#1
Do you think that learning theory has progressed your songwriting?

The only time I can honestly recall using theory while songwriting is if writing parts for other instruments. The majority of what I write on guitar is just from not thinking and playing rather than consciously thinking about it. It's probably worth nothing I only have a really basic knowledge though.

I was curious if there anyone out there who writes from a different approach.
Quote by Kozlic
Music doesnt need to be quality to be good.


Press eject, give me the tape, if you know what's good for you
#2
i don't think it did no. i KNOW it did

but it wasn't just the theory, you can't really just read a book on theory and be a good songwriter. it's all about applying what you learn and learning how theory allows you to think "outside the box" (or a better analogy, is to realize there is no box)

theres still more to it than that though, arrangement, timbre, dynamics, these all make up parts of a song. if you have a great composition and these things are off then it's going to sound pretty terrible.
#3
Quote by z4twenny
i don't think it did no. i KNOW it did

but it wasn't just the theory, you can't really just read a book on theory and be a good songwriter. it's all about applying what you learn and learning how theory allows you to think "outside the box" (or a better analogy, is to realize there is no box)

theres still more to it than that though, arrangement, timbre, dynamics, these all make up parts of a song. if you have a great composition and these things are off then it's going to sound pretty terrible.

This.
Quote by Tone Deaf
Someone has had too much jager in their slushy. :/
Quote by CL/\SH
First person on UG to be a grammar nazi and use the correct form of "your" in the correct context.

+ 70 virgins to you, my good sir.

Quote by Fassa Albrecht
Girls DO fap...I don't though.
#4
Quote by z4twenny
i don't think it did no. i KNOW it did

but it wasn't just the theory, you can't really just read a book on theory and be a good songwriter. it's all about applying what you learn and learning how theory allows you to think "outside the box" (or a better analogy, is to realize there is no box)

theres still more to it than that though, arrangement, timbre, dynamics, these all make up parts of a song. if you have a great composition and these things are off then it's going to sound pretty terrible.

This.
#5
Yes, constantly. Basically, I use a combination of music theory and pitch training to figure out what's playing in my head, which is a heck of a lot easier than picking random notes in whatever editor you're using and hoping they're the right notes.
His death, which happen'd in his berth,
At forty-odd befell:
They went and told the sexton, and
The sexton toll'd the bell
#6
Quote by z4twenny
i don't think it did no. i KNOW it did

but it wasn't just the theory, you can't really just read a book on theory and be a good songwriter. it's all about applying what you learn and learning how theory allows you to think "outside the box" (or a better analogy, is to realize there is no box)

theres still more to it than that though, arrangement, timbre, dynamics, these all make up parts of a song. if you have a great composition and these things are off then it's going to sound pretty terrible.


QFtruth
#7
at first it made me worse, then as i learned more, it started making me better than ive ever been at songwriting. you can either dedicate yourself to learning a shit-ton of theory and use it to your advantage, or just mess around, experiment, and be free, but you cant just START learning theory and decide half-way thru "i dont wanna do this anymore" because you'll be limited to what you know so far. i'm still pretty limited, if i could afford lessons i probly wouldnt be
#8
No doubt about it. Besides the fact theory gives you a knowledge to be able to stay within a key without really thinking, it helps you through the writing process when you get stuck. Most stuff I write, I don't attempt to apply any specific theory, I just create while jamming and stop and memorize something if I like it. but what theory does is allow me to analyze something I improvised, figure out why it sounds good and how to elaborate on it and where to go from there.
Quote by Night
wtf is a selfie? is that like, touching yourself or something?
#10
I am gonna stray from the path of yes's and say no. Now don't get me wrong theory is my best course in school and I like it and appreciate it but it has not changed how and what I create when I play. Rather I am able to understand how what I play works rather than just hearing that it sounds good I know why it does. But still it does not influence me one way or another in the creation process, theory is the last thought on my mind...
#11
Quote by z4twenny
i don't think it did no. i KNOW it did

but it wasn't just the theory, you can't really just read a book on theory and be a good songwriter. it's all about applying what you learn and learning how theory allows you to think "outside the box" (or a better analogy, is to realize there is no box)

theres still more to it than that though, arrangement, timbre, dynamics, these all make up parts of a song. if you have a great composition and these things are off then it's going to sound pretty terrible.


^^

It's helped for me that my ear has gotten a lot better as I've learnt more theory and I've found - as someone who had basically no knowledge of theory and a terrible ear for the first year or two of playing/composing - that the two are a massive help to each other.

Sometimes when I'd write stuff I'd, say, want two different sections to join in a song and I could almost imagine the kind of chord sequence or lead line or whatever I needed to join them, but I couldn't hear it clearly in my head (poor ear) and if I was trying to find it I was literally guessing at a note, adjusting that until I thought I had the right one, then doing it again for the next note...and the next...and the next...

Now, though, I start with a much clearer picture in my head of the sound I want and given that I know a bit of theory, I can usually make an pretty good guess at what note(s) I'm imagining are based on what notes/chords/progressions are before/after the part I'm trying to fill in. Cuts down massively on time spent messing around.
Quote by Ed O'Brien
“It’s not genius. It’s just that if you want something good to come out of something, you have to put in a lot of effort. That involves a lot of hard work, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears sometimes.”

http://urbanscarecrow.bandcamp.com/
#12
Yes
Tick tock and waiting for the meteor
This clock is opening another door
#13
Yes, anyone who says it doesn't help is a fucking idiot. Instead of cranking out one song every 6 months you can write one in the time it takes you to take a piss (not literally... exaggeration. You are ALWAYS using music theory whether you know it or not. When you are writing a song and you think that it'll sound good to go from D major to G major.... oh well thats a perfect V to I cadence, there you've just used a bit of music theory.
*Official Deadhead*

The times they are a-changin'
#14
Quote by trey-col89
Instead of cranking out one song every 6 months you can write one in the time it takes you to take a piss.

I completely agree. Before I knew the theory I do now, I would sit down with my guitar, just kinda mess around, write a riff or two, and it would take me forever to write one song. Now, I just sit down with a pen and paper, and write an entire song before I go to bed!
I'm just like the Jonas Brothers,

I'm no longer relevant and write mediocre music.


#17
Yes.

I can write better songs than I could before in less than an hour. What shies most people away is the learning curve, but beyond that mountain is a ****in' fantastic valley.
i don't know why i feel so dry
#18
Quote by Eastwinn
Yes.

I can write better songs than I could before in less than an hour. What shies most people away is the learning curve, but beyond that mountain is a ****in' fantastic valley.

+1

you get to a point where if you can explain why it should sound good then generally speaking it will.
#19
Theory definitely helps the writing process. The one thing to remember is theory does not write the music, it only helps.
#20
Quote by Guitar Guy21
Theory definitely helps the writing process. The one thing to remember is theory does not write the music, it only helps.

It can if you want/need it to though ;]
#21
Quote by DiminishedFifth
It can if you want/need it to though ;]

I know it can write music. A while back, I saw a moderator of the forum, I'm not going to say names, told a guy he couldn't do something from an example this guy posted because it did not follow some rules in theory. That should not be the attitude for people writing music. Just because theory can not explain something does not mean it is wrong. Theories are not set in stone. They can be changed if something new is found. That is why I think people should use theory to help them along but do not rely off of that as their main source for their writing. If their head is telling what sounds right, it is right. I do not really use theory to write my melodies these days. I hear something in my head and I transfer it onto the fretboard. I do use theory to help me do it faster, but theory is not writing my melodies. I find that theory helps me most for writing chord progressions to go along with my melodies. I know which chords have a better chance of working with the note I want to harmonize. After years of struggling, I found balance was the key to my success. I probably did not make any sense, but I did the best I can to explain my view.
#22
^ Theory does not say when something is right or wrong -- you've been misled. Whichever person said that was also misled.
i don't know why i feel so dry
#23
^ +1 - theory is an explanation, not a set of guidelines. it explains how sounds work together and interact.
#24
Completely agree with Guitar Guy21.

Theory is an explanation...thats all. They help in certain cases but I don't use it to create my music, I use it to explain my music.
Last edited by jrenkert at Aug 10, 2010,
#25
It's not guidelines.

Theory is a language. It's a big broad set of descriptors that allow us to identify commonalities between pieces of music. That's it. It's never told you what to do. No one ever said your progression or your melody had to be diatonic, so don't think you're breaking rules or stretching the mold by using unrecognized convention. Everything is recognized with theory, but not everything has a nifty name to go along with it. There is nothing you can't describe with theory, and nothing is off limits. Learning theory allows you to analyze works and communicate with musicians. Named, well-recognized conventions allow you to learn what's popular technique to help you reproduce desired sounds.

i don't know why i feel so dry
#26
Music theory is just another way to assimilate musical ideas. You hear something you think is awesome. You learn it on guitar and then you study it in detail and pick it apart to understand as many aspects as possible about what make it so awesome.

Then later when you're just messing around you might hit on something and think "hmmm..." and pull out one of those things you learned from the way that other piece of music worked, -Hey presto you just used music theory to help you write a song.

There are no rules or guidelines just ideas.

To answer the question: Yes exploring new ideas has made me a better composer.

Note: There is a language to music theory and with that language comes rules and guidelines. The rules and guidelines for the "language" of music theory is important to achieve common understanding. This is what allows us to share ideas with each other. But the "language" is only a means to an end, and the end is the sharing of theory; the ideas to which there are no rules, guidelines, or limits.
Si
Last edited by 20Tigers at Aug 10, 2010,
#27
Yes, I think that learning theory has progressed your song writing. If you know about music theory than you know in what is a high note and what is a low note. Music theory is useful for you to set rhythm during song writing.
#28
I can't even begin to convey how much it has helped me.
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Who's going to stop you? The music police?
#29
It has helped me. Harmony and Melody for example. But I only figure that out faster now. My songwriting didn't really get 'better' because I still lakced experience in all other aspects of songwriting: ArrangementCompositionLyrics. However theory did make me more fluent in experimenting, thus help me improve faster.

As you long remember that it's not ALL about music theory when it ocmes to songwriting you are on the right track.
#30
I can't say that my knowledge of theory has helped my songwriting at all.

Of course, my songwriting is confined to rather humorous little ditties like "cigar box blues" and "skindiver boogie".
Simple, 3-chord novelty songs..... No great theory involved.
#31
Music theory makes you such a better musician overall. It sure has helped me, though i still have allot to learn.