#1
So, I started playing guitar about 4 years ago. my main style was, and still is, classic rock and blues and like most guitarists of this genre, I never learnt how to read music notation. Recently, I've been getting interested in acoustic guitar music, like Tommy Emmanuel and others like him. I would really like to explore this musical style and write my own songs. My question is, will it be very detrimental for me if I dont know how to read music notation? I do know a decent amount of music theory.

Thx.
#2
Most of the rock and blues greats never learned to read music, either. They just played from their soul.
#3
is this just reading sheet music or is it knowing the notation? Do you know the notes on the fretboard, how to find chords all over the neck etc etc?

I think reading notation and being able to site read can help, but I dont think its 100% necessary. But I suggest you see what every one else says on this matter.
#4
You don't really need to read music to compose it. If you're writing solo acoustic pieces that you are going to perform yourself, there's really no reason. One purpose for knowing musical notation is to have a common way to communicate with other musicians. However, there are plenty of other ways to do that now without notation. Back before there were recording devices, musical notation was the only way to allow people to play what you'd written without you being there. Now it's very easy to record something and pass it along to band member.

So bottom line...just start composing and make a simple recording on a pocket recorder if you're afraid you'll forget what you wrote.
#5
if you know how to play, you'll be fine!
I can't read music but I compose all the time, lead solos, chords, riffs, picking patterns, the lot. As long as you know enough theory to get you through and you know the fret board then that really is all you need
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#6
Quote by manubro1
So, I started playing guitar about 4 years ago. my main style was, and still is, classic rock and blues and like most guitarists of this genre, I never learnt how to read music notation. Recently, I've been getting interested in acoustic guitar music, like Tommy Emmanuel and others like him. I would really like to explore this musical style and write my own songs. My question is, will it be very detrimental for me if I dont know how to read music notation? I do know a decent amount of music theory.

Thx.



I don't think it's detrimental in the slightest. Go write and go play. Have fun!

Best,

Sean
#8
Quote by KG6_Steven
Most of the rock and blues greats never learned to read music, either. They just played from their soul.



Please stop spouting this horse sh..

Yeah fair enough some of the legends didn't know theory as such, but they experimented with composition even though they didn't necessarily know the names of the notes they were playing. They had a fundamental idea of what sounds good and what resolves etc.

Playing from the soul is such a retarded thing to say to someone when they are talking about applying theory. It really grates on me
#9
I dont think i'll ever learn to read music and Honestly i dont see my need to.

You dont need music theory to write great music although it may/will help you.

Good luck.
#10
Quote by manubro1
So, I started playing guitar about 4 years ago. my main style was, and still is, classic rock and blues and like most guitarists of this genre, I never learnt how to read music notation. Recently, I've been getting interested in acoustic guitar music, like Tommy Emmanuel and others like him. I would really like to explore this musical style and write my own songs. My question is, will it be very detrimental for me if I dont know how to read music notation? I do know a decent amount of music theory.

Thx.


simple answer to the question as stated in the thread title.......... No.

of-course if you placed theory in place of reading music, I'd give you the same answer.

and the same goes for any other pseudo-qualifier of awesomeness.

If you're ready to write..... start writing.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Mar 31, 2011,
#11
You can write and play anything you want without knowing any theory at all. I know lots of people who do it. It just depends how creative you are and how good you are at figuring things out by ear
I hate my sig
#12
Quote by Zanon
Please stop spouting this horse sh..

Yeah fair enough some of the legends didn't know theory as such, but they experimented with composition even though they didn't necessarily know the names of the notes they were playing. They had a fundamental idea of what sounds good and what resolves etc.

Playing from the soul is such a retarded thing to say to someone when they are talking about applying theory. It really grates on me

sorry dude, this ain't a theory post its about sight reading (which is what was refeered to in the comment you are quoting), and alot of rock and blues guys cant read sheet music, they just "feel" the music.

anyway TS, the short answer is no, you don't need to know how to read sheet music.

but I now have a question for you, or anyone really, is there any good reason not to? (and no 'it takes too long' is not a good reason)
Quote by Dirk Gently
Some pieces are only meant to be played by people with six fingers on their fretting hand. Sorry.
#13
Why not though? It's not like its a life or death decision.

Why base your life and guitar playing on some guy named Tommy?

It might not be now, but if at some point you see that reading will improve your playing, then why not take a chance?
#15
Everyone seems to be getting sight reading and theory confused here!

Sight reading may at some point help your playing although I'm yet to have a reason to after 4 years. However, theory helps IMMENSLY! If you don't know keys, scales, fifths, all of that stuff then you won't be composing very well unless you spend a hell of a lot of time experimenting. Learning an amount of theory enables you to do so much more, playing different scales in various keys, harmonising chords, makes everything sound better.

Don't get me wrong, I don't know loads of theory. But I know enough. I never did music at school or college cause I didn't want to take the fun out of it, but I have learnt a lot along the way just from learning to play guitar.

Theory = yes
Sight reading = not necessarily
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#16
Also, reading music only enables you to read other people's music. Simple logic tells you that this won't help write your own!
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#17
Quote by makutoid
Also, reading music only enables you to read other people's music. Simple logic tells you that this won't help write your own!

so you shouldn't learn other peoples music, cuz it wont help you? seriously that is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard.... if you learn to read music you can then read any piece of music for any instrument, and you will be able to understand how to apply different things....

also theory is not a neccessity, its just not learning it makes writing unneccesarily difficult.
Quote by Dirk Gently
Some pieces are only meant to be played by people with six fingers on their fretting hand. Sorry.
Last edited by krypticguitar87 at Apr 1, 2011,
#18
Not long before the baroque period, it was considered taboo to record music in any way. A song written by one artist would evolve like a game of telephone as it was interpreted by others. To them, making a written record destroyed that organic freedom that music was supposed to embody.
#19
Quote by manubro1
So, I started playing guitar about 4 years ago. my main style was, and still is, classic rock and blues and like most guitarists of this genre, I never learnt how to read music notation. Recently, I've been getting interested in acoustic guitar music, like Tommy Emmanuel and others like him. I would really like to explore this musical style and write my own songs. My question is, will it be very detrimental for me if I dont know how to read music notation? I do know a decent amount of music theory.

Thx.


no, not really. but if you ever want to get beyond that and write a simple piece for a couple of orchestral arrangements, you're going to need to know music notation, because tabs won't do you shit for a cello or a trumpet.

as a musician, i strongly advise you to learn music notation. you have absolutely nothing to lose but worlds to gain. however, tabs should do you just fine for acoustic guitar.

Quote by Deaddog
Not long before the baroque period, it was considered taboo to record music in any way. A song written by one artist would evolve like a game of telephone as it was interpreted by others. To them, making a written record destroyed that organic freedom that music was supposed to embody.


absolutely. and then music became more than one melodic line. seriously, though, music notation is a necessity. can you imagine where we'd be if bach's contrapuntal mastery, mozart's godly melodies, beethoven's fiery symphonies, and stravinsky's savage rhythms were all lost? i guess we'd be exactly where we are now -- in our verse-chorus-verse-chorus-bridge-chorus-outro musical world where a piece shouldn't have any more than 2 or 3 melodies filling up 3 or 4 minutes' time. but we'd lose out on the best musicians have had to offer for centuries.

EDIT:

Quote by makutoid
Also, reading music only enables you to read other people's music. Simple logic tells you that this won't help write your own!


that is some f**ked up logic. so understanding other people's music won't help you write your own? then i guess understanding chemistry won't make you a better chemist. understanding the human body won't make you a better physician.

here's a little tip: there's a lot more to being a competent and serious musician than having fun. and there's a lot more to theory than a few scales and the circle of fifths. maybe if you broke outside of your comfort zone, you'd benefit from it.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
Last edited by AeolianWolf at Apr 1, 2011,
#20
Quote by AeolianWolf
there's a lot more to being a competent and serious musician than having fun.
Right, music belongs in a museum, and museums are for dead things.
#21
Quote by AeolianWolf
there's a lot more to being a competent and serious musician than having fun.


I'm serious about having fun with music, and pretty competent at that.
shred is gaudy music
#22
no you can still write great music, but if your looking at composing stuff as a hobby and not just a once off, it will definitely help. my advice would be to write whatever you feel you can (if you can read tabs, tab it out etc) and when you feel like you need to expand your horizons to progress, learn to read.

it will help in the long run, but you don't need it to start off. i would recommend doing it eventually though!
#23
id say yes it would be detrimental not to read music .
but remember to read with creativeness,imagination and passion !

saying that.
traditionally african music has been passed on aurally , if you were to sight read a blues or even rock that stems from it . you may be missing the point of its cultural origin ?
#24
Quote by GuitarMunky
I'm serious about having fun with music, and pretty competent at that.


so am i. that's why i said "there's more to it" than "there's no fun in it".

Quote by Deaddog
Right, music belongs in a museum, and museums are for dead things.


i have no idea how that relates to the discussion at hand.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#25
Quote by Pillo114
Why not though? It's not like its a life or death decision.

Why base your life and guitar playing on some guy named Tommy?

It might not be now, but if at some point you see that reading will improve your playing, then why not take a chance?



i dont think he means he wants to idolise tommy emmanuel,u should check out his stuff though,probably the best acoustic guitarist ever..
#26
Quote by krypticguitar87
so you shouldn't learn other peoples music, cuz it wont help you? seriously that is one of the dumbest things I've ever heard.... if you learn to read music you can then read any piece of music for any instrument, and you will be able to understand how to apply different things....


I really don't appreciate when people try to twist my words to say something that I never said, please don't be one of those idiots.

I never said that you shouldn't learn other people's music as I'm not a retard. The only way I learnt to play guitar was purely by learning other people's stuff, what else are you gonna do?

In short, read the comments properly before you try and argue against something which was purely in your head, it makes you look like a complete moron.
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#27
Quote by AeolianWolf

that is some f**ked up logic. so understanding other people's music won't help you write your own? then i guess understanding chemistry won't make you a better chemist. understanding the human body won't make you a better physician.


You also, are dumb. I never said that, I said that purely reading other people's stuff will not directly make you any better at writing your own. That is all. As I said, really don't appreciate when people assume stuff without reason. "Assumption simply makes a fool of both you and I".
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#28
Quote by makutoid
You also, are dumb. I never said that, I said that purely reading other people's stuff will not directly make you any better at writing your own. That is all. As I said, really don't appreciate when people assume stuff without reason. "Assumption simply makes a fool of both you and I".


ooh, we're getting personal attacks involved now? fun stuff.

i don't assume stupid shit without reason. i take the stupid shit you say and expand upon it. unless you don't consider "simple logic says that understanding other people's music won't help you write your own!!1!!" good enough reason. so if you're really going captain semantics on us and saying that the physical act of reading someone else's music won't make you better at writing it, then surely you must agree that reading doesn't improve language skills in the least. it only does no good to the illiterate.

you don't want people to twist your words? let me help:

1) don't say stupid obvious shit, e.g. "the physical act of reading a sheet of music alone, taken completely out of context and neglecting all other factors, such as any understanding that may come from reading that sheet of music, will not help you write music", or "eating junk food doesn't make you fat, it's the digestion and absorption of the lipids per se that makes you fat".

2) think. obviously i'm not going to get any better at rock climbing by reading an article about safety in rock climbing, but i'll have an idea of what to do and what not to do when i finally attempt it. can you see the similarities? or do i have to spell those out, too?
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#29
there are some really happy people on this forum lately arent there... what the hell is wrong with you?!

reading a book doesn't directly enhance your use of a language. you pick up vocabulary and grammar etc through reading which then enables you to use the language better if you so choose. similarly, learning other people's music will teach you stuff like phrasing, techniques, and bits of theory. yet, you don't have to read standard music notation or be able to do that. YOU'RE ON A TABS WEBSITE!

you know full well what I meant unless you are actually mentally retarded! i meant my comment in the simplest of ways, and figured that I wouldn't have to spell it out exactly as it was intended cause most people have the common sense to understand it.

do you not think that perhaps that there was actually bugger all point in "expanding" it seeing as it did no good for the discussion at all?

what you fail to realise is that the "stupid obvious shit" isn't obvious to everyone. there are plenty of forums threads of people asking what I think are stupid questions because the answer is obvious to me. however, it's obviously not obvious to them or they wouldn't have asked.

i made one comment to try and help the guy out, which you read into more than was intended. in what way is that my fault?

grow up and stop trying to start an argument over stuff that has no significance, it's pretty pathetic if you ask me. for that reason, i can't be assed to come and check this again, it's past interesting now.
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Rather large pedalboard..