Music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music. It encompasses many different aspects, including composition, performance, and analysis.

Music theory can be broken down into several different types, each with its own focus and purpose. In this article, we’ll explore how many types of music theory there are and what each one involves.

What is Music Theory?

Before we dive into the different types of music theory, let’s define what exactly music theory is. At its most basic level, music theory is the study of how music works. This includes the rules and principles that govern melody, harmony, rhythm, form, and more.

The Different Types of Music Theory

There are several different types of music theory that musicians can study to improve their understanding of music. Some of the most common ones include:

1. Western Classical Music Theory

Western classical music theory focuses on the practices and principles used in European classical music from the Medieval period through the present day. This type of music theory covers topics such as notation, harmony, counterpoint, form, and orchestration.

2. Jazz Theory

Jazz theory is a type of music theory that focuses specifically on jazz music. It covers topics such as chord progressions, improvisation techniques, and swing rhythms.

3. Pop/Rock Music Theory

Pop/rock music theory is a type of music theory that focuses on the principles used in popular and rock music from the 1950s to today. It covers topics such as chord progressions, song structure, and production techniques.

4. World Music Theory

World music theory encompasses a wide range of musical traditions from around the world. This type of music theory covers topics such as rhythm patterns, scales/modes used in different cultures’ musical traditions, and instrumentation.

Why Study Music Theory?

Studying music theory can benefit musicians in a variety of ways. For one, it can improve their understanding of how music works, allowing them to compose and perform with greater skill and creativity. It can also help them communicate more effectively with other musicians, as they’ll have a shared vocabulary to discuss musical concepts.

Furthermore, studying music theory can help musicians appreciate different genres of music more fully. By understanding the principles behind different musical styles, they can better appreciate the nuances and complexities of each genre.


Music theory is a vast field that covers many different aspects of music. Whether you’re interested in classical, jazz, pop/rock, or world music, there’s a type of music theory that can help you deepen your understanding and improve your skills as a musician. So why not dive in and start exploring?