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5th July, 2023

How Music Theory Can Make You a Better DJ/Producer

Making and mixing music as a DJ may be all about creativity and experimentation, but the technical knowledge one can gain from learning music theory will help you take your productions to the next level.

Many DJs and music producers may not know how to learn music theory for music production, or might question the value in spending time and effort learning. In this guide, we’ll explore what music theory is and why it can be very beneficial to DJs and artists wanting to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the industry.

Music Theory: Is it a must?

The short answer is: No, not really. DJs may not necessarily need to know much about music theory, but it can certainly be helpful. In fact, very helpful. From making better song selections to creating more complex and rich mixes, there are a lot of benefits to gaining an understanding of how music works on a more technical level.

For example, by understanding the structure of a song and appreciating the complementary aspects of its different elements, a DJ may be able to create a more cohesive mix and select tracks that one may not have otherwise identified as being as effective. The more one understands about the structure of harmonies, keys and tempo, the more informed and skilled their various musical choices are bound to be.

As a DJ, you’ll likely be remixing and editing existing songs as you create a playlist for an upcoming gig or album. The better you understand the principles behind melodies and harmonies, the better your ability to mix and match songs in an interesting way that takes the original composition up a notch.

If you’re wanting to break into the industry and establish yourself as a respected and professional DJ, music theory also provides another benefit. It will allow you to communicate and integrate more seamlessly with other artists and music producers. Much like sharing a common language, having a deep understanding of music theory will open up doors to collaborations and interactions based on a shared foundational appreciation for music theory.

All of this is to say that while not a requirement for DJs, learning about music theory for music production can be a rewarding and highly beneficial move. 

What is Music Theory exactly?

Music theory is, in summary, the study of the various structures, principles and elements of music. It encompasses a broad range of topics including harmony, rhythm and timbre, as well as basic principles of music notation and even advanced concepts like orchestration and counterpoint.

Musicians with an understanding and appreciation of music theory are better able to make sense of the technical principles behind the music they hear and create. It also empowers artists to better utilise their tools and instruments to bring their own musical ideas to life more effectively and accurately.  

As an example, the concept of harmony is a core component to the study of music theory. When you study harmonies, you learn how chords and notes interact with each other to create tension or to allow a release. Understanding this will allow you to develop better, stronger and more creative mixes as a DJ.

How to Learn Music Theory for Music Production

There are several ways in which you can approach the pursuit of music theory study. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages. 

Online Courses

Online courses have been and continue to be a popular option for musicians, producers and DJs across the world. This convenient, flexible and often affordable approach to the study of music allows you to learn at your own pace and in the comfort of your own home.

The internet is awash with many courses available that range from basic introductory lessons to deeper and more advanced studies of specific topics, such as jazz or counterpoint.

It is important that you do your research and read reviews from other users of any one course under consideration. And remember, that there are plenty of free options out there as well, such as YouTube, that can give you a taste of what sort of online study options exist.

 Instructional Books


Instructional books, books about music theory and even more structured textbooks are a more traditional and yet enduringly popular way to learn. As a DJ who may prefer a somewhat more tactile learning method, you might prefer to find an insightful and understandable instructional book and work through it on your own schedule.

Music theory books often come with exercises, practice materials and guides to help reinforce the theoretical concepts being taught and help you translate it all into practice.

At the end of the day, your study method needs to work for you and your preferences and there’s nothing wrong with opening a book and studying the “old fashioned” way. 

Face-to-Face Courses


If you’d like to undergo structured study but do not want to sit in front of a computer screen, there are plenty of face-to-face courses available on music theory and production. From tertiary educational facilities to independent workshops, even a quick search online will bring up many options for you.

There are benefits to face-to-face learning, of course. It can be more helpful for many and allow you to interact with other musicians, DJs and enthusiasts. However, there may be significantly less flexibility in the timeline and schedule, and some courses–especially accredited courses–can cost a significant amount of money.

One-on-One Lessons

Our last suggested approach for learning music theory is to arrange private one-on-one lessons with a music teacher. While not everyone’s cup of tea, this can be a highly effective way of learning about all things music.

The personalised feedback, tailored lesson plan and focused guidance can be especially helpful for DJs wanting to focus on a specific area of the theory or who want to refine a specific technique. Private tutoring in music theory can also help you understand how to apply the lessons to your DJ work in a far more practical and ready-to-go way than some of the other methods we’ve listed.

Ready to make music? Check out DJ City today!

To help you on your musical and DJing journey, our team right here at DJ City is always available. Apart from our massive range of hardware, equipment and accessories for all things music-making, we love chatting about music theory and discussing the best ways to learn about music theory specifically for music production.

Have a question? Looking for a specific piece of machinery? Just want to have a chat? Give us a call today!

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