Music is an integral part of human life, and has been so for centuries. It has the power to evoke emotions in people and bring them together.

However, music theory, which is the study of how music works, is a relatively recent development in human history. In this article, we’ll explore who invented music theory and how it has evolved over time.

The Origins of Music Theory

Music theory can be traced back to the ancient Greeks. Pythagoras, a Greek philosopher and mathematician, is credited with discovering the mathematical principles behind musical intervals. He realized that musical notes could be expressed as fractions, and that certain ratios between these fractions produced harmonious sounds.

The Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages (500-1400 AD), music theory was primarily concerned with the rules governing chant melodies used in religious services. This period saw the development of musical notation, which allowed composers to write down their compositions on paper for others to perform.

The Renaissance

The Renaissance (1400-1600 AD) marked a period of great innovation in music theory. Composers such as Josquin des Prez and Giovanni Pierluigi da Palestrina developed new techniques such as polyphony (the use of multiple melodies at once) and harmony (the use of chords).

The Baroque Era

The Baroque era (1600-1750 AD) saw further developments in music theory. Composers such as Johann Sebastian Bach and George Frideric Handel explored new forms such as the fugue and developed more complex harmonic structures.

The Classical Era

The Classical era (1750-1820 AD) was characterized by a return to simplicity in music theory. Composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven focused on melody and form rather than complex harmonies.

The Romantic Era

The Romantic era (1820-1910 AD) saw a resurgence of interest in harmony and emotion in music theory. Composers such as Frederic Chopin and Richard Wagner used complex harmonies and new forms such as the symphonic poem to express intense emotions.


In conclusion, music theory has come a long way since its inception in ancient Greece. From the mathematical principles of Pythagoras to the emotional expression of the Romantic era, music theory has evolved to encompass a wide range of styles and techniques. While we may never know who exactly invented music theory, we can appreciate the impact it has had on our understanding and enjoyment of music today.