Learning: Music Theory with Building Blocks

Finally! Months after I started, I finally got to the final exercice of Building Blocks (all lessons), an interactive web app to learn Music Theory. It was hard, but fun!

I already followed Audible Genius previous learning software, Syntorial, which aimed to learned Sound Synthesis (in musical context). I followed it as well few years, but have published an article about this for some reasons.

Back to Building Blocks, I think it is a really great way to learn music theory and start making eletronic based music, or any kind of music composition. There is a clear direction across the lessons. Every exercice is introduced by an explantation video, in simple to understand language, and then you go the the MIDI editor page for the practice (see first image above). Most exercices are based on ear training, to become able to reproduce some patterns by ear. It goes quite advanced, when you have to transcribe a 4 bar longs pattern, with a complete drum set, a bass line, a chord track, a melodic voice, different articulation like legatos, grace notes, the whole thing in 16th shuffle and that you have chord inversions!

Progression inside a lesson, in a fancy node based UI.

There are also composition exercices, which is great to actually encourage users to create patterns, related to the curent lesson. Though you are not evaluated on your composition, but if you take the challenge seriously (aka, you respect the instructions), it really help to be in a certain mind set and actually practice what you are learning, which is very nice from a pedagogic point of view. And you can even save all your pattern in audio or MIDI for later! There are even experimentation exercices, in which you are invited to bend the rules you just learned, which is a great way to stimulate creativity and out of the box thinking in artistic context.

On the downside, advanced users may regret the lack of features of the MIDI editor (especially missing keyboard shortcuts), but it is surely good enough for beginners. There has been some rare bugs, but the support is great. The sound are sometimes a beet cheesy, and I would have appreciated more exercices based on certain styles, to learn different musical compositions tricks for specific genre, but overall it is was really great experience.

Finally went to the last exercice!

I already add lot of training in ear training with my metal cover videos series in particular, for which I often rely on ear for guitar transcription when tabs are not available, and I know quite a lot about music theory already, but I always find interesting to go back to the basics, to see how these concepts can be explained in the pedagogic ways (and there are some of these things I keep forgetting for some reasons, like sus4). I really encourage any people interested in music composition and beat making to try Building Blocks, as it was fun and very informative, and it really helps having some solid base knowledge about music in general.

Let me know if you try it!

Have fun!