#1
We all know that you don't necessarily need to know theory in order to make great music, as many musicians have proven in the past. but what do you consider to be the essential amount of theory to know, or in other words what would not recommend playing/composing without the knowledge of?

I would say all musicians should know the minor and major scales. Not necessarily, the notes of each one, but the interval patterns and how they function. Guitarist in particular I would say at least some knowledge of chords and your common progression.
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#3
Where the notes are on the guitar.
How you build a chord. (Major-Minor-Diminished incl 7ths)
Scales (Major-Minor, other modes if you'd want to)

That would be the "essential" thing I guess.
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#4
There is no essential amount of theory. You can play just by sound - look at Mikael Akerfeldt. I know theory but i never use it when i'm writing, i only ever use it when i'm trying to work something out by ear or am analysing music. I think the most useful amount of theory you can know is knowing keys and the notes contained in chords, and i suppose knowing your fretboard. Once you know them you can pretty much improvise/write in key anyway. I don't think knowing intervals is absolutely necessary in the art of writing music, but is only absolutely crucial as far as the theoretical side of music goes.

If playing with other people it's also handy to know cadences so you can improvise on the fly - it takes the guess work out of it.
#5
depends where you wanna go really

Pop/Rock/Metal band - chord progression, cadences, chord building, key sigs etc

Anything else - that + ANYTHING
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#6
I think its handy to know scales, or at least how to work out scales. It sometimes helps when you get stuck in the songwriting process and you need a new progression or something. But think of people like Andy McKee who only knows like intervals and can't even read music and hes Brilliant.

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#7
If you're playing jazz... tons. But it depends you know, personally I find that knowing your notes on your fretboard, your major and minor scales and chord formation is enough.
#8
There's not really such a thing as an "amount" of theory...you learn what you need to understand the things you do.
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#9
Intervals. If you know about the various intervals and their different sounds in relation to one another, you don't need scales IMO.
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#10
Quote by whalepudding
Intervals. If you know about the various intervals and their different sounds in relation to one another, you don't need scales IMO.

This ^^^^^
imo, more important than knowing what notes your playing.
#11
Quote by Wiegenlied
We all know that you don't necessarily need to know theory in order to make great music, as many musicians have proven in the past. but what do you consider to be the essential amount of theory to know, or in other words what would not recommend playing/composing without the knowledge of?

I would say all musicians should know the minor and major scales. Not necessarily, the notes of each one, but the interval patterns and how they function. Guitarist in particular I would say at least some knowledge of chords and your common progression.


In my opinion -

All chords - All Keys - All Scales - Major and Minor Harmony - Analysis of Progressions - Cadences - Parallel Keys - Chord/Scale Relationships - Modulation - Intervals

Best,

Sean
#12
Chords: Maj, Min, 7th. Scales: Maj, Min, Pent. Circle of 5th's. Notes of the instrument. None is ever necessary, like you said, but I personally like knowing how it works, and why it sounds the way it does.
#13
I don't know a groundbreaking amount of theory, but I'd say that it's more important to know how to apply that theory to make songs and play your chosen instrument than just knowing it in the first place.
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#14
Quote by GilbertsPinky
There is no essential amount of theory.
/thread.

Quote by Wiegenlied
but what do you consider to be the essential amount of theory to know
If you mean the most important topics to understand, I'd have to say intervals and the major scale.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
Last edited by food1010 at Aug 15, 2010,
#15
In other words, let's say your in a band with someone who has no interest in studying theory. However you're a theory nut yourself and want to tell him what to learn enough to keep up with other musicians per se, and contribute himself.
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#16
Learn and apply theory until you feel liberated from the confusion of understanding music and your instrument.
Oh yeah.

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#17
Quote by Wiegenlied
We all know that you don't necessarily need to know theory in order to make great music, as many musicians have proven in the past. but what do you consider to be the essential amount of theory to know, or in other words what would not recommend playing/composing without the knowledge of?

I would say all musicians should know the minor and major scales. Not necessarily, the notes of each one, but the interval patterns and how they function. Guitarist in particular I would say at least some knowledge of chords and your common progression.

honestly, none of that. as long as you understand what you are doing, you dont "need" to know the names or formulas behind what you are doing. theres a bunch of stuff i dont know the formal theory behind but i know how to use it.
#18
Quote by Wiegenlied
In other words, let's say your in a band with someone who has no interest in studying theory. However you're a theory nut yourself and want to tell him what to learn enough to keep up with other musicians per se, and contribute himself.
A guitarist in an old band of mine knew no theory but had no trouble keeping up with other musicians. He could improvise great solo's on the fly and never used any kind of notation (including tabs) to learn songs.

You know what he used? His ears.
#19
Many people have remarkable abilities to hear (and remember!) musical tones and intervals and can accurately vamp along and/or improvise solos.
The late Tal Farlow learned complex chord voicings by listening to big-band radio shows.
(his fingerings were not "standard" but they worked...)

Many people don't.... I don't. However, in many genre's of "folk" music there is a long tradition of simply sitting down with someone who knows a song and doing what he does...
No theory required.
It's a fairly common thing for folks suffering from autism and other similar disorders to be able to precisely reproduce even complex music upon hearing it one time.
Their brain may not work for much else.... But at that they sometimes excel.
#20
Quote by Wiegenlied
what would you not recommend playing/composing without the knowledge of?


I would never make such a pointless recommendation.

There is no specific amount of theory a person must know to compose or play music. To believe otherwise is to ignore history / common practice and serves no practical purpose.

What I would recommend is that a person 1st learns to appreciate music (via listening) before learning to play, study or compose it.
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Last edited by GuitarMunky at Aug 15, 2010,
#22
intevals, chords, diatomic harmonisation, scales, CAGED patterns
#23
Quote by '93
diatomic harmonisation


That's my favorite kind of molecular harmony.
#24
Quote by Dodeka
That's my favorite kind of molecular harmony.


I prefer ionic chords.. It has all of the great parts about diatomic harmony plus a little more bonded in there. Yesterday I used a K2SO4 chord and man did it sound nice.
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#25
Quote by ArpeggiateTHIS
I don't know a groundbreaking amount of theory, but I'd say that it's more important to know how to apply that theory to make songs and play your chosen instrument than just knowing it in the first place.


This.
#26
Quote by Eastwinn
I prefer ionic chords.. It has all of the great parts about diatomic harmony plus a little more bonded in there. Yesterday I used a K2SO4 chord and man did it sound nice.

I, personally, prefer Quantum Harmony. Knowing where all my notes lie in relation to the tonic at any given time is very nice.

It's always trouble me how the "non-existent" H2CO3 chord comes about so often.. hmm...
#27
Quote by Dodeka
That's my favorite kind of molecular harmony.




meant to say diatonic

would be cool though...chemisty bout music. much better than my A level chem thats for sure
#28
Quote by Dodeka
That's my favorite kind of molecular harmony.
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#29
Quote by '93


meant to say diatonic


N/P...I was just bein' an a$$.
#30
You don't NEED any, but I'd say the major scale and intervals are the bare minimum.
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#31
Quote by whalepudding
Intervals. If you know about the various intervals and their different sounds in relation to one another, you don't need scales IMO.


This, and the pentatonic scale, don't care who you are, some of the best music ever written was in pentatonic, I write everything in pentatonic, being the only scale I know.

Also, know what your chords are, just the majors (like E), minors (like Am), and half note chords (like G#).
#32
Quote by ethan_hanus
half note chords (like G#).
What?
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#33
Quote by food1010
What?

I think he means accidentals since they're halfway between one note and another (like G and A, G# is halfway between them).

Though, he should probably just learn the term accidentals ;]
#34
Theory, like any language is important to precisely communicate your idea's. As opposed to just saying "Like this ..." then playing a riff.

Some people just hear music and understand of it. For me concepts like tonal centers and chord resolution allowed me to think and 'see' music in a whole new light. I knew that certain notes sounded good, but I didn't know why. Things like that are the real gist, way more important than memorizing your Sus chords etc.

Scales are just a place to start, some people never break out of them and that's sad frankly. Improvising the Minor Pent scale taught me to appreciate blues in a way that I never have before. The difference between the way I hear blues now and before is like putting on a pair of glasses (for my ears, yeah great metaphor I know). So there's that, theory can teach you to appreciate a genre that you dismissed before.