#1
Hey UGers!

I've memorized the majority of the neck (still workin' on it) as well as intervals (easily seen once the neck is memorized) as well as quite a few scale patterns.

Mostly I've been hammering out practice on techniques - bends, rolls, sweeps, etc

But this whole music theory thing is really making me ask myself: What am I missing? How do I put all of this 'stuff' together to actually create something? How does one LEARN music theory? Memorizing the intervals and building chords seems to be it... ?

Example: I'm learning very basic solo'ng, at the slowest speed I can possibly muster - and I find myself asking, why did he use an F there? Why not an E? Why use the F in that octave rather than one lower.... so on and so forth.

I guess it's hard to nail down where to go next. Memorize more solo's. Goof around with scales over chords until something sounds cool...?

Just hoping there are others who have experienced this, moved through it and can maybe give some tips/guidance.
#2
youre thinking too much. you know scales, you know keys, you know intervals. now start putting those together and make what sounds good to you and ask yourself the same questions youre asking others about their soloing.
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#3
Writing music is one of those things where what you do shouldn't revolve around theory. Don't get me wrong, I think if you're writing that theory is a must but I don't think it should be your main concern. I've written a bunch of songs just for guitar just for the sake of writing songs, keeping theory in mind. But if you want something worthwhile, it's best to play what you're feeling and use theory as a guideline or a double-check to make sure you're not playing a bunch of out of key notes. Anyone can learn something technical and play it to the best of their abilities but only you can make a song with a specific meaning to you.

So my overall suggestion is to write some lyrics or come up with an idea or emotion that you want to portray and use the theory/technical skills you've been working on to convey that emotion to the best of your abilities.
#5
Quote by JChrist521
Writing music is one of those things where what you do shouldn't revolve around theory. Don't get me wrong, I think if you're writing that theory is a must but I don't think it should be your main concern. I've written a bunch of songs just for guitar just for the sake of writing songs, keeping theory in mind. But if you want something worthwhile, it's best to play what you're feeling and use theory as a guideline or a double-check to make sure you're not playing a bunch of out of key notes. Anyone can learn something technical and play it to the best of their abilities but only you can make a song with a specific meaning to you.

So my overall suggestion is to write some lyrics or come up with an idea or emotion that you want to portray and use the theory/technical skills you've been working on to convey that emotion to the best of your abilities.


exactly keep it in mind, if you wanted a particular direction or something is just not right resort to a bit of sit down theory.
#6
yeah man you're thinking way too hard and i can see you may end up frustraing yourself if you keep on
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#7
Quote by Slapknot
Hey UGers!

I've memorized the majority of the neck (still workin' on it) as well as intervals (easily seen once the neck is memorized) as well as quite a few scale patterns.

Mostly I've been hammering out practice on techniques - bends, rolls, sweeps, etc

But this whole music theory thing is really making me ask myself: What am I missing? How do I put all of this 'stuff' together to actually create something? How does one LEARN music theory? Memorizing the intervals and building chords seems to be it... ?

Example: I'm learning very basic solo'ng, at the slowest speed I can possibly muster - and I find myself asking, why did he use an F there? Why not an E? Why use the F in that octave rather than one lower.... so on and so forth.

I guess it's hard to nail down where to go next. Memorize more solo's. Goof around with scales over chords until something sounds cool...?

Just hoping there are others who have experienced this, moved through it and can maybe give some tips/guidance.

Those are the EXACT questions you should be asking yourself, you only gain an understand theory by using and applying it. Of course it's going to be laborious in the early stages but so was learning to play...the more you analyze music in this way the broader a range of knowledge you have to draw on and the easier it becomes to simply "know" things when you hear them as opposed to having to work them out.

Ignore the people saying you're doing too much thinking...this finicky, almost obsessive thinking is part of the process of internalising and comprehending the raw knowledge that's available to you. You do need to really focus on things simply because it's all new to you, just like you had to focus all your energy and concentration on fretting that A chord cleanly in your first week whereas now you can do it without thinking.
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#8
Thanks everyone.

Gotta say, I am sooooooo totally stoked to be a part of this forum. Man. The couple of guys I jam with, mention theory and these things to them and they all say the same thing: ****, I dunno theory...just jam and do what's feels right.

But then... I read the post in this forum: IF YOU COULD GO BACK.
Majority on there talk about how they wish they had learned theory earlier.

Kinda mixed message there....

I'll stick with continuing the obsession. It'll either drive me insane or, just like forming that first G chord - I'll get to the other side and get bettah!
#9
Quote by Martindecorum
also rather than memorizing solos from other bands memorize the techniques not the actual thing itself ull find you will be rewarded in the long run,


This. I've always looked at solos as small exercises. I've never really been interested in learning solos note for note, but often I'll hear a cool lick, then try to do it, and when I realize I can't do it cleanly, I make that little run a part of my practice routine, and learn why that lick goes well with certain chords or why that kind of phrasing sounds good, and then I add it to my repertoire for future use.

It sounds like you're mainly working on lead guitar techniques, so you're mainly just using scales to fit the song. Advanced use of scales usually revolves around changing the scale notes to fit each chord change, instead of just staying in one scale the entire song. You said you know the fretboard notes pretty well, which is a huge advantage. For a dedicated solo, you usually stay in the same scale throughout, because the main focus is now on lead, not rhythm. During the verses, however, you can use knowledge of theory and scales to match the chords that the rhythm guitarist is playing.

My band doesn't play shred at gigs (zomg), so as the lead guitarist, I really think of the phrasing and selection of the notes that I play that will complement the rhythm guitarist. My rhythm guy plays acoustic a lot, and uses all these ridiculous versions of chords that I've never seen anybody else play, so it's important that I know the root notes of the chords. If I tried to match the way he plays the chords I would be lost, but if I know the root notes of all the chords, then I can mess around on that during the verses. The better I got at knowing root notes and what scales sound good with what chords, our stuff sounded a lot better.

Also, you mention practicing sweeps as part of your technique practice. Unless you've mastered alternate picking (16th notes at 140 bpm at least) then you need to forget about doing anything else. I'm not saying that good alternate picking = good sweeping, but great alternate picking will be much more practical and useful than great sweeps.
#10
Quote by steven seagull
Those are the EXACT questions you should be asking yourself, you only gain an understand theory by using and applying it. Of course it's going to be laborious in the early stages but so was learning to play...the more you analyze music in this way the broader a range of knowledge you have to draw on and the easier it becomes to simply "know" things when you hear them as opposed to having to work them out.

Ignore the people saying you're doing too much thinking...this finicky, almost obsessive thinking is part of the process of internalising and comprehending the raw knowledge that's available to you. You do need to really focus on things simply because it's all new to you, just like you had to focus all your energy and concentration on fretting that A chord cleanly in your first week whereas now you can do it without thinking.




You're definitely not over thinking, and most of this stuff is absolutely critical in becoming the best player that you can. Analyzing other peoples work, and trying to work out why what they're doing sounds so good (Or in some cases terrible) is a key element in becoming a good improviser and song writer.

Dissecting solos by guys like David Gilmour, Slash, Satriani, Larry Carlton and so forth really opened a lot of doors as far as my playing/phrasing/improv and composition goes.

As far as putting it together goes, this can be kind of a tricky prospect, and many many people start having troubles with it. The problem is, you've gained enough knowledge to see the overall picture, but not enough to really put it all together and grasp the finer points.

I think the best solution to this is to kind of separate the theory from everything else. Keep learning as much as you can, analyze as much as you can and so forth, and also dedicate a little bit of time to putting what you've learned to practice.

When it comes time to do any compositional stuff or improv, try to put all that information to the back of your mind. Use your ears to tell you what sounds good, and only resort to analyzing what you've done if you're stuck. At some point what's going to happen is all the knowledge you've been acquiring will naturally work it's way into your playing.
#11
all theory really does is show you what rules you can break
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#12
Quote by CrimsonHorn
This. I've always looked at solos as small exercises. I've never really been interested in learning solos note for note, but often I'll hear a cool lick, then try to do it, and when I realize I can't do it cleanly, I make that little run a part of my practice routine, and learn why that lick goes well with certain chords or why that kind of phrasing sounds good, and then I add it to my repertoire for future use.


This is a good idea, you don't really need to learn full solos, but taking licks and phrases and trying to work them into your own music is great too. Also a good idea to take note of the chord that those licks are being played over, and also transposing those licks to a new key.

Another cool thing to do would be to learn to play those various licks at different points on the neck.

Take a standard blues lick like this:

E||---------5----------------||
B||------5-----8--5--8b10----||
G||--7b9---------------------||
D||--------------------------||
A||--------------------------||
E||--------------------------||


Then work out how you can play the same lick in the same octave in different places like this.

E||-------0--5--3--0--3b------|------------------------------|
B||--3g5----------------------|----------10------------------|
G||---------------------------|-------9------12--9--12b------|
D||---------------------------|--12b-------------------------|
A||---------------------------|------------------------------|
E||---------------------------|------------------------------|


   E    E   E   E   E   Q.        
--------------------------------||
--------------------------------||
--------------------------------||
-----------19--17------17b------||
--17s--19----------19-----------||
--------------------------------||


All the same notes, all the same octave at different places. You can then start replacing bends with slides, and so forth, and you'll then gain the ability to play whatever you want, nearly wherever you want.

Advanced use of scales usually revolves around changing the scale notes to fit each chord change, instead of just staying in one scale the entire song. You said you know the fretboard notes pretty well, which is a huge advantage. For a dedicated solo, you usually stay in the same scale throughout, because the main focus is now on lead, not rhythm. During the verses, however, you can use knowledge of theory and scales to match the chords that the rhythm guitarist is playing.


This would be brilliant advice if not for one thing. Unless you're dealing with a very complicated piece of music, you'll almost always be using only one scale for a whole song.

That said despite the scale always being the same, the notes which are strong will vary depending on the backing chord.

Say you're in the key of C, playing a C, F, Em, G progression. For your lead work, you'd be working with the C major scale, which consists of the notes CDEFGAB. Now this scale will never change, but the notes within it that sound strong will.

Now the following are the strong notes to play over each chord. This is the case because of the simple reason that those are the notes that make up that chord.
C = CEG
F = FAC
Em = EGB
G = GBD

Now that doesn't mean that you can't or shouldn't use any of the other notes during those chords, the chord tones are simply the strong notes that you'll want to pause on or emphasize.

Anyway, hopefully I haven't gone too off topic here.