Music Theory/Fundamentals of Common Practice Music
This section is intended for those without any experience with Western music notation and associated practices.
Humans with the ability to hear, experience sound when delicate structures inside their ears detect waves of pressure traveling through the air (or any other medium to which they are mechanically coupled). When these waves are regular, and arrive at intervals that fall within a certain range, we recognize a tone, or note. Notes are the basic elements of Western music.
When the waves causing a note are close together, and so cause more vibrations per second in our ears, we say that tones have a higher frequency or pitch. Pitch is measured in Hertz (Hz). When the waves are further apart we say they have a lower frequency or pitch. When we hear series of higher and lower notes either singly or in groups, themselves spaced out at different points in time and of different durations, and the variation in their frequencies, spacing, and lengths are patterned in ways that correspond to established rules, we recognize the sound as music.