Today we have the pleasure of talking with Adam Neely, whose YouTube channel is followed by over 600,000 people – and is described as “video essays, lessons and vlogs on new horizons in music and music theory.” More informally, we’d say that Adam makes some of the most solid and also thoroughly entertaining videos on music theory out there – and not the “this is a crotchet”-type music theory videos, he tackles the really odd and interesting questions, like “Why pop music sounds bad to you”, “What is the slowest music humanly possible”, “Why not to use E♭11 chords” and “Which key is the saddest?”

We’ve long been fans and so it was a delight to get to sit down with Adam and learn more about his own musical background, and how he thinks about practicing, audiating, modern composing, and more.

In this conversation we talk about:

  • How distinguishing between “prescriptive” and “descriptive” can totally flip how interesting learning music theory is for you
  • The perspective on keeping practice interesting that for us personally would have been a massive liberation if we could travel back in time and give it to our teenage selves
  • And a cool extension of audiation that goes beyond simply imagining a particular piece in your mind and lets you stretch your ear in interesting, creative ways

Adam also reveals the particular vowel sound you should use when singing for ear training – and a whole lot more. Don’t miss the shownotes for this episode at which will be packed with links to all the videos we mention, so you can go and do a deep dive of Adam’s extensive and fascinating back catalog right after this interview.

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We interview Youtube-based music educator Adam Neely on making music theory interesting, a helpful perspective on practice, and the power of audiation.