Music Theory Comprehensive: Part 2 - Chords, Scales, & Keys

A Complete College-Level Music Theory Curriculum. This is Part 2: Understanding all chords, scales, and keys.
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  • Lectures 58
  • Length 5 hours
  • Skill Level Beginner Level
  • Languages English, captions
  • Includes Lifetime access
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    Available on iOS and Android
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About This Course

Published 3/2016 English Closed captions available

Course Description

For years I've been teaching Music Theory in the college classroom. These classes I'm making for Udemy use the same syllabus I've used in my college classes for years, at a fraction of the cost. I believe anyone can learn Music Theory - and cost shouldn't be a barrier.

Recently I was named as a semi-finalist for the Grammy Foundation's Music Educator of the Year award because of my in-person university classes. Now I'm taking those classes to Udemy in an online format in order to reach more students, and give them the joy of Music Theory.

My approach to music theory is to minimize the memorization. Most of these concepts you can learn by just understanding why chords behave in certain ways. Once you understand those concepts, you can find any scale, key, or chord that exists. Even invent your own.

This class is a Comprehensive class - it will have many parts, going through my entire annual curriculum.

This class is Part 2: Chords, Scales, and Keys.

Throughout this class, I'll be providing you with 8 worksheets for you to practice the concepts on. If you get stuck, you can review the videos or post a question, and I'll back to it as fast as possible. Also in this class I have several complete analysis projects that we will complete together - just like in my college classes.

In this class, we will cover:

  • My approach to Music Theory
  • Tools you will need to learn Music Theory quickly and efficiently
  • Chromatic and Diatonic scales
  • Ordered Pitch Class Collections
  • The pattern of a Major Scale
  • Scale Degrees
  • Solfege
  • Writing melodies with major scales
  • Analyzing melodies
  • What it means to be "in key"
  • Key signatures
  • How to identify key signatures
  • Popular song analysis
  • Building triads (chords)
  • Diatonic chord progressions
  • Roman numeral analysis
  • Inversions
  • Finding chords by formula
  • The thirds inside of a chord
  • Finding fifths by finding thirds
  • Diminished triads
  • Augmented triads
  • Chords on the guitar
  • Full Analysis: Canon in D (Pachabel)
  • Full Analysis: Minuet in G (Bach)
  • 7th Chords
  • Major 7th Chords
  • Minor 7th Chords
  • Dominant 7th Chords
  • ...and much, much more!

And of course, once you sign up for Part 2 - Chords, Scales, and Keys, you automatically get huge discounts to all the upcoming parts of this class.

You will not have another opportunity to learn Music Theory in a more comprehensive way than this. Start here.

Dr. Jason Allen is an Ableton Certified Trainer, and a PhD in Music Composition and master of Electronic Sounds. His music has been heard internationally in film, radio, video games, and industrial sound, as well as the concert hall and theater. His 2015 album, Aniscorcia, reaching the CMJ Top200 Charts and radio broadcasts nationwide. In 2014 he was named a semi-finalist for the Grammy Music Educator Award.

He currently as an adjunct professor of composition at the University of St. Thomas, and the CEO of Slam Academy in Minneapolis.

Praise for classes by Dr. Jason Allen:

  • "Without a doubt the best explanation and east of use that one can get. It leaves you enough room to go explore. The classes go by quick, so you can be on your way at being proficient. What are you wait for!"

  • "Amazing - Seriously Loved It! I took all his courses and have to say I'm so happy! Learnt loads! Jason is an awesome teacher!"

  • "I have never had any formal training in music at all. Trying to learn all the notes and how everything translated was a serious challenge. After going through this class, Dr. J has totally brought down the barriers. The content was very useful and was easy to grasp for me."

  • "I like these courses because you can get up and running quickly without having to spend hours of time wading through TMI (too much information!). Jason hits the high points but shows you what you need to know. Thanks!"

  • "I've watched many other videos on scales and chords before, however, this one has been the best. I now understand minor scales and chords and even how to analyze songs. It really gave me the confidence to start producing music because I feel like I have some structure and guidelines to follow. AWESOME!"

  • "Clear and Informative - Jason has a clear uncluttered style (with the important dashes of humor) of presentation that is focused on the important key aspects of this course. Recommended for those starting out!"

  • "Dr. Allen does it again with his music theory series. This course really opened up everything I learned from the 1st section, and now I understand more about the composition side of things for music. I highly highly recommend this course to anyone!!! Really opened my eyes to many things I wasn't aware of."

  • "The Best Teacher Ever, who makes you understand the ins & outs of Music Theory by all means without giving what you don't want to know."

What are the requirements?

  • Students who have taken Music Theory Comprehensive Part 1 - How To Read Music will benefit from some concepts, but it is not required.
  • This courses assumes students know the basics of how to read music. (Those who can not identify notes in treble clef should start with Music Theory Comprehensive Part 1)

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Identify Scales, Keys, and Chords by Sight
  • Create Music by Using Music Theory Principals
  • Find Any Chord, Key, or Scale by Applying Principals - Not Memorization

Who is the target audience?

  • This course is designed for anyone who has wondered about music theory and is ready to fully explore it.
  • Songwriters, producers, and instrumentalists will benefit from this course by understanding music on a deeper level.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.


Section 1: Introduction

Welcome to the class! Here is a quick overview of what we will cover, and a little previous of what is to come!


I'm going to be using a program to show (and playback) notes throughout this class, and I think you should too. Its a free program, and can really help you learn.


You also can't go wrong with some good old-fashioned staff paper.

Section 2: Chromatic & Diatonic Scales

Scales are the basic building blocks for musical keys and chords.


Two important words that we need to learn ASAP: Chromatic and Diatonic.


"Ordered Pitch Class Collections" is sort of a fancy term for a scale, but its important to know.


Chromatic scales can be both the most easy to understand and the most complicated.

Section 3: The Major Scale

A major scale is little more than a pattern. If you understand the pattern, you can find any major scale.


Tonic is another word for the first note in our scale. We label each note of the scale with a number called a "scale degree."


Do - a deer, a female deer. Ray, a drop of golden sun... This is solfege, and it can be a great way to learn to hear scales.


Throughout this course I'm going to give you a bunch of worksheets. In this video I'll talk about how to use them and how to practice music theory in general.


Your first worksheet!

Section 4: Scales and Keys

Major scales are only useful if we know how to use them. In this video we will start by looking at writing a melody in a major key.


Next, lets look at a familiar melody and see how it uses the major scale.


You might be confused about the difference between "scale" and "key" - lets clear that up in this video.


Here is your second practice worksheet. Please download it and use it to practice. The answers are on the last page.

Challenge yourself! If you get something wrong, review the videos or post a question!

Section 5: Major Keys

Time to talk about keys!


Key signatures are the quick way to tell what key we are in.


There are 2 important tricks to identifying a key signature.


Here is your third practice worksheet. Please download it and use it to practice. The answers are on the last page.

Challenge yourself! If you get something wrong, review the videos or post a question!

Section 6: Chords!

Chords are the building blocks that create harmony. Without chords (or harmony), we only have melodies.


Looking at a familiar song can help us to understand chords and harmony a little better.


The first type of chord we will focus in is a triad. Triads are the most basic of all chords, but all chords are based on triads.


Finding the pattern!


How do we know what kinds of triads are in a key? Another pattern tells us the answer to all of that.


Now it is time to make those triads sound a little better using inversions.


In music theory, we use roman numerals to label chords in a key.


Here is the song again, but now we know how to analyize chords. Lets do a roman numeral analysis of this song.


Here is your fourth practice worksheet. Please download it and use it to practice. The answers are on the last page.

Challenge yourself! If you get something wrong, review the videos or post a question!

Section 7: Dissecting Triads

Time to open up these triads and see what is inside!


The title says it all: The third holds the power.


We can always count half steps to find the notes we need in a chord.


A faster way to find a fifth is to understand the two thirds that make up the full chord.


Here is your fifth practice worksheet. Please download it and use it to practice. The answers are on the last page.

Challenge yourself! If you get something wrong, review the videos or post a question!

Section 8: More with Triads

Time to go back and look at that odd Diminished triad.


The diminished triad has a cousin, and it is called the Augmented triad.


How does adding more octaves to our triads effect their name?


Chords on the guitar behave oddly with octaves. Lets take a quick look.


Here is your sixth practice worksheet. Please download it and use it to practice. The answers are on the last page.

Challenge yourself! If you get something wrong, review the videos or post a question!

Section 9: Pieces for Analysis

Why do we analyze pieces? Why is this a useful exercise?


You've heard this piece a hundred times. Sometimes called "the wedding song".


As we just learned, not every note of a piece will be in a chord. When it isn't, we call it a non-chord tone.


Get ready for a ride! We are going to go through this piece and look at every single note.


Part 2 of our Minuet in G analysis.

Part 3 of our Minuet in G analysis.

Download and keep a copy!


Here is your seventh practice worksheet. Please download it and use it to practice. The answers are on the last page.

Challenge yourself! If you get something wrong, review the videos or post a question!

Section 10: 7th Chords

We know about triads, but what if we add another note? Things get more complicated!


With 7th chords, we have four types that can happen.


The "pretty" chord, and a little Red Hot Chili Peppers.


Minor 7th chords have a bit of a jazz quality to them, but can be useful in a few different ways.


We've talked about "tendency tones" - and nothing is stronger than the dominant 7th chord when it comes to tendency.


Lets take another look at that Minuet in G, but this time consider 7th chords.


The blues is made up of mostly un-resolved 7th chords.


Here is your eighth practice worksheet. Please download it and use it to practice. The answers are on the last page.

Challenge yourself! If you get something wrong, review the videos or post a question!

Section 11: Wrap Up

Music Theory is a huge topic. It typically lasts four semesters in college. We've made huge progress in this class, but there is more to come.


Thats it for this class! Stay tuned for the next one!


You've come this far...

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Instructor Biography

Jason Allen, Ph.D / Ableton Certified Trainer

J. Anthony Allen has worn the hats of composer, producer, songwriter, engineer, sound designer, DJ, remix artist, multi-media artist, performer, inventor, and entrepreneur. Allen is a versatile creator whose diverse project experience ranges from works written for the Minnesota Orchestra to pieces developed for film, TV, and radio. An innovator in the field of electronic performance, Allen performs on a set of “glove” controllers, which he has designed, built, and programmed by himself. When he’s not working as a solo artist, Allen is a serial collaborator. His primary collaborative vehicle is the group Ballet Mech, for which Allen is one of three producers.

J. Anthony Allen teaches at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN., and is an Ableton Live Certified Trainer. He is a co-founder and owner of Slam Academy, a multimedia educational space in downtown Minneapolis. Recently, Allen founded Hackademica – an innovative net-label for new music.

J. has a PhD in music composition, 2 Master’s degrees in music composition and electronic music, and a bachelors degree in guitar performance. Through his academic travels, Dr. Allen has received numerous awards along the way.

If you run into him on the street, he prefers to be addressed as J. (as in, Jay.)

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