales.

Begin with C, write down all triads and progress by the circle of 5ths.

Always connecting the tonic, dominant and subdominant.

As you are a drummer I suppose that you know the note lengths and the basic rhythm patterns.

  • That is a good bit of advice, especially for someone who wants to dip their toes into theory. Implicit in all of this: learn about intervals and how they fit into chords and scales; learn about the circle of fifths; learn by finding theory that fits an application. – ex nihilo Aug 27 '19 at 20:15
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    There are bits that need tidying up with this answer. The guitar chord is mixed up. TAB shows A major. What actually is the chord 'A harmonic minor?! OP has no keyboard. Can't assume that a drummer knows note lengths - without prior theory knowledge. – Tim Aug 28 '19 at 7:04
  • @ Tim, thank you, I'll correct this TAB error. Of course the notelength are the most elementary thing he will have to learn. – Albrecht Hügli Aug 28 '19 at 8:21

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