#1
I've been playing guitar for about 3 years now. I also have a slight background in piano, though I woudn't say I'm any good yet since I've only done it for about six years. I started teaching myself basic music theory about one or two years after I started doing piano, I already know about intervals, chords, progressions, the circle of fifths, scales (major, minors harmonic, natural and melodic), stuff like that. I play instruments and practice on them so that I can write better music (I write indie-acoustic-alternative rock stuff) so normally when I learn theory I just pick out the essential stuff that will assist me first when it comes to songwriting, like chords and which ones will sound great together. But now it's been quite a while and I feel that I need to step out a little bit and learn something slightly more complex. The problem is, I don't know where to start! So other than the things I already mentioned, what other aspects of music theory should I learn?
#2
parallel major/minors and their uses?
three chord trick?
inversions?
counter melodys?
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#3
Modes, if you didn't get to that already. And how they're applied, like phrygian dominant in heavy metal.
#4
Quote by pwrmax
Modes, if you didn't get to that already. And how they're applied, like phrygian dominant in heavy metal.


Is this actually useful? I've read a little about it and didn't think I would one day use it unless I'm trying to write a complex solo or something...
#5
Quote by xxemo_kittyxx
Is this actually useful? I've read a little about it and didn't think I would one day use it unless I'm trying to write a complex solo or something...


For the kind of music you write.. probably not. You'd probably never write something modal, so their only use would be for borrowing tones. You can learn about them anyway. Can't hurt. Just don't get too worried if you don't understand.

How much do you know about chord progressions?
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#6
Quote by Eastwinn

How much do you know about chord progressions?


I know how to use the nashville number system. I don't memorize all the common progressions because as your ear gets used to hearing and playing music you'll know what goes great with what. I also know about cadences a little.
#7
Quote by xxemo_kittyxx
I know how to use the nashville number system. I don't memorize all the common progressions because as your ear gets used to hearing and playing music you'll know what goes great with what. I also know about cadences a little.


Things are done a bit differently than the Nashville Number System, both around here and traditionally. We use Roman Numeral Analysis instead. It's basically the same thing, except with roman numerals. The first chord in a scale is I, the next is II, then III, then IV then so on. However, there's a trick that makes this system a bit more convenient: if the roman numerals are capital then it's a major chord, if they are lower case then they are minor. Similarly, you can append a prefix on the end like V7 or IImaj7. Diminished triads are denoted with a degree symbol, but you'll see it as a * on the forums. So, for example, the basic diatonic triads in the major scale would be written as I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii*. Did you already know that pattern -- major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished? And the same pattern for the minor scale? If not, then I think you should definitely read the Crusade Columns: http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/search.php?s=crusade&w=columns . Start on part 1, just to make sure you're clear on everything.

I think that should keep for a while
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#8
my take on musical knowledge is that its better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. that goes with pretty much everything. im learning how to sweep pick, i dont know if i'll ever use it but if i want to then i can. same goes for musical knowledge, wouldn't it be nice to see a 3 chord progression and instantly know "the last chord is going to be D minor"
#9
First off, theory isn't exactly used to write music. It's more of a descriptive system used to talk about music. You can then use this theory to understand advanced musical conventions (ideas in writing music) or even pick out some conventions in other peoples music, through analysis. The more songs you analyse, the more you will learn.

Then, when you feel you're experienced enough, you should look for some classical counterpoint books. My advice is that you borrow and buy as many as possible and then just read the first one or two chapters, which will (usually) be devoted to writing a single lined melody.
After you've learnt to write a single lined melody, read the rest of the book and learn counterpoint.

And write a lot of music. The greatest teacher in life is life itself, you will learn the most through experience.
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Last edited by demonofthenight at Jul 19, 2009,
#10
Quote by Eastwinn
Things are done a bit differently than the Nashville Number System, both around here and traditionally. We use Roman Numeral Analysis instead. It's basically the same thing, except with roman numerals. The first chord in a scale is I, the next is II, then III, then IV then so on. However, there's a trick that makes this system a bit more convenient: if the roman numerals are capital then it's a major chord, if they are lower case then they are minor. Similarly, you can append a prefix on the end like V7 or IImaj7. Diminished triads are denoted with a degree symbol, but you'll see it as a * on the forums. So, for example, the basic diatonic triads in the major scale would be written as I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii*. Did you already know that pattern -- major, minor, minor, major, major, minor, diminished? And the same pattern for the minor scale? If not, then I think you should definitely read the Crusade Columns: http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/search.php?s=crusade&w=columns . Start on part 1, just to make sure you're clear on everything.

I think that should keep for a while


Thanks, those columns are great and should keep me busy for the time being.
#11
First off, theory isn't exactly used to write music.


That's...odd. That would certainly come as a surprise to most composers, especially ones who utilize concepts like musical set theory, serialism, and polymodal chromaticism, and that's only drawing from post-tonal music. I'd be hard pressed to name a single tonal composer who doesn't draw upon their knowledge of functional harmony when constructing their music.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#12
^ arch, remember all those times you said theory is descriptive and not prescriptive? i think thats what they're getting at.
#13
Quote by z4twenny
^ arch, remember all those times you said theory is descriptive and not prescriptive? i think thats what they're getting at.


But a fair number of techniques that fall under the realm of music theory are prescriptive. The problem is that many people falsely believe that music theory somehow eliminates the ability to make choices concerning their music, and about whether or not to use those techniques. Regardless, I really don't see how "theory is prescriptive" is the same as claiming that music theory isn't used to write music, which is demonstratably false and completely ridiculous.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#14
Quote by Archeo Avis
But a fair number of techniques that fall under the realm of music theory are prescriptive.

meh, i'd say counterpoint, writing in 4 part, figured bass. these are generally prescriptive yes. but.....
Quote by Archeo Avis

The problem is that many people falsely believe that music theory somehow eliminates the ability to make choices concerning their music, and about whether or not to use those techniques.

exactly, theres choices. its not like the only choice you have when writing music is what counterpoint dictates. it'll probably sound better if you start using some prescriptive guidelines but it can sound equally as awesome without it as well.
Quote by Archeo Avis

Regardless, I really don't see how "theory is prescriptive" is the same as claiming that music theory isn't used to write music, which is demonstratably false and completely ridiculous.

i won't say that theory entirely isn't used while writing, thats inane. but a lot of people don't consciously use theory when writing. i myself only use theory to the degree of "i think the next part would sound good doing this, which is just this and this and this" and then sometimes i map out the individual voice lines and find the pattern in the movement. sometimes i do none of this and just smack the hell outta my guitar and let it scream for a little while (which requires nothing more than bending a string(s) until it sounds right to me
#15
I agree with Archeo. Most theory isn't prescriptive at all, but that doesn't imply that it can't help you write. Prescribe: v. to lay down, in writing or otherwise, as a rule or a course of action to be followed; appoint, ordain, or enjoin. Looking at that definition you will see exactly what a lot of beginners believe. However, to say that the documentation of the descriptive systems and conventions since the Classical Era (and much before then too) can't lead you to the right notes is silly. I'm not accusing you of saying that, z4tweeny, because obviously you are not. I just don't think Archeo was contradicting himself, though I don't speak for him.
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#16
Reread my goddamn post.

What arch is talking about are called musical conventions. Theory can be used to describe the convention, but the convention isn't necessarily "theory."

Arch, you're just itching for an argument.
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#17
^^lulz

Archeo, you are right in a way, but you lack in thinking in a broader perspective.

What your saying is almost the equivalent of saying;

"You write stories by using the dictionary"

While technically your right, but you forget that not all people on this site have the ability to spot things in such a technical way (in your posts or someone else's), or are to young and lack the basic framework to see things from such a perspective.

Be open-minded in the fact that not everyone is open-minded (yet).

It is far more beneficial to bring things in an inspiring way, cause that's the way that most people understand.

It's called social IQ.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Jul 24, 2009,
#18
Quote by demonofthenight
Reread my goddamn post.

What arch is talking about are called musical conventions. Theory can be used to describe the convention, but the convention isn't necessarily "theory."

Arch, you're just itching for an argument.


I am not referring to conventions. Serialism is not a convention, but a method of structuring music. Conventions are commonalities within music.

What your saying is almost the equivalent of saying;

"You write stories by using the dictionary"


No, it's more like saying "people write stories using their knowledge of grammar and word meaning".

but you lack in thinking in a broader perspective.


How is my perspective limited? My argument is both that people use their knowledge of music structure when structuring their own composition, and that there is exist music theoretical concepts with the purpose of structuring music a particular way (this is provably correct, and again I point to serialism).
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
Last edited by Archeo Avis at Jul 24, 2009,
#20
Quote by Archeo Avis
I am not referring to conventions. Serialism is not a convention, but a method of structuring music. Conventions are commonalities within music.


No, it's more like saying "people write stories using their knowledge of grammar and word meaning".


How is my perspective limited? My argument is both that people use their knowledge of music structure when structuring their own composition, and that there is exist music theoretical concepts with the purpose of structuring music a particular way (this is provably correct, and again I point to serialism).



No your perspective on the argument itself is totally valid.

Just imo the approach you take to present it is not the best.

Anyways, to add to the Theory discussion.

"people write stories using their knowledge of grammar and word meaning".


I think we are both right in a way here.

I see 2 kinds of theory in music.

The "Dictionary" type like intervals and chords. These things do not change and is "true theory" in a way.

While music conventions (And methods like you pointed out; Serialism) is the other kind of theory, which exist of using any of the elements in the former in a certain way.

I think that's why opinions on the subject often clash.

The "dictionary" type is totally passive, while the 2nd is already putting the basic in contexts.

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#22
Quote by xxemo_kittyxx
Why is this thread suddenly turning to an argument :s


Because two people had conflicting viewpoints and decided to discuss the issue and offer supporting evidence for said viewpoints. What's the problem?
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