Pop music has been around for decades and its popularity only seems to increase with time. But, have you ever wondered whether pop artists actually know music theory? Let’s dive into this topic and find out.

What is Music Theory?

Music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music. It includes various elements like melody, harmony, rhythm, scales, chords, and more. Understanding music theory can help a musician compose better songs and communicate better with other musicians.

Do Pop Artists Know Music Theory?

The answer to this question is not straightforward. Some pop artists have formal training in music and possess a deep understanding of music theory. On the other hand, some pop artists do not have any formal training but still manage to create hit songs.

Pop Artists with Formal Training

There are many pop artists who have a background in music theory or have received formal training in music. For example, Taylor Swift learned to play guitar at a young age and later studied songwriting at Nashville’s Belmont University. She has also mentioned in interviews that she enjoys experimenting with different chord progressions.

Another example is Bruno Mars who comes from a family of musicians and started performing at a young age. He attended a performing arts school where he honed his skills in singing, dancing, and playing multiple instruments.

Pop Artists Without Formal Training

There are also many successful pop artists who do not have any formal training in music theory but still manage to create catchy tunes that top the charts. For example, Billie Eilish started writing songs at a young age without any formal training in music theory. She often collaborates with her brother Finneas O’Connell who produces her songs and helps her bring her ideas to life.

Another example is Ed Sheeran who started playing guitar at a young age but never received any formal training. He has mentioned in interviews that he learned to play by watching YouTube videos and practicing for hours.


In conclusion, whether pop artists know music theory or not, the most important thing is that they create music that connects with their audience. While formal training in music theory can definitely help a musician in their career, it’s not a requirement for success. Ultimately, what matters is the talent, hard work, and dedication that an artist puts into their craft.

So next time you are listening to your favorite pop song, remember that the artist behind it may or may not have had formal training in music theory but what matters most is how the song makes you feel.