An Essential Guide To The Best Music Theory App

Technology is wonderful, and finding the best music theory app to help you learn can be a game-changer! Let’s dive in!

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In this free lesson you will learn…

  • Our top 8 music theory apps
  • How to use apps and technology to benefit your learning
  • Why kids’ learning apps are so awesome
  • How to find the best app for you and your learning style

The Best Music Theory App Makes It Easier To Learn

Getting familiar with music theory is the most fun side-effect of learning the guitar.

At first, you can get away with just learning chord shapes and scale forms and not really having to care about how music works.

There comes a point in every guitarist’s life, however, where a little light bulb goes on.

  • We begin to make connections with chord progressions and scales, and suddenly understanding music seems a bit easier.
  • At that point you’re well on your way down the rabbit hole, my friend!
  • You’ve entered the fascinating world of music theory!

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There’s a common misconception that in order to learn music theory, you have to learn how to read music.

  • Of course, learning the written language of music is a great idea, and everyone should do it.
  • The one problem with trying to learn theory out of a book is that it is all written in notation.

It’s not necessary to read music to understand how it works, but understanding how music works makes your life as a guitarist unimaginably better.

Whether or not you are interested in reading music, here is our rundown of the best music theory app for several different practical categories!

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Best Music Theory App: Music Tutor

Due to guitarists frequently using chord charts and tablature to figure out how to play songs, reading standard music notation seems a bit unnecessary.

For songwriters, arrangers, and people who play in ensembles with different instruments however, reading music can really help you communicate more clearly.

When you are looking at lead sheets, the melody of the song is frequently written out in standard notation as well.

To develop some skills at reading notation, check out Music Tutor.

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Music Tutor is available for free, with ads, on iOS and Android, and can be upgraded if you can’t deal with ads.

  • This is the best music theory app for teaching you how to decode standard notation.
  • On the guitar, you’ll be using the treble clef, but it has bass and alto clef capabilities as well.
  • You can quiz yourself, review your mistakes, and improve quickly at identifying the letter names of the notes on the staff.

It also has a feature for reviewing solfege – That’s the do-re-mi method of naming notes, and that helps you figure out where you are in any given major scale.

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Best Music Theory App: Earmaster

One of the trickiest things about developing an understanding of music theory is learning how to listen.

That seems a little counterintuitive, because the thing that gets us interested in music theory in the first place is that we enjoy listening to music!

What’s actually difficult about it is learning to identify, understand, and replicate the things we are listening to.

For the best music theory app at teaching you what to listen for and how to identify it, here’s Earmaster.

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Although the Earmaster app is only available for iOS, you can use it on a PC or a Mac. According to the developer, the Android version of the app is coming soon.

  • The free version of the app has 20 lessons from its beginning music theory course.
  • It also has interval and chord identification quizzes.

You can also purchase a comprehensive beginning music theory course and a handful of specialized workshops to pursue a particular area of theory.

Earmaster’s main selling point as the best music theory app for ear training is the interactivity. The interface is appealing, and the app is nicely customizable.

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Pro-Tip: There are so many fun music theory channels on YouTube, it would be impossible to list them all. Check out 12 Tone Music’s YouTube channel for one rather entertaining example.

Best Music Theory App: Chord!

The main instrument on which music theory is taught has traditionally been the piano. There are great reasons for this.

  • The piano only has one location for each pitch, and the geography of the piano, with its patterns of black and white keys, is easy to understand visually.
  • This is much unlike the guitar, which is a matrix of notes.
  • The piano is linear, and that makes things easier to find without having to memorize note locations.

So there are tons of music theory apps that focus on the piano and use that as the filter through which all theory information passes.

Download Chord! and get ready to learn music theory in a way that is refreshingly guitar-centric. It’s hands-down the best music theory app for practical guitar learning.

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Chord! is available on the iPhone as well as Android phones, and although it isn’t free, it is worth it for ease of navigation, use of guitar language, and features.

In the guitar category, this is the best music theory app because it has not only an extensive chord library but also scale patterns for you to learn.

One of the best ways to learn music theory on and for the guitar is “map-making” – that is, making your own chord and lyric charts to better understand the structure of the songs you want to learn.

Chord! allows you to do that with songs you find on the internet, or songs you compose!

Best Music Theory App: Tonedear

Learning music theory is, in a fundamental sense, learning the language of music.

There’s the written language, and then there’s the oral language.

  • Being able to communicate in music as though it were your native language requires pretty thorough command of both.
  • Working on the same skills from multiple sources necessarily deepens your knowledge of music, so you can never have too many ear training apps.

Tonedear (“toned ear”) is here to make sure that your ears understand how music works on all levels.

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Tonedear is primarily a website, but offers apps for iPhone and Android users that replicate the website experience so you can work offline.

  • With the app’s interval quizzes, you’ll learn to identify the relationship between two notes. This is probably the most important musical skill you can develop.
  • There is a similar exercise for chord progressions, so you can identify the relationship between two chords.
  • There’s also an exercise to help you identify the character of chords.
  • You’ll learn to identify by ear where notes sit in a scale. Tonedear is the best music theory app for honing these essential and practical skills.

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Best Music Theory App: Waay

Every once in a while, you get caught in a conversation about a legendary songwriter, and someone inevitably says, “Well, so-and-so didn’t know anything about music theory!”

  • That may be so, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good to learn about it anyway.
  • Most songwriters will have at least a bare-bones understanding of how songs work.

You may not be able to pinpoint why a song works, but you certainly know whether it works or not.

The best music theory app for focusing on songwriting, Waay, does a great job of connecting up the “whether” and the “why” with some basic essential skills.

Guitar-Music-Theory

Apologies to Android users, but Waay seems to be only available for iOS right now.

Waay is the best music theory app for songwriting because it gets right to the heart of what’s important to the songwriting creative process.

  • The app covers basic skills like keys, sharps, flats, and scales, which are all things that you have to care about and understand.
  • Using this app will give you the practical knowledge you need to apply to your current musical life and will help you to connect all the pieces of music theory you know to the larger system that it is.
  • There are video lessons and you can track your progress in the app; more importantly, you can repeat lessons until you are sure you follow what is happening!

Easy-music-theory-lesson

Best Music Theory App: Chordbot Lite

A lot of available music theory apps on the market are instrument-centric, meaning that they assume you have mastered or are concurrently mastering a musical instrument.

However, there are plenty of people interested in music theory whose main musical instrument is either their voice or their ears.

There is an advantage to being able to understand music theory without having it tied to this instrument or that, because the principles apply across the board.

Chordbot Lite is the best music theory app for experimenting with composition without having to play any musical instrument.

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Chordbot is available for iOS and Android.

  • The thing that makes it so much fun is that it gives you everything you need not only to compose and hear a song, but understand how you’re putting it together.
  • There are keys to choose from, chords and chord extensions, instrumentation choices, and everything else you need to make a backing track for your composition.
  • Chordbot will keep you busy for hours composing and arranging. Do you have to know anything about composition ahead of time? No! Just get the app and start messing around with it.

It’s music theory, applied in the most fun and practical way.

National-Guitar-Academy

Download our lead guitar cheat-sheet to make things easier

It can be disorientating for guitarists to understand which scales work with which keys.

With this in mind, we created a cheat-sheet; a key and scale-finder that you can use again and again.

Best Music Theory App: Flashnote Derby

If you would like to learn how to sight-read or sight-sing music, there are a couple of skills that are absolutely necessary.

There are a few schools of thought on the best way to read standard notation, but they all share one thing in common:

You have to learn to identify the letter names of the notes by their location on the staff.

Sure, it’s the best music theory app for kids, but FlashNote Derby is also just a fun and gratifying way to improve your skills at reading music.

Flashnote Derby is based on the time-honored concept of flash cards, a time-tested method of training yourself to recognize something on sight.

  • The app is a horse race, and your horse speeds up or slows down depending on how quickly and correctly you identify the note shown on the staff.
  • You can customize the app (its best educational feature) to include different clefs and ranges of notes.

Another appealing aspect of Flashnote Derby is that unlike other fancier apps, this music theory app does just one thing, and it does it extremely well: prepares you to be able to read pitch notation.

What makes this the best music theory app for learning to sight-read notes is how it turns music theory into a game!

Best Music Theory App: Rhythm Cat

If there’s one single thing about learning music that is more complicated and difficult to internalize than memorizing note names, it’s learning how rhythmic notation works.

  • You just cannot learn rhythm from a book, because there is no way to put the understanding of rhythm into your head without making a physical connection to how the rhythm feels.
  • Listening to rhythm is very helpful, and it’s possible to mimic rhythm easily, but that’s just not enough to store it into memory or to reproduce it.

You need both ideas working in order to really understand and be able to communicate in rhythm, and that is where Rhythm Cat comes in.

Rhythm Cat is definitely the best music theory app for learning rhythm.

The good news is that Rhythm Cat Lite is free, but the bad news is that it is only available on iOS.

It’s an animated game that teaches you note values and rest values, which are the two main components of rhythmic notation, how long sound and silence should last.

It’s progressive, so you have to pass one level to get to the next.

  • Rhythm Cat looks like it’s made for children, but the music is great and you will definitely improve your rhythm skills by using this app.
  • There are also other paid versions of Rhythm Cat available.
  • Work all the way through the app and then you can decide whether to use the paid version.

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Finding The Best Music Theory App For You

Whether you prefer music theory apps to be more game-like and engaging, or more academic and intellectually satisfying, the best music theory app for you is the one that you will use most.

We recommend that you try a variety, from kids’ game-based apps to explanation-based courses.

There is something in each of these that will reach you and deepen your understanding of how music works, and that’s the main goal!

Recommended Resources

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