Music theory is the study of the fundamental elements of music, including pitch, rhythm, harmony, and form. It provides a framework for musicians to understand and communicate musical ideas. But who made music theory?

The Ancient Greeks

The roots of music theory can be traced back to ancient Greece. Pythagoras, a philosopher and mathematician, discovered that musical intervals could be expressed as simple ratios of string lengths. This led to the development of the Pythagorean tuning system, which was based on dividing a string into parts that corresponded to whole number ratios.

The Middle Ages

During the Middle Ages, music theory was primarily focused on Gregorian chant and other sacred music. Guido d’Arezzo, an Italian monk, is credited with developing the modern system of musical notation in the 11th century. He also created solfege (do-re-mi), a system of syllables used to teach sight-singing.

The Renaissance

In the Renaissance era (15th-17th centuries), music theory became more complex as composers began writing polyphonic music with multiple voices. Johannes Tinctoris, a Flemish composer and theorist, wrote influential treatises on counterpoint and music notation.

The Baroque Era

The Baroque period (17th-18th centuries) saw the development of tonality and functional harmony. Johann Sebastian Bach is considered one of the greatest composers of this era and his works demonstrate advanced knowledge of counterpoint and harmonic structure.

The Classical Era

During the Classical era (18th-19th centuries), music theory became more standardized as composers such as Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Ludwig van Beethoven followed strict rules for form and structure in their compositions.

The Romantic Era

In the Romantic period (19th century), composers such as Frederic Chopin and Franz Liszt expanded the tonal system and experimented with new forms of expression. Music theory continued to evolve with the study of acoustics, psychoacoustics, and music psychology.


In conclusion, music theory has a rich history that spans centuries and civilizations. From ancient Greece to the modern era, musicians and theorists have developed a framework for understanding and creating music. By studying music theory, we can deepen our appreciation for the art of music and unlock new possibilities for creative expression.