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Old 09-24-2012, 07:09 AM   #1
FirasKordi
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Using Scales to Compose without Theory

hey guys....i know its a noob question but Can I compose a riff or a song (or even entire song) By just learning Scale Positions and messing around ....do it need any level of Learning Music theory to do that....( am tallking about Harmonic minor cuz am into Jeff loomis stuff,,,am not really interested in pentatonics and blues )
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:44 AM   #2
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Yes you can do that, but if you also have a good understanding of music theory it will be an aid to you writing better music.
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Old 09-24-2012, 07:54 AM   #3
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You could, but why would you want to do that? Basically all you will accomplish is learning by trial & error the same knowledge that theory will teach you. It's like hopping in a boat to sail around the world & asking if a map of the Mediterranean will be enough to make it. Why limit yourself?
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:12 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FirasKordi
Can I compose a riff or a song (or even entire song) By just learning Scale Positions and messing around


Yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FirasKordi
....do it need any level of Learning Music theory to do that


No.

It's perfectly possible to write music (and half-decent music) without knowing a thing about music theory.

If you're serious about writing though music theory is a necessity because it:

Saves you time & effort;
Provides you with more options;
Enables you to expand your writing.
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:27 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FirasKordi
hey guys....i know its a noob question but Can I compose a riff or a song (or even entire song) By just learning Scale Positions and messing around ....do it need any level of Learning Music theory to do that....( am tallking about Harmonic minor cuz am into Jeff loomis stuff,,,am not really interested in pentatonics and blues )


Music is not composed using scales, much less scale positions... it is composed with notes. Use your ears
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:39 AM   #6
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because Guys i saw an interview with Jeff loomis , he said he almost dont know much about Theory ....and look wht he freaking composed !! I actually tried learning Theory online (no much musical teachers in my country) and i keep getting stuck in the beggining of Intervals and some info about Major scale
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:49 AM   #7
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Your ears write the music. The theory aids you and widens your options.
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Old 09-24-2012, 11:06 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by FirasKordi
hey guys....i know its a noob question but Can I compose a riff or a song (or even entire song) By just learning Scale Positions and messing around ....do it need any level of Learning Music theory to do that....( am tallking about Harmonic minor cuz am into Jeff loomis stuff,,,am not really interested in pentatonics and blues )


You don't really need to learn theory to write songs, although it helps.

(And learning theory is easy. Seriously).

Of course, "learning scale positions" is learning a bit of theory, too. Scales are one part of theory. Chord construction is another and you'll find that learning chord construction is very useful when you want to write songs.

But here's the thing:

Ultimately, when you compose, there's a place for "messing around" and seeing what your fingers come up with, but it's more important to lead with your mind, not your fingers. You should WANT to hear something before you play it - and often it's better to sit, silently, and try to think of what you want to hear before you go looking for it on the fretboard.
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Old 09-24-2012, 11:06 AM   #9
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this just in: the word "composed" has been redefined as "haphazardly stumbled upon while wanking aimlessly for 6 hours in your bedroom" by the TS in a tablature music theory forum. we've been doing it wrong for all these years!
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Old 09-24-2012, 01:57 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FirasKordi
because Guys i saw an interview with Jeff loomis , he said he almost dont know much about Theory ....and look wht he freaking composed !! I actually tried learning Theory online (no much musical teachers in my country) and i keep getting stuck in the beggining of Intervals and some info about Major scale


So many people misunderstand this. Basically, if this is true, it means that if you spoke to Loomis, and asked them how each instrument fits together, he'd use terms and phrases that a classical musician would probably laugh at. He'd have the right idea, as he's spent years learning theory his own way, so he can get away with it. If you are struggling at Intervals and Major Scales, I'd bet that you're nowhere near the technical skill level required to tackle Nevermore songs, and if you are good enough to play Nevermore cleanly, then learn theory. Imagine if you had a guy with high IQ who wanted to become a doctor, but couldn't be bothered to study a Degree, because he heard about this guy who healed people with magic. Yeah, sounds pretty idiotic, doesn't it? It's exactly the same thing when a person claims to be a musician but doesn't want to learn theory.
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Old 09-24-2012, 02:38 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by CelestialGuitar
He'd have the right idea, as he's spent years learning theory his own way, so he can get away with it.


This is the thing a lot of people don't get when someone famous says that they don't know any theory. A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet Sorry for the Shakespeare reference, but it illustrates my point so well. All musicians know theory, sure it may not be the "official music theory" but just by playing and figuring out how things sound they develop their own form of "theory." Even if it's just, "I play in this position over this chord, cuz it sounds better than playing in other positions." That's their theory of why they do what they do.

Formal music theory is just several centuries' worth of musician's take on what seems to sound good, so why re-invent the wheel when you can just pick up where they left off?

Ignorance is forgivable, but willful ignorance is just contemptible.
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Old 09-24-2012, 04:28 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by J-Dawg158
This is the thing a lot of people don't get when someone famous says that they don't know any theory. A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet Sorry for the Shakespeare reference, but it illustrates my point so well. All musicians know theory, sure it may not be the "official music theory" but just by playing and figuring out how things sound they develop their own form of "theory." Even if it's just, "I play in this position over this chord, cuz it sounds better than playing in other positions." That's their theory of why they do what they do.

Formal music theory is just several centuries' worth of musician's take on what seems to sound good, so why re-invent the wheel when you can just pick up where they left off?

Ignorance is forgivable, but willful ignorance is just contemptible.

This. They know the intervals, they don't know what the notes or intervals or scales are called, but they know how they sound like and how to play them. You don't need to know any names to be able to know how they work. But of course it makes it faster if you know that something is an A major chord or D minor scale or a fifth and not just some random fret and string numbers. But to compose you don't need anything but listen to some music (it's important, you always get inspiration from some other artist's song unless you want to compose that kind of folk music that just automatically comes out of your mouth when you start singing. You know what I mean: simple melodies and two chord harmonies) and hear your own songs in your head.
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Old 09-25-2012, 03:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FirasKordi
hey guys....i know its a noob question but Can I compose a riff or a song (or even entire song) By just learning Scale Positions and messing around ....do it need any level of Learning Music theory to do that....( am tallking about Harmonic minor cuz am into Jeff loomis stuff,,,am not really interested in pentatonics and blues )


Yes you can. If you have fun playing it- thats all that matters.

As for <<insert guitar player of your choice here>> saying they dont know theory- I call shennanigans on them. Of course they do.

What is "knowing theory" anyway?

"I dont know theory" is code for "I want you to think I'm channeling the power of the universe and playing random notes on this album and guess what they are smokin so I must be too! Right? Right???"

Shennanigans I say. And misleading to the fans who read the interviews. And detrimental to the development of beginner players

Shennanigans I say!!

They may not be classically trained pianists who can sight read anything put in front of them.... but I BET they know how to form chords, stick within a key centre, solo in a key etc etc etc.... the list goes on...

Shennanigans I say!!!!!

TS...have fun playing your song if it comes to you..... use it to learn a bit of theory maybe... it will probably help you find the next bit of the song...... but do you absolutely have to know theory? No.
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Old 09-25-2012, 07:38 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FirasKordi
hey guys....i know its a noob question but Can I compose a riff or a song (or even entire song) By just learning Scale Positions and messing around ....do it need any level of Learning Music theory to do that....( am tallking about Harmonic minor cuz am into Jeff loomis stuff,,,am not really interested in pentatonics and blues )


That is what I have done for so long. I have only thought about scale shapes. Why? Because I did not know any better, nor did I REALLY UNDERSTAND music theory , (how to apply it and hear it). All I was ever told was "here is the positions in A minor now you use that to xxxxx do whatever". BIG MISTAKE on my part to follow just that advice because there is much much more to being able to compose than just looking at a pattern of notes.

Some people are just able to learn scales and maybe that is all they know without much theory...it is just not the way everyone can do it. I suggest you do learn theory if you find yourself not getting anywhere.

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Old 09-25-2012, 09:22 AM   #15
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when the time is right you'll dive in. I never put much thought into thinking about learning theory. I just wanted to learn all I could, I hated having to look up chords or scales I thought there outta be a way I could just make my own.

I think its silly to see so many ask should I learn theory? as If you don't know any already. Just calling the strings by there name is enough to accuse you of being a musician.

Did you read the definition of an interval? Its the distance between any given notes, I. E If you call A your root then B is a major second because its 2 frets higher then the A note. So B is a Major second Higher then A. C would be a Flattened 3rd or a sharpen 2nd. And If you play the M2 A octave higher doesnt that make it A add 9 chord? I think it does.
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Old 09-25-2012, 09:36 AM   #16
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Originally Posted by metalmetalhead

Did you read the definition of an interval? Its the distance between any given notes, I. E If you call A your root then B is a major second because its 2 frets higher then the A note. So B is a Major second Higher then A. C would be a Flattened 3rd or a sharpen 2nd. And If you play the M2 A octave higher doesnt that make it A add 9 chord? I think it does.


A natural C in relation to A is a minor third, and never any type of second.
And an add9 chord is a basic triad with the 2nd/9th as extension, without the 7th, doesn't matter in which octave said 2nd/9th is played.
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Old 09-25-2012, 09:58 AM   #17
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well in relation to A what would a sharpened 2nd be?

minor third is?

so If you flatten (b) a major interval it becomes minor. so its safe to say that b3 #2 and Minor 3rd is all the same? I think we made a break through

Im no pro but I have C as my answer in relation to A of course.

thanks for the clarification with the 7 th you have the A9 chord without 7th its An A add9.
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Old 09-25-2012, 11:14 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by metalmetalhead
well in relation to A what would a sharpened 2nd be?

minor third is?


In relation to A a #2 would be a B#. Minor 3rd would be C. They may occupy the same fret physically, but theoretically they are different and it is the context that makes the difference.

Think of it like the definition of a word. A word(the physical fret) can have multiple definitions(whether it's a #2 or a b3), & you can't tell which definition fits til you read it in a sentence(see it in a chord progression.)

eg.

the word read
Is this read as in "I've read that book."
or "I should read this book."

Same word, two different meanings. How would you know which one it really is without context?
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Old 09-25-2012, 12:39 PM   #19
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so what would the frequency difference be between these? B# and C

yea context I do my best, I dont see why it must be diatonic corrected.

can it just be based of the chromatic scale where everything goes?
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Old 09-25-2012, 01:10 PM   #20
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so what would the frequency difference be between these? B# and C

yea context I do my best, I dont see why it must be diatonic corrected.

can it just be based of the chromatic scale where everything goes?


Doesn't matter if there is a frequency difference or not. When you label notes with certain letters that implies a certain interval between the two notes. A - B is always a 2nd, A - C is always a 3rd, A - D is always a fourth, etc. etc. The sharps and flats adjust for the actual semi-tonal difference between the notes.

Why? That's a question of historical signifigance as to why standard music theory is what it is and how it came about, that I don't have the time to go into, but feel free to study on your own.

Edit: Or just PM Sleepy__Head. He's like a walking encyclopedia when it comes to the history of music
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