Can You Break Music Theory?


Jane Flores

Music theory is a fundamental aspect of music education, but can it be broken? It’s a question that has puzzled musicians and scholars alike. In this article, we will explore the concept of breaking music theory and whether it is possible.

What is Music Theory?

Before diving into the question at hand, let’s first understand what music theory is. Music theory is the study of how different elements such as melody, harmony, rhythm, and form come together to create music. It provides musicians with a framework for understanding the structure and composition of musical pieces.

Can Music Theory be Broken?

The short answer is no. Music theory is not a set of rules that must be followed at all times.

Rather, it is a set of guidelines that help musicians create music that sounds good to the ear. While there are certain standard practices in music theory that have been established over time, these are not absolute rules.

The Importance of Understanding Music Theory

While it may be possible to break certain aspects of music theory without sacrificing musicality, it’s important to understand why these guidelines have been established in the first place. For example, understanding basic chord progressions can help you write more effective songs with greater emotional impact.

The Benefits of Breaking Music Theory

There are some instances where breaking music theory may actually lead to more creative and interesting compositions. Experimenting with unconventional chord progressions or time signatures can result in unique sounds and musical experiences.

Examples of Breaking Music Theory

  • Dissonance: Dissonant chords are typically avoided in traditional Western music theory because they sound unpleasant to most people’s ears. However, some composers have used dissonance intentionally to create tension or evoke specific emotions.
  • Atonality: Atonal music lacks a tonal center or key signature, which goes against traditional Western music theory. However, some composers have used atonality to create a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty in their compositions.


In conclusion, while it’s not possible to break music theory entirely, there are instances where deviating from traditional guidelines can result in more unique and creative compositions. However, it’s important to have a solid understanding of music theory before attempting to break the rules. By doing so, you can ensure that your music remains musically coherent and emotionally impactful.