6 irresistibly clever cartoons to explain classical music theory

24 January 2020, 18:25

By Kyle Macdonald

Cartoons are fun, and so is music theory! Here are a few of our favourite sketches that can also teach you an impressive amount about the rudiments of music.

  1. Sonata form as a romance

    Here’s a visual vignette to detail the complexities of sonata form. It’s basically a romance between the musical themes: the meeting, the chase (and conflicts) and the resolution. Aww!

    Classic Jenny is on Tumblr and is one of our favourite classical caricaturists.

  2. Sonata form as a graphic

    The very entertaining piano cartoonist don't shoot the pianist shares this quirky guide. In Sonata form, the first and second subjects (remember the two characters of the romance?) travel though the twists and turns of a musical opening movement, complete with unexpected additional modulations. We’re looking at you, Beethoven...

    More classical cartoons from don't shoot the pianist

    One of my favourites! (originally published 3 Mar 2013)

    Posted by don't shoot the pianist on Wednesday, 9 August 2017
  3. Notes of a scale, on a night out at the club

    Tone Deaf Comics without fail always finds the right blend of musical geekery and visual lols. Here are the notes of the scale, enjoying a night out together.

    Tonal functions cartoon
    Tonal functions cartoon. Picture: Tone Deaf Comics
  4. Chord inversions as snowmen

    Another moment of illustrative inspiration from Classic Jenny: chords, cadences and inversions, described by sizes and shapes of snowmen.

  5. What are accidentals?

    Some fancy penmanship to teach you all about accidentals in music. All in video form from amazing visual educators at Odd Quartet.

    Accidentals, the basics - Music Theory Crash Course

  6. Rondos from don’t shoot the pianist

    The same, but for the Sonata-Rondo form that is often found in the final movement of a sonata or concerto. Clever huh?


    Posted by don't shoot the pianist on Monday, 30 January 2017