#1
(I don't know if this is the right forum or not, so if it isn't, just direct me to where this thread should go)

I'm sick of having all these awesome riffs and whatever in my head, and not knowing how to build on them to form a song. I can't take Music theory in school until next September, so I was wondering if there are any good websites or books that can really help me teach myself theory. Not just the basics, I mean REALLY learn it, so I can know how to apply it to every kind of style by the time I get into University in 3 & 1/2 more years. I want to really progress as a musician, so I can write some good original songs depending on the mood I'm in, and I want to be one of those guys at Uni who everyone wants in their band because he knows how to play and write anything you want him to. Suggestions please?

Also, any tips on how to approach learning theory are appreciated as well.
#4
learn what a scale actually IS, and then learn the E minor pentatonic all the way up and down the fret board, learn some licks for it, move to A, and learn every key of minor pentatonic.

EDIT:
afterwards, move onto major, and go wherever you want from there.
#5
Get really drunk. Even if you're playing it wrong, it'll sound good!
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#6
Easiest to understand is probably The Idiot's Guide to Music Theory. Not as in-depth as most college Music Theory textbooks, but would probably be better for teaching yourself.
#7
Easy: you ask me.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#8
Quote by heartagram_ben
http://www.musictheory.net/ best site for learning

this.

also, this thread can probably answer a little more than we could.
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#9
First, you must acquire perfect pitch. ****-face can show you how to do this.

But in all seriousness, musictheory.net is the way to go.
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#10
Quote by heartagram_ben
http://www.musictheory.net/ best site for learning



Lol I thought that was gonna be a google hyperlink.
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#11
Quote by heartagram_ben
http://www.musictheory.net/ best site for learning

This is actually a really good site. I'm learning stuff I never understood before.

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this.

also, this thread can probably answer a little more than we could.
This is good too.
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Last edited by LazyLatinoRocke at Feb 1, 2009,
#12
Well I go to a guitar tutor every Tuesday, but I've also been using

The Jazz Theory Book - Mark Levine

Although it is based around jazz music, it is applicable to all music and its an amazing book. Quite pricey, set me back about £30 - £35 I think, but definately worth every penny. Can't reccommend it enough.
#13
Quote by LazyLatinoRocke
This is actually a really good site. I'm learning stuff I never understood before.


This website is good,

however I am a beginner and they are teaching things based off a piano. How the hell am I supposed to be able to learn that while I have to transition it to a guitar at the same time? Very confusing, why can't someone make a straight forward lesson.
Any spelling or grammatical errors written above are because of my inferior brain to yours. Good job, you won life.
#14
Quote by ScottElwood
This website is good,

however I am a beginner and they are teaching things based off a piano. How the hell am I supposed to be able to learn that while I have to transition it to a guitar at the same time? Very confusing, why can't someone make a straight forward lesson.


Can you not read music?
If you can't, there's your problem.
If you can, you're an idiot.
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#15
don't. Take classes.
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#16
Quote by Rickjames730
Can you not read music?
If you can't, there's your problem.
If you can, you're an idiot.

I think this is a massive problem with learning theory; the egos involved.

Alo of the times from tutors also. I've seen the theory and harmony teacher at collage humiliate many people when they can't do/don't get things quite as quick as other people might.
#17
Quote by Nilpferdkoenig
Get off UG.
We are all tab monkeys.


bull. shit.

TS- get the workbooks for the ABRSM music theory grades. They explain everything, and they're pretty easy to learn with. Just work your way up through the books.
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#18
Quote by rabidguitarist
bull. shit.

TS- get the workbooks for the ABRSM music theory grades. They explain everything, and they're pretty easy to learn with. Just work your way up through the books.
This is what I've been doing. They're good books. Quite cheap too.
#19
What I did that helped me the most was: learn how to construct a major scale. Then spend hours (I did during boring classes) just writing/figuring out each scale over and over. After I got good at that I memorized the Circle of Fifths. See, you don't actually have to have them memorized, you just need to be able to figure them out. After writing out the Circle of Fifths a lot, I now have memorized every single key signature, and from there I could figure out every minor key signature or even every mode. Also memorizing every basic triad chord really helps. If you know A major= A C# E then you would know A minor would lower the third, A C E, diminished would be A C Eb, and so on. That would give you a hell of a strong foundation for when you pick up a theory book.

tl;dr version - memorize key signatures, circle of fifths, and chord triads. After that, pick up a theory book and it will be very easy to understand
#20
Quote by shatsbasoon
What I did that helped me the most was: learn how to construct a major scale. Then spend hours (I did during boring classes) just writing/figuring out each scale over and over. After I got good at that I memorized the Circle of Fifths. See, you don't actually have to have them memorized, you just need to be able to figure them out. After writing out the Circle of Fifths a lot, I now have memorized every single key signature, and from there I could figure out every minor key signature or even every mode. Also memorizing every basic triad chord really helps. If you know A major= A C# E then you would know A minor would lower the third, A C E, diminished would be A C Eb, and so on. That would give you a hell of a strong foundation for when you pick up a theory book.

tl;dr version - memorize key signatures, circle of fifths, and chord triads. After that, pick up a theory book and it will be very easy to understand


That's the wrong way to do it.

You don't need to memorise every triad and sig, you just need to know the rules that allow you to sit down and know what it is in a flash.
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#21
Quote by Volvic
I think this is a massive problem with learning theory; the egos involved.

Alo of the times from tutors also. I've seen the theory and harmony teacher at collage humiliate many people when they can't do/don't get things quite as quick as other people might.


I like you.

Why should I need to know how to read sheet music?

Honestly, reading tabs is really fast for me. I look at it, it says fret 9, and I can instantly find it on the guitar. I don't see how sheet music could have any advantage.
Any spelling or grammatical errors written above are because of my inferior brain to yours. Good job, you won life.
#22
Quote by ScottElwood
I like you.

Why should I need to know how to read sheet music?

Honestly, reading tabs is really fast for me. I look at it, it says fret 9, and I can instantly find it on the guitar. I don't see how sheet music could have any advantage.
It helps with transposition of instruments and if you were to do session stuff you're expected to be able to play from sheet music instantly.
#23
Quote by ScottElwood
I like you.

Why should I need to know how to read sheet music?

Honestly, reading tabs is really fast for me. I look at it, it says fret 9, and I can instantly find it on the guitar. I don't see how sheet music could have any advantage.

Well to be honest, the casual guitar player does not need to know how to read music or even much theory. But anyone who wishes to gain more insight on music or want to play at even a semi-professional level needs to learn notation. It is the language of music. Tabs are just numbers.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#24
Quote by rabidguitarist
That's the wrong way to do it.

You don't need to memorise every triad and sig, you just need to know the rules that allow you to sit down and know what it is in a flash.



That is probably why I said "See, you don't actually have to have them memorized, you just need to be able to figure them out."

/facepalm
#25
Quote by ScottElwood
I like you.

Why should I need to know how to read sheet music?

Honestly, reading tabs is really fast for me. I look at it, it says fret 9, and I can instantly find it on the guitar. I don't see how sheet music could have any advantage.


Because tab gives you hardly anything. You have to be able to listen to the music to play from tabs, and even then, you aren't going to be able to play anywhere near correctly with the information it gives you.

Tabs are for idiots, and that's a fact. Ever wondered why you never see orchestras using tabs?
VENUSIAN
FB SC BC TW
Patterns In The Ivy present ethnicity on an intriguing and dedicated level. ~Ambient Exotica
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#26
Quote by ScottElwood
I like you.

Why should I need to know how to read sheet music?

Honestly, reading tabs is really fast for me. I look at it, it says fret 9, and I can instantly find it on the guitar. I don't see how sheet music could have any advantage.


Anybody, ANYBODY, can read tabs.

It may take a while to read how to learn music fluently, but really it can take you like an hour to learn the basics of it and start from there.

Besides, once you can read music fluently (sightreading), it's faster that way than with tabs.

Also, I agree with whoever said most of UG are tab monkeys.
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#27
I do think it is important to learn music. Music is our language, and you all took the time to learn English. And lets be honest, we all know which one sounds nicer

It's not all that hard once you get of the ground with it. It can be intimidating, but it is all pretty straightforward and obvious once you get into it.

On the topic of learning to read music, I do think its important but not nessecary. One of my best friends who I jam with alot isn't even too quick with calling off open string names, and hes a good player!
I can't read a bass clef too well, but being able to read helps alot when it comes to thinks liek arranging, and any semi-professional situation you find yourself in. It is also alot quicker to get your music accross to people when you're speaking and reading the same language.


EDIT: Tabs are not useless. I still use tabs. Notation is not always easily available (not for free anyway).
Tabs can be quick if you can't figure out a melody or something. Look at the tab to get the rough idea down, then you should just pick up the rest listening to and playing along with the song. It can speed thigns up abit sometimes.
Last edited by Volvic at Feb 1, 2009,
#28
Quote by rabidguitarist
Tabs are for idiots, and that's a fact. Ever wondered why you never see orchestras using tabs?


So I am confused.

I'll give you my situation, I have been playing guitar for a little over a year now. I can play several songs and I am just working on playing some faster solos, like reptilia.

I can't read sheet music, I don't know any theory, and I know like one scale but I don't even know the name of it.

Where is the best place to start? There are some lessons out there, like musictheory.net, that rely on sheet music to start learning. There are some lessons on UG that completely bypass sheet music and just get right into the theory. I also, like the TS, can not understand something unless a reason is provided.

For instance, one question I have is who the **** named the notes.

Why didn't they name it "A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K... etc" instead of having sharps and flats? And why are some intervals a whole step and some a half step? And why would anyone write a note "A##" when they could just write B or whatever?
Any spelling or grammatical errors written above are because of my inferior brain to yours. Good job, you won life.
#29
Quote by ScottElwood

Why didn't they name it "A,B,C,D,E,F,G,H,I,J,K... etc" instead of having sharps and flats?
Because that would make it really hard to keep track of the notes. If you have C# for example, you know that it's just a half-step above C. If D was C#, you would have to think about this note independently. That would be inefficient.

And why are some intervals a whole step and some a half step?
The distance of 2 frets (for example, 1st fret to 3rd fret) is a whole-step and the distance of 1 fret (1st fret to 2nd fret) is a half-step. Play the two examples and your ears will hear the difference.

And why would anyone write a note "A##" when they could just write B or whatever?
This is not easy to explain if you don't know how to read notation. It has to do with the "tonality of the moment" when you are playing a passage of music.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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Last edited by Xiaoxi at Feb 1, 2009,
#30
Quote by Pat_s1t
I'm sick of having all these awesome riffs and whatever in my head, and not knowing how to build on them to form a song..


Music theory will not help you form seperate riffs into coherent songs. Unless you're going to use Bach harmony in your songs (I doubt there's a lot of bands that consciously sit down and decide on cadence points) it's probably not worth your time. Unless you're playing solo acoustic stuff that's mildly complicated I personally can't see the effect. I'm very much into riff based stuff myself, and I've never applied 6 years of music theory to any guitar song I've ever written. Obviously I use my knowledge of key signatures, and unless I'm basing a riff around a chord sequence, I've never personally used it.

Quote by ScottElwood
Honestly, reading tabs is really fast for me. I look at it, it says fret 9, and I can instantly find it on the guitar. I don't see how sheet music could have any advantage.


You're kidding right? Unless you're using Power Tab or Guitar Pro tabs are nigh on useless without the track.

I HATE reading guitar solos off them, it's stupidly impossible
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Last edited by con job at Feb 1, 2009,
#31
Is there a music theory site with homework suggestions?

I have found it hard that, with all the information these websites give you, they never institute a plan of study. They just say here it is, learn it at your own pace. I would like to know what I should concentrate on at first, and at what points I should advance at.
Any spelling or grammatical errors written above are because of my inferior brain to yours. Good job, you won life.
#32
Quote by con job
Music theory will not help you form seperate riffs into coherent songs. Unless you're going to use Bach harmony in your songs (I doubt there's a lot of bands that consciously sit down and decide on cadence points) it's probably not worth your time. Unless you're playing solo acoustic stuff that's mildly complicated I personally can't see the effect. I'm very much into riff based stuff myself, and I've never applied 6 years of music theory to any guitar song I've ever written. Obviously I use my knowledge of key signatures, and unless I'm basing a riff around a chord sequence, I've never personally used it.


You're kidding right? Unless you're using Power Tab or Guitar Pro tabs are nigh on useless without the track.

I HATE reading guitar solos off them, it's stupidly impossible


What I do is I memorize the music and then I repeat what I hear.

I have no problem in memorizing a solo, in fact pretty much every song I listen to more than 20 times I have memorized the solo for, just by listening to it. I really don't find it hard at all.
Any spelling or grammatical errors written above are because of my inferior brain to yours. Good job, you won life.
#33
Quote by ScottElwood
What I do is I memorize the music and then I repeat what I hear.

I have no problem in memorizing a solo, in fact pretty much every song I listen to more than 20 times I have memorized the solo for, just by listening to it. I really don't find it hard at all.


Fair enough, different strokes for different folks. I just hate trying to figure out which semiquaver that 15th fret on the third string is when reading a basic tab. I don't have the patience for it
What have we learned.....

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.....from this wee exercise?
#34
Well learn a major scale from tab then. Start with C Major. No sharps or flats. BUT say the note then play the note, this will help in learning the fretboard.

The major scale is the basis of all western music theory. When you see a chord chart and it says Cmaj7, this means you play C major (C E G), then the seventh note up from C. Count on your hands, including the first note, and you will find this is B. So Cmaj7 contains C E G B.

Also, when you look at how to construct minor scales and what not, and it will say things like "flatten the 3rd and 6th scale degrees", this means exactly what it says. And this will give you a harmonic minor scale.
So if C major went:

C D E F G A B

Harmonic minor would go (flat 3 and 6)

C D Eb F G Ab B

Theres are lots of intimidating names for scales and chords, but its really only a few notes.

Anyways this isn't the time or the place, but my advise to start out would be learning the fretboard and major scales. Don't beat yourself up about it, as it can be a lengthy process, but the hardest part is the first part. Remember that.
Last edited by Volvic at Feb 1, 2009,
#35
Quote by rabidguitarist
Because tab gives you hardly anything. You have to be able to listen to the music to play from tabs, and even then, you aren't going to be able to play anywhere near correctly with the information it gives you.

Tabs are for idiots, and that's a fact. Ever wondered why you never see orchestras using tabs?


this is so close-minded its ridiculous. You dont need to listen to the music for tabs, because real tabs include the rhythm and all that timing stuff that would be in standard notation. Its simply easier for guitarists but does not translate to any other instrument, unfortunately. Honestly, this is just an asshole answer. If tabs are easier for you to use, and you never find yourself needing notation (ex, never in an orchestra) dont worry about learning it so fast.

learn intervals, then major scale + circle of fifths. Notation is important, dont get me wrong, and you'll need it if your taking a class next fall.


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#36
Rereading your post TS, considering you're going to take music theory in September, I would say just get a good grasp on key signatures, how to build major/minor scales, reading notation (even if you read it slowly), circle of fifths, intervals. This is basically all I knew when I took my first Music Theory class and it was pretty obvious that I was a lot further ahead than most of the other students. Knowing these basic things made it so that the class was actually a breeze, nothing went over my head so I was able to really understand all of the concepts fully.

If you find that you don't have "homework assignments" to reinforce the studying, try making your own. Just get a blank sheet of staff paper and write out random notes and go through identifying them, or you could try constructing a major scale then double checking if you got the notes correct, etc.
#37
I strictly use GP because plain old guitar tabs doen't tell you time signatures. I learned a little something about time signatures through GP and was able to write some original riffs. I want to know more