Music Theory

Music Theory covers the nuts and bolts of music composition–materials (scales, chords, etc.) and analytical strategies (themes, form, etc.). This is essential knowledge for composers, performers, and listeners and offers a fascinating view inside the musical work.

Students most often fulfill music theory requirements with courses chosen from the following list:

  • THEORY 137: Introduction to the Theory of Music
  • THEORY 238: Introduction to Musical Analysis

Each semester, SMTD offers a wide array of additional theory courses, all of which are eligible to be counted toward music major and minor requirements. Please see the SMTD Course Descriptions page for more information about regularly offered theory courses, and be sure to check Wolverine Access for information on current offerings and special courses.  Note that a full four-semester track of Music Theory courses is required as a pre-requisite to most upper-level Theory courses in SMTD.


It is usually best to take music theory classes back-to-back, as the sequence is cumulative and success in a subsequent class builds upon the previous. Timing here is important as Theory 137 is typically offered in the fall and Theory 238 is typically offered in the winter. Do not leave theory to your senior year as any problem that arises can make it difficult to complete the requirement as few substitutions are available.