List of Musical Techniques and Their Meanings

Musical techniques are the building blocks of any basic music training. These techniques allow performers to improve their coordination and develop accuracy through repetitive daily exercises. Musical techniques progressively build upon previously learned techniques.


Scales form the basis for other musical techniques. Student may study major and minor scales as well as modern scales, such as the whole-tone and octatonic scales. A scale consists of patterns of half steps and whole steps. These whole steps and half-step arrangements will be different for each scale. Scales are musical techniques that can help a performer to play faster and more accurately, and make learning new pieces easier.


Chords require knowledge of major and minor scales. Chords come in several different forms that affect the sound. Triads consist of three notes spaced a third apart and classified as major, minor, augmented and diminished chords. Seventh chords build on triads and have an additional note a third away from the top note of the triad. To classify as a chord, all members of the triad or seventh chord sound at the same time. Musicians practice chords to improve their ability to play complex chord progressions in music.


Arpeggios are chords not played simultaneously. Musicians play arpeggios in quick succession to increase dexterity and the ability to move quickly around the instrument. Musicians practice this musical technique after scales and chords. These finger exercises help performers develop nimbleness and increase finger independence.


Etudes are short technical pieces designed to improve specific techniques. Béla Bartók wrote “Mikrokosmos,” a series of 153 piano pieces designed to teach the technique in a musical way. Frédéric Chopin and Muzio Clementi also wrote several etudes towards the same goal. Etudes have been used throughout history to help students learn about music.


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