Music theory is an essential aspect of the music industry. It allows musicians to understand the building blocks of music, explore different musical compositions, and create new sounds.

However, have you ever wondered who came up with music theory? Let’s dive into the fascinating history of this subject.

What is Music Theory?

Music theory is a framework that explains how we perceive and create music. It includes various elements such as melody, harmony, rhythm, and form. By understanding these components, musicians can analyze and compose music effectively.

The Origins of Music Theory

The ancient Greeks were the first to develop a systematic approach to music. They believed that music had a mathematical basis and used ratios to explain different musical intervals. Pythagoras was one of the most influential Greek philosophers who contributed to the development of early music theory.

During the Middle Ages, European monks developed a system for writing down music using neumes or symbols placed above text to indicate pitch changes. Guido d’Arezzo was an Italian monk who created a system of notation using lines and spaces that are still used today.

The Renaissance Period

The Renaissance period brought significant changes to music theory. Composers began experimenting with new techniques such as polyphony, where multiple voices or instruments play simultaneously. This led to the development of notation systems that could capture these complex compositions accurately.

Johann Sebastian Bach was one of the most influential composers during this period. He created innovative pieces that pushed the boundaries of what was possible in classical music.

The Modern Era

In the 19th century, many composers began breaking away from traditional rules and structures in classical music. They experimented with new chord progressions, scales, and rhythms that challenged traditional understandings of harmony and melody.

Arnold Schoenberg was one such composer who developed atonal or twelve-tone composition techniques that abandoned traditional tonality. This new approach to music theory paved the way for modern music and has influenced many contemporary musicians.


In conclusion, music theory has a rich history that spans centuries. From the ancient Greeks to modern-day composers, many musicians have contributed to the development of this subject. Understanding the basics of music theory can help you appreciate and analyze different musical compositions better.