Music theory is a fundamental aspect of music composition. It helps composers understand the rules and principles behind the creation of music.

But do composers actually use music theory in their work? In this article, we’ll explore this question and examine the role of music theory in composition.

What is Music Theory?

Music theory is a set of principles that govern the creation and understanding of music. It covers topics such as harmony, melody, rhythm, form, and notation. Understanding these concepts allows composers to create music that is organized, coherent, and pleasing to the ear.

Do Composers Use Music Theory?

The short answer is yes, most composers use music theory in their work. However, the extent to which they use it can vary greatly.

Some composers may have an intuitive understanding of music theory without formally studying it. Others may have a deep knowledge of complex theoretical concepts but choose to ignore them in favor of experimentation.

Benefits of Using Music Theory

While some composers may choose to ignore or deviate from traditional music theory practices, there are many benefits to using it in composition. Here are a few:

The Relationship Between Music Theory and Creativity

One common misconception about music theory is that it stifles creativity. However, many great works of music were created using traditional music theory concepts. In fact, a strong foundation in theory can provide a framework for creative experimentation.

For example: A composer who understands the principles of harmony and chord progressions can use that knowledge to create unexpected and interesting harmonic structures. A composer who understands rhythm and meter can experiment with complex rhythmic patterns.

The Role of Intuition in Composition

While music theory is an important tool for composers, intuition also plays a crucial role. Intuition refers to the ability to understand or know something without conscious reasoning. In composition, intuition can guide a composer’s decisions about melody, harmony, rhythm, and form.

For example: A composer may have an intuitive sense of when a melody needs to resolve to a certain note, even if they can’t explain why that note feels right.


In conclusion, most composers do use music theory in their work to some extent. While it’s not necessary to have an advanced degree in music theory to compose great works of music, having a solid understanding of its principles can provide benefits such as organization, communication, inspiration, and creativity.

At the same time, intuition plays an important role in guiding a composer’s decisions about musical elements such as melody and harmony. Ultimately, the relationship between music theory and creativity is complex and varies from composer to composer.