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Music is an interesting art form no matter if we're talking about rock and roll or the works of Mozart. There are underlining threads that tie just about every musical style, genre and artist together at the most basic of levels. The concept of notes melody, harmony and rhythms... not necessarily the same set of notes, divisions, rhythms or types of harmony, but the concepts are always there in all forms of music. Some of these concepts, like the concept of rhythm, come quite naturally as rhythm is all around us all the time and just about anything can be used to create rhythm. Other concepts like melody, harmony, or even how pitch divisions relate to notes and melody are a bit more abstract.
These concepts are certainly not "required" to create great music as there are plenty of documented cases of amazing artists who couldn't read music and often times didn't even know what key their songs were in... etc etc. Having a solid understanding of the inner workings of music though, can not only make you a better musician (if you are one), but can enhance your listening experience by giving you a window into the complexity that exists often behind what seems like the most basic and straightforward of songs.
I'm a musician (for something like 15-16 years now, or longer, who can remember) and I'm obsessed with all things musical, so studying music theory is like what I do in my free time, what I do for fun... ridiculous, I know. I'm not going to claim that you'll should break out those music theory books and read up... it's a pretty boring topic if you're not interested and even hardcore musicians can have a hard time getting into it. Still, I think learning a little about how music works can be beneficial to even the most casual listener, and when presented in the right fashion, can even be pretty fascinating.
Luckily for all my readers, I don't have to try to find the best way to present some of the concepts of how music works...I don't think I could do it even if I tried. Instead, there's a cool series of videos available that already have presented and discussed these topics very well.
It's called "How Music Works" of course. Originally a UK documentary from 2006, due to the magic of modern technology it is now available online for our viewing pleasure. Special thanks as always to YouTube, and extra special thanks to timegrinder for uploading this entire series... I think it's very well done and fascinating and as far as I know, it isn't being released on DVD or anything, so I'm glad we have it available online.
I'm only going to include Section 1 on Melody, but there are 4 total, each divided up into something like 5 separate videos.
Here's all 5 parts to Section 1 on Melody
Like I said, this is only Section 1 of this documentary, but with a little searching through the rest of the videos from timegrinder, you should easily be able to find Section 2 on Rhythm, Section 3 on Harmony and Section 4 on Bass.
If you are at all interested in music (and I assume you wouldn't be here if you weren't) I highly recommend you check out the entire series. At the very least I think they'll give you a little insight into the inner workings of all music if you're not already familiar, and at most, well who knows, maybe you'll be inspired to be a musician, composer or songwriter if you aren't already... or maybe you'll be inspired to learn more about music theory... OR maybe it'll just allow you to better appreciate your favorite tunes in a new way.
Hope you enjoy "How Music Works"... I know I did, and I think you will too.