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alexb_vss 12-08-2012 04:04 AM

Best Way To Learn About Music?
I have played guitar for a couple of years but I would only consider myself in the beginner stage. I only learn a few songs here and there and don't really produce any music of my own. I would like this to change and learn how to read music and also learn many of the different chords, scales, etc.

My question basically is what is the best way to learn music theory (i do plan on taking a guitar class to help me with reading the notes and understanding timing, etc.) and are there any books that may help me with my adventure into music haha

P.S. sorry if I post in the wrong field, or if what I want to learn isn't what I'm calling it, I'm only learning! :(

Shornifier 12-08-2012 07:00 AM

Take a class; find a tutor! That's how I got into music school. I don't recommend teaching yourself though, it's a really grueling subject. Some people are into it, but I fell asleep so many times haha.

alexb_vss 12-08-2012 01:41 PM

Alright cool I think that's the way I'm going to go, thanks a lot!

Shornifier 12-09-2012 10:25 AM

Originally Posted by alexb_vss
Alright cool I think that's the way I'm going to go, thanks a lot!

No problemo dude; theory is funky hard but it really does help your understanding of music. You start to see what you're actually doing instead of just doing it! Pretty cool.

Hail 12-09-2012 11:09 AM

learn lots of music by ear.

all the basic stuff you'd want to cover - intervals, keys vs. scales, arpeggios - all play a huge role, but learn them as you go rather than just throwing raw academia at a wall. a tutor will, hopefully, do this for you, and pace it based on your needs, abilities, and goals, but it's important to independently search for things that might confuse you or might be incorrect (or, at least, are based heavily on opinion due to certain biases from, say, a teacher, article writer, or theory professor).

having a good ear, though, by constantly working towards learning music in a musical context (rather than just playing etudes, or matching up tabs vaguely with a song from a band somebody on the internet told you was good) allows you to embrace the full spectrum of music - rhythmically, dynamically, pragmatically, and in real-time. tabs (and even sheet music) can be misleading - the only way to be able to get a song to a point where you completely know it, and therefore can start to break it down to understand, is by going by ear with some common sense, a lot of patience, and a constantly growing sense of knowing what's going on at a given point and why.

you can learn bits and pieces as you go and constantly learn, adapt, and change opinions and ideas without having to work through a textbook and be able to define everything there because knowing your way around the basics of music - as music, not as scale shapes, or as numbers on the fretboard - is mostly common sense. you'll need some starting points - having a good work ethic and practice habit with a metronome; having a basic knowledge of the major scale and understanding, from there, what a key, an accidental, and an interval of music is; and having a good ear, which comes from learning music without outside sources as much as possible so you can squeeze out all the information possible.

whenever you learn a song, early on, it just seems like numbers and hurt fingers and weird rhythms, and it might help you to be able to read basic sheet music as a start (to break down time signatures, key signatures, tempo, etc. - i don't know just how much of a beginner you are), but with an ear that can recognize all of those things, even if you need your instrument with you to make use of it for a while, you'll start noticing patterns. techniques, sounds, progressions (or certain conventions in progressions) all start making sense in your head. whether or not you can write an essay explaining the process might be a different story, but people overhype this whole "theory" thing like there's a huge rulebook that we're secretly handed out one day to knock on peoples' doors to spread the word of bach and act better than everybody.

99% of theory comes from being able to translate the basics, alongside a good ear, to understand how notes, rhythms, accents, timbres interact. most of the time, this is as simple as 'the clarinet clashes with the trombone' here, or something a little more complex but purely stating the obvious like 'they group is playing softly in the verse so the chorus is a lot "stronger" and there's more of a pull into the music, and since it's structured where the chorus repeats at the end, it uses that contrast to make the chorus really full and big so when it repeats you feel satisfied and get a lot of energy'.

it all comes with time, experience, and, as i can't emphasize it enough, a strong ear. no academia in the world will help you with music if you can't use your ear to take inspiration and make it into reality, or to be able to take music you enjoy and learn it to a point where you can take the experience to put towards developing your own sound, paving your own path, paying homage to your influences, and (in my experience) finding completely new music that will push your comfort zone further.

just remember, however you decide to learn, that theory is descriptive rather than prescriptive, and occam's razor will typically hold true. you learn about music so you can understand it, create it, and appreciate it, and a huge chunk of those abilities come from not only being able to wrap your head around the contexts in the textbook, but also taking those ideas and applying it to things you pick up as you go, learning music and refining your ability to use the music not just as something fun to play, but as something to dissect and perpetually grow as a musician and as a listener, and that's what matters.

johnyere 12-09-2012 10:29 PM

find a good guitar teacher and tell him what your goals are.

a good teacher would be able to help you out.

Aminor251 12-10-2012 03:23 PM

Go to, he has a link to his YouTube page where he has lots of useful information.

j-mac71 12-10-2012 03:41 PM

a great way (thats really easy) to start making sounds that are "your own" is by learning the pentatonic scale, throwing on a 12 bar blues jam, and spending time learning the ins and outs of the fretboard. once you learn how to manipulate between E pentatonic minor (I), A pent. minor (IV), and B pent. minor (V) youll see that its not too hard to play melodies over chords.

just a simple suggestion that wont force you to get into intense theory just yet. if youre really ambitious find a theory tutor or guitar teacher that took music in university.

alexb_vss 12-13-2012 02:47 AM

thanks for everything guys i appreciate everyone's advice! :)

Mister A.J. 12-13-2012 09:49 PM

Originally Posted by Aminor251
Go to, he has a link to his YouTube page where he has lots of useful information.

Do you know why? 'Cause Hertzog's awesome. :D

But seriously, go to Hertzog's site. Or this one.

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