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Music Theory for Songwriters: The Fundamentals

via LinkedIn Learning


Professional musician Julian Velard covers the basics of music theory through the lens of songwriting. Explore intervals, chord progressions, voice leading, song forms, and more.

Music theory is fundamental to making and playing music. However, no one has taught it in such a user-friendly and songwriting-focused way as we do here, using both keyboard and guitar to demonstrate the techniques.

Professional musician Julian Velard starts the course with the building blocks of harmony: notes, scales, intervals, chords, inversions, and basic chord progressions. He then goes into voice leading—showing how to move from one chord to another by changing just one or two notes—and reviews common song forms, from the familiar verse/chorus/verse of pop to the simple verse of the blues. At the end of each chapter, Julian explains the songwriting techniques shown in the chapter within the context of his own original commercially released songs.


  • Welcome
  • What you should know before watching this course
  • Why is music theory important and useful?
1. The Building Blocks of Harmony
  • The octave
  • Seven white notes and five black notes
  • The diatonic scale and the major scale
  • Intervals: Major and perfect
  • Intervals: Minor, augmented, and diminished
  • The concept of key
  • The circle of fourths and fifths
  • Figuring out intervals
2. Triads and Chord Progressions
  • Triads: The basics of chords
  • Triad inversions
  • Voicing
  • Common major scale chord progressions
  • Authentic cadences
  • Plagal, half, and deceptive cadences
  • Triads, chord progressions, and cadences in a song
3. Chord Progressions and Voice Leading
  • What is voice leading?
  • Voice leading one note between triads
  • The suspended chord
  • Voice leading two notes and three notes between major triads
  • Voice leading two notes and three notes between minor triads
  • Changing the bass note of a chord
  • Voice leading chord progressions in a song
4. Song Forms
  • The importance of song form
  • Beats, bars, and phrases
  • The elements of song form
  • The intro song form element
  • The verse song form element
  • The chorus song form element
  • The hook song form element
  • The refrain song form element
  • The bridge or middle-eight song form element
  • The pre-chorus song form element
  • Familiar pop song forms
  • Verse/chorus/bridge forms
  • Simple verse form
  • Verse without chorus form
  • AABA 32-bar form
  • Through-composed song forms
  • Looking at a song's form
  • Next steps

Taught by

Julian Velard

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