#1
now maybe this is just me, but does it seem like alot of people overthink writing music? for me i just write what sounds good. i dont know anything about modes of scales or anything like that. i know minor theory but not alot. idk. i just feel like when i hear people on here talking about writing music they go into all these complex things which u really dont have to know to write music. it makes me feel hopeless haha. any1 else get that?
#2
You don't need to. But I like knowing why the thing I just wrote sounds good.

I've used every bit of theory I've ever learned, in case you're wondering.
Last edited by DiminishedFifth at Aug 12, 2010,
#3
Quote by DiminishedFifth
You don't need to. But I like knowing why the thing I just wrote sounds good.

I've used every bit of theory I've ever learned, for reference.

this
#4
I don't know much theory but I find it fascinating to see how other artists have used different scales and tonalities to create something. I don't use it much myself when writing but if I'm stuck and know what key I'm in its helpful in figuring out what notes will fit or how i can progress into the next part.
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#5
o yeah i hear you. not saying i dont agree with that. im just saying that somepeople make it out to be some impossible feat. and it makes me feel like crap haha
#6
Its a lot easier to harmonize a tonal melody and make it sound good, so I tend to stick to minor or harmonic minor tonalities.
#7
I don't know why it makes you feel "hopeless", I don't really get it.
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#8
Some people overthink it, some people underthink it...doesn't really affect you in any way.
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#11
In response to your original post, no you don't really need theory if you've got a good ear. My view is that it's just a tool and not a method for songwriting or composing. But knowing things like what key you're in or how different intervals work can help write a song. Say if you wanted to write a metal song and wanted it to be dark and brooding, well the b5 interval is a great tool to do that with. For example, Enter Sandman takes advantage of this note (in this case A#) by throwing it in as a passing tone in the main riff (E E E A# A). Those are the notes that make up the very first phrase. I hope that example helped you out.
#12
Theory definitely helps, but I've heard a lot of music that is steeped in "theory" that doesn't sound very good, almost like a person that's trying to use fancy words when they talk to make themselves sound smart.

I agree with Silence Breaker in saying that having a good ear is key.

Another good thing to do is analyze the songs you know and take licks, chords, progressions, riff ideas, etc. from them and add them to your vocabulary.
#13
Give me an example of music steeped in theory.

I think what you mean is something that's complex and tries too hard from a composing angle. All music can be broken down and analyzed to its simplest form through theory. Like you said, it's a language that can sound condescending if exaggerated.
#14
Quote by Vicious_Turtle
now maybe this is just me, but does it seem like alot of people overthink writing music? for me i just write what sounds good. i dont know anything about modes of scales or anything like that. i know minor theory but not alot. idk. i just feel like when i hear people on here talking about writing music they go into all these complex things which u really dont have to know to write music. it makes me feel hopeless haha. any1 else get that?


Yes, I think alot of people do that. You don't have to though..... and you could still get into theory without "over-thinking it"..... thats a personal issue not a problem with studying theory.


Quote by STONESHAKER
Theory definitely helps, but I've heard a lot of music that is steeped in "theory" that doesn't sound very good, almost like a person that's trying to use fancy words when they talk to make themselves sound smart.
.


exactly. that shouldn't dissuade anyone from learning theory though.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 14, 2010,
#15
Quote by SilenceBreaker
In response to your original post, no you don't really need theory if you've got a good ear. My view is that it's just a tool and not a method for songwriting or composing. But knowing things like what key you're in or how different intervals work can help write a song. Say if you wanted to write a metal song and wanted it to be dark and brooding, well the b5 interval is a great tool to do that with. For example, Enter Sandman takes advantage of this note (in this case A#) by throwing it in as a passing tone in the main riff (E E E A# A). Those are the notes that make up the very first phrase. I hope that example helped you out.


Bro that's a Bb.

I think you're overthinking it. Theory is simple academics. Maybe you should try learning it and you'll understand what all the fuss is about.
i don't know why i feel so dry
#16
i do understand some of it. and i dont overthink it. im just saying i dont like when others overthink it cause it makes me feel like i have no chance to get into the music world. some people act like you have to know every scale. every chord. every mode of every scale. every chord inversion. and have to sweep pick the whole neck through an augmentented 9th phrygian dominant scale to make decent songs. (i have no clue if the augmented 9th stuff is even possible. just trying 2 make it sound complex :P)
#17
You need a good ear. Period. Some people need help to make their ears better, so they use visual aids, which is pretty much what theory is. Giving a sound to a symbol.... i.e - V-I
So no, people don't over think, they just need help with what their hearing in their head, and like having an explanation as to why it sounds that way.... some people don't need theory at all cause their ears are just that good... but it always helps to know theory, so you can communicate with others
#18
Quote by Vicious_Turtle
i do understand some of it. and i dont overthink it. im just saying i dont like when others overthink it cause it makes me feel like i have no chance to get into the music world. some people act like you have to know every scale. every chord. every mode of every scale. every chord inversion. and have to sweep pick the whole neck through an augmentented 9th phrygian dominant scale to make decent songs. (i have no clue if the augmented 9th stuff is even possible. just trying 2 make it sound complex :P)

Nah, you don't need to know every little thing. Learn what interests you and what you think will actually help. It is always helpful to start at the beginning though since theory builds on itself. You need to know previous information to understand the next step is usually how it goes. It isn't necessary by any means but it's a great tool to be able to use.
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#19
I personally use very little theory for my first draft, but when I start editing that, I'll add in more theory.
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#20
Quote by sites.nick
I personally use very little theory for my first draft, but when I start editing that, I'll add in more theory.


I find myself doing this too. A lot of times, I'll be jamming around and come up with a cool riff, then I'll record it on my phone (shitty quality, but gets the job done as far as remembering it) and then go back and listen to a few of them, see what ones sound good together and try to piece them into part of a song.

Then, as I write the other instruments, I'll start thinking about harmonies and whatnot, particularly with the bass and the guitar, since I don't really use keys.

But RE above as to music steeped in theory: any of Bach's fugues. Don't get me wrong, I like Bach, but I rarely find myself listening to him.
#21
Quote by Eastwinn
Bro that's a Bb.

I think you're overthinking it. Theory is simple academics. Maybe you should try learning it and you'll understand what all the fuss is about.


It's the same note. Why the attitude dude?
#23
Quote by Vicious_Turtle
i do understand some of it. and i dont overthink it. im just saying i dont like when others overthink it cause it makes me feel like i have no chance to get into the music world. some people act like you have to know every scale. every chord. every mode of every scale. every chord inversion. and have to sweep pick the whole neck through an augmentented 9th phrygian dominant scale to make decent songs. (i have no clue if the augmented 9th stuff is even possible. just trying 2 make it sound complex :P)

If you're serious about being as good as you can be, you'll want to learn everything you can.

Plus, if you're trying to comunicate with other musicians.. it's so frustrating when someone can't explain what they're playing, personally.. I have a hard time taking anyone seriously who refuses to learn
#24
Quote by Vicious_Turtle
i do understand some of it. and i dont overthink it. im just saying i dont like when others overthink it cause it makes me feel like i have no chance to get into the music world. some people act like you have to know every scale. every chord. every mode of every scale. every chord inversion. and have to sweep pick the whole neck through an augmentented 9th phrygian dominant scale to make decent songs. (i have no clue if the augmented 9th stuff is even possible. just trying 2 make it sound complex :P)


People who think that you need to know "every scale" are extremely misguided. Theory is not about learning scales. It's much different. It's only really about two scales: the Major scale, and Minor scale. The modes have their place, certainly, but you'll find that intricate knowledge of just major and minor, beyond just shapes on the fretboard, will grant you far more practical knowledge than someone who just knows every shape in Guitar Guru.

It happens a lot with guitarists, for some reason. No one playing the flute will be learning shapes from Flute Guru.

Their not really overthinking, they're just not thinking the right thing, I guess.

Oh and a b5 from E is a Bb. No attitude, just pedantry.
i don't know why i feel so dry
#25
Learning every scale? Dude, just learning the major scale inside and out will help you learn the melodic minor and harmonic minor really easy. I suppose I should clarify though; by "learning the major scale", I mean not only knowing all of its positions, but also knowing the degree of every note in every shape. That last bit is key.
#26
Quote by SilenceBreaker
It's the same note. Why the attitude dude?


same pitch. different thing. A# is not the b5 of E. it's an augmented fourth.
#DTWD
#28
Quote by Eastwinn
People who think that you need to know "every scale" are extremely misguided. Theory is not about learning scales. It's much different. It's only really about two scales: the Major scale, and Minor scale. The modes have their place, certainly, but you'll find that intricate knowledge of just major and minor, beyond just shapes on the fretboard, will grant you far more practical knowledge than someone who just knows every shape in Guitar Guru.

It happens a lot with guitarists, for some reason. No one playing the flute will be learning shapes from Flute Guru.

Their not really overthinking, they're just not thinking the right thing, I guess.

Oh and a b5 from E is a Bb. No attitude, just pedantry.

+1

and i wouldn't consider it pedantic in the art of songwriting, knowing the difference between an A# and Bb is important i think. if i had someone playing off of sheet music and i told them "its that A#" it might drive them nuts trying to find the notated A# which they won't find as its not on the sheet music

granted they're both the equal spacing from the same notes, but again, i think we've stated this before that in the process of songwriting pretty much everything you do is contextually compared to everything else
#29
Quote by Eastwinn
Theory is not about learning scales. It's much different. It's only really about two scales: the Major scale, and Minor scale. .


really?

I would say theory is about understanding, and that it's in no way limited to the harmonic materials of the common practice period.
shred is gaudy music
#30
^ what i got from theory is the relationship between tones of varying degrees. music theory does encompass lots of things but the basic foundation of it initially is the major and minor scale in western music, they build based off of that.
#31
Quote by z4twenny
^ what i got from theory is the relationship between tones of varying degrees. music theory does encompass lots of things but the basic foundation of it initially is the major and minor scale in western music, they build based off of that.


I agree, the Major and minor scales are obviously very important.

Was just adding a bit of pedanticalness because there isn't enough of that around here.

shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 20, 2010,
#33
If you don't know much theory then how can you possibly decide that knowing too much is over complicating it?
"The mind is everything. What you think, you become."
#34
the way i see it there are a few different ways to learn theory, there are some ways that will feel like limits and tell you exactly what to do for every song, no fun. then there are ways to learn where you figure out what scales or intervals or whatever you want to use for certain effects, like the phrygian dominant mode (if i remember correctly) has a spanish flavor and a major quality, so if that's the sound you're going for, you can use that scale. I like learning all this theory to put into my songs when im writing, at first theory was a limitation, but as i learned more, it became freedom. so now im a much better writer than i was before starting to learn theory, and for improvising, im trying to learn jazz improvisation techniques. if you're a creative person, and you can already hear the song in your head, figure it out by ear, and write it down, then keep theoy out of mind when doing that, itll just mess you up, i usually use theory to analyze what ive written in an unfinished song and then finish it with what theoretically makes sense. like if i've written a chord progression without a melody, or a melody without a chord progression, theory helps me finish that.

edit: i also like bth complicated and simple music, theory applies to any sound you can make in one way or another, if you love a band and want to sound like them, and you're an expert in theory, you can figure out what gives them that unique sound, therefore becoming a zerox copy of them, unless you have diverse influences and use theor to figure out how to sound like each of them and mix it all together to be more unique.
Last edited by TMVATDI at Aug 21, 2010,
#35
Quote by Vicious_Turtle
now maybe this is just me, but does it seem like alot of people overthink writing music? for me i just write what sounds good.
I don't understand why people need road maps. I've never used them. Never will. I just go wherever I feel like going.

I hear there are strange lands behind the trees. I don't know. Never been there. Everything I like is right here. Got my church. Got my pub. Got my bed. That's all I need.

I don't know how to read either but that's alright. Nobody does in our parts. Our preacher tells us what we need to know. Old Jacob tells us when we need to sow. And ma tells when we need to sleep. That's all I need to know.

People are very friendly here. They tend to look a bit alike though, and we all have that same cleft between our front teeth. And a funny chin too. But that's all right. We like it just fine this way.
#36
Quote by Withakay
I don't understand why people need road maps. I've never used them. Never will. I just go wherever I feel like going.

I know/use plenty of theory but can't read maps
#37
In my opinion theory should be used as an inspiration to find out about new combinations of sounds melodically and harmonically, and as a reference in how the sounds you find aurally interesting work.

Furthermore you need a good ear, cause at the end of the day most likely most people will judge your music by listening to it, and not with holding a sheet in one hand, a textbook in the other, and analysing it to see how many conventions they can name/find.

Offcourse, maybe some people only want to boast their knowledge to others, and if this works for you, I guess it's okay, but then imo you should become a teacher and not a performer/distributor of music.

My apologies if this in any way comes across as elitist, it's just my view and personal experience.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Aug 22, 2010,
#38
Quote by DiminishedFifth
I know/use plenty of theory but can't read maps
I laughed tears to my eyes! That is not the reply I expected. :-)

(Top of the map is north. All blue is water.) ;-)
Quote by xxdarrenxx
Furthermore you need a good ear
I don't totally agree, darren. Of course it helps, but if you apply the rules correctly, you will undeniably come up with good sounding music. Of course it might sound dull, if you have little experience. But there are even theoretical guidelines to help you develop interesting progressions.
#39
I used to overthink and overanalyse when I was starting out with getting to know theory. Kinda using it as a crutch for a lack of songwriting skill, but instead of making it easier, it seems like I was just getting myself more 'stuck'.

It got better though.. trying to write music solely from a 'theory' framework doesnt work, but it certainly helps to get a perspective and 'roadmap' for possibilities. Some knowledge and application of knowledge is neccesary if you want to give a lot of different parts, solos, melodies a kind of coherent natural flow. Being able to identify a context and have a kind of list of possible chord varieties will help immensly if you want to find intresting sounding progressions for example.