I have a couple of bones to pick with classical music theory. The truth is, it’s great at meaningfully describing classical music, but it breaks down when it attempts to describe popular music. Enter Hooktheory: a series of tools which focus on the rhyme and reason behind modern pop music and songwriting.
You can view thousands of analyses of your favorite songs, explore trends in chord progressions, and experiment with your own chords and melodies. All-in-all, it’s a great place to start grokking the inner workings of pop music without cracking open a book or wading through irrelevant rules.
Hooktheory Features to Check Out:
Whether you’re looking for a comprehensive breakdown of Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ or you’re interested in the nuts and bolts of One Direction’s ‘Little Things,’ Hooktheory probably has what you’re looking for. See which chords and notes are playing in real time, either synced up to a a YouTube video or a midi piano rendition of the song. Then, explore ‘Songs with Similar Chords’ to see other songs with the same, or nearly the same, chord progressions.
Select a chord, and see which chords commonly follow, according to the platform’s crowdsourced database. Select a series of chords, and view all of the songs in the database that use that series of chords. Did you know Adele’s ‘Someone Like You’ uses the same chord progression as Carrie Underwood’s ‘So Small,’ and Bruno Mars’ ‘Grenade’? Neither did I.
Hooktheory’s editor is a sandbox where you can experiment with your own chords and melodies. No experience with an instrument is required, and your progressions can be as simple or as unconventional as you wish.
Hooktheory sells a pop music theory e-book for around $15. While I haven’t purchased the book, the website offers the first chapter for free, and it seems like a promising, fun approach to understanding chords and melodies. Check it out, and grab the book if you enjoy the first chapter.