#1
If you gain mastery (or near mastery) of the guitar in theory and technique, can the guitar be as useful a compositional tool as the piano? I am saying the end product... the consensus is that piano is easier to learn music theory on.

Currently I am contemplating taking a multi-instrumental route or just focusing on the guitar, eventually using MIDI technology, fingerpicking techniques, and tapping to play piano and drum parts. I am hoping that fingerpicking, though using the nails more than the meat of the fingers, will help me pick up the bass more easily (minus slapping).

I know it's probably worse to dabble in all instruments instead of focusing on one but I would still like to know if mastering the guitar will allow me to compose for all the typical instruments in a band: bass, keyboards, drums. I mainly play metal but would be hoping to add classical/electronic sounds as well.
#2
I use guitar pro for all my compositions, and though my theory is quite lacking I'm usually able to write for any instrument whether or not it uses tabs. That's me anyways.
#3
Depends on musical choice overall i guess.

I mean it can be done, but honestly i've been playing guitar 4 years or so, piano more recently - although i played sporadically for maybe a year before a few weeks when i got a new piano.

Personally, i change when on the piano as opposed to guitar - something different comes out when i'm on the piano as opposed to the piano, it's not better or worse - just different.

Like, i'm more classical on the piano than the guitar, i don't know why it just comes out that way.

Don't cut yourself short i'd say, piano and guitar don't go hand in hand - but it's because of that - that they do.

Piano is a simple setup, i've got the Behringer UMX610 and frankly it's amazing with Native Instruments and Cubase. It will be easier using the MIDI keyboard for drums and various other stuff - and probably alot cheaper. I use Cubase for both electronic and Classical piano sounds (hard piano) with ofcourse, the help of a bay full of pirates.

Some people have the ability to use all instruments instinctively, and personally i feel i'm one of them - and i have wrote songs that contain all the elements, bass, drums, keyboard, guitar and so on. It's not about the instrument it's about the sound it creates.

I'd honestly suggest getting a MIDI keyboard (the UMX610 is great value and pretty amazing - although it does need some breaking in for the keys to lose their initial stiffness. And when combined with Cubase/Native instruments it's a god send in price saving) doing all the stuff you can't do on the guitar with the keyboard.
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#4
Quote by G.9
If you gain mastery (or near mastery) of the guitar in theory and technique, can the guitar be as useful a compositional tool as the piano?
No.

The piano has more benefits as an instrument (easier harmonies) and has a much greater range. Also, things like polyphony, as in voiceleading or countermelodies, are pretty hard on the guitar but pretty easy on the piano.
Quote by G.9
I am saying the end product... the consensus is that piano is easier to learn music theory on.
Theory is the same, whether you learn it on guitar or if you learn it on piano. There's no "guitar" theory and there's no "piano" theory.
Quote by G.9
eventually using MIDI technology
This is a very good idea. Computers can play things that are simply impossible to play on the piano.
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#5
I think he's more going for the spectacle of it all being on guitar, which it would be - whilst impractical and a massive source of time consumption.
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#6
I've bene playing guitar nearly 4 years and piano just over 1, i find it much easier sort out harmonies on piano although i am a bit better at making up melodies on guitar.
#7
Quote by demonofthenight
No.

The piano has more benefits as an instrument (easier harmonies) and has a much greater range. Also, things like polyphony, as in voiceleading or countermelodies, are pretty hard on the guitar but pretty easy on the piano.Theory is the same, whether you learn it on guitar or if you learn it on piano. There's no "guitar" theory and there's no "piano" theory.This is a very good idea. Computers can play things that are simply impossible to play on the piano.


while this is true i think each instrument has its own pros and cons. i often find myself transcribing guitar lines to piano and vice versa, although its generally easier for me to work out a piece how i hear it in my head on the piano

also midi is awesome, when using it to make "realistic" pieces take care to edit the velocity and instrument dynamics to make sure it has a realistic feel. if you can set the notes to trigger slightly off beat ( +/- up to 6-8 ms) it gives it a feel that makes it sound quite human as even when we play to metronomes we're rarely DEAD on.
#8
My main instrument being guitar and having written orchestras and arranged songs from piano to orchestra, I can safely tell you it's not as easy at all to go from guitar to orchestra, whereas on piano it is.

There are just things you can't do on guitar that you can on piano. For instance (as demonofthenight pointed out) voiceleading, and counterpoint. What about an extremely low bass line and an extremely high melody? Now, I've seen it done, I would just imagine it's VERY hard to master.

You can write very big complex things on guitar, you just have to develop your ear enough to be able to hear a chord that you're not playing on top of the chord you are playing. Or imagine the different voices on the chord being played by separate instruments.
Last edited by DiminishedFifth at Aug 2, 2010,
#9
I see. From what I hear, the most practical and powerful setup would be a guitar/keyboard combo.

Sorry for the brevity of the response; I have taken all points into mind. Thanks all!
#10
Quote by G.9
If you gain mastery (or near mastery) of the guitar in theory and technique, can the guitar be as useful a compositional tool as the piano? I am saying the end product... the consensus is that piano is easier to learn music theory on.


Yes., if can be just as useful..IF you're writing for guitar's or basses...

The multi-instrument route is a good idea anyway. It's like learning many languages- each one helps you to think in a slightly different way about things. The same thing is true with instruments- each one you learn will give you a new perspective on music.

Piano/keyboard is a great tool for composition, but what's even better is being able to play the instruments you're writing for and/or hearing what you want them to play in your head.

You can really write a melody on any instrument, right? ...and play chords on most! You don't need to play that really low bassline in it's original octave, you can move it up to something playable (same with that really high melody line moving down). The only thing a piano really has as an advantage is it's range, and it's ability to play counterpoint with ease...but then the guitar has the ability to play pitch bends and harmonics...

So what I'm suggesting is: the multi-instrument route is the way forward. Sticking to one instrument will help you become really good on that one, but it's not always best for composition purposes (unless you're composing for that one instrument).
#11
Quote by G.9
I know it's probably worse to dabble in all instruments instead of focusing on one but I would still like to know if mastering the guitar will allow me to compose for all the typical instruments in a band: bass, keyboards, drums. I mainly play metal but would be hoping to add classical/electronic sounds as well.
The answer to this question is no.

Mastering guitar will allow you to write very well for guitar. It should also improve your musicianship, which will help with composing in general which will affect composing for all instruments. However, simply mastering guitar will not mean you will be able to write well for every instrument in a band.

The best way to learn to write for an instrument is to learn to play that instrument. Through this, you will learn the capabilities of the instrument and how the instrument fits into the music. For example, even though bass and guitar and very similar, a guitarist might write a bass part that is fine on guitar but very hard on bass due to the difference in fret size and thickness of string. If this guitarist learnt to play bass, he would be able to recognise the difficulty. Also, simply learning lots of basslines would give the guitarist a better idea of how the bass connects with both the drummer and the rhythm guitarist in a band. So learning bass would allow the write better bass lines. This is why in many bands there is one main songwriter but each member writes most of their own parts.

Although, IMO, learning the instrument is the best way to learn to write for it, this is not always practical. Orchestral composers are unlikely to be able to play all the instruments in an orchestra to a high degree, for example, because there are so many of them. However, these composers can write well for each instrument because they have detailed knowledge of all the instruments. They know the standard ranges of all the instruments, they know the techniques that are unique to each instruments and the physical limitations of even the best performers. They also know how all the instruments in the orchestra fit together.

So if you cannot learn every instrument you are writing for, you have a few options. You could consult someone who does play that instrument on how you could change it to make it more natural. For a string instrument, this could be as simple as putting in some slurs to make downbows fall on strong beats, so it doesn't have to be large changes to the music. You could also just learn a lot about all the instrument. I found that just sitting down and learning a couple of basic drum beats greatly increased my ability to write natural and fitting, albeit slightly dull, drum beats.
#12
Quote by G.9
If you gain mastery (or near mastery) of the guitar in theory and technique, can the guitar be as useful a compositional tool as the piano?.


yes, the guitar can be very useful as a compositional tool.
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Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 3, 2010,