Poll: Music/Guitar Theory Essential VS. Little To No Music Theory Knowledge
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View poll results: Music/Guitar Theory Essential VS. Little To No Music Theory Knowledge
Essential to learning
33 58%
Learn what you think might help
21 37%
Unessential to learning
3 5%
Voters: 57.
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#1
As a beginning musician, this question really, really has been bugging me. Right now I'm trying to teach myself blues and rock. Now there are two sides to this argument. One is that music theory is always essential when it comes to making music. The other argument is that you don't need any music theory knowledge at all. Just a pair of ears. Now me just starting guitar I'm starting to form my own opinions about the subject. Now my guitar idols, Jimi Hendrix, SRV, Albert King, people of those nature were all successful musicians without to my knowledge, of any music theory background at all. On the other hand I have other idols. Steve Vai, Joe Satriani, and Paul Gilbert all have some music theory background all very successful. The similarities with the artist I just named are inherently obvious. They are all guitarist and all successful, but what are the differences?.. Well, the style of music obviously. That may be a factor. I think that the last three artist I named just learned or retained what they felt was essential and discarded the rest. I guess my only questions are does it speed up your learning experience playing guitar?.. Does it render you of your creativity and just enjoying the experience of playing?.. Give me your opinions and thoughts about it.
#2
Well, in my case, my soloing and riff making skills we're very bland. When i learnt about the modes a bit, I improved severly
Bong Rips
& Bong Rips
& Bong Rips
& Bong Rips
#3
The other argument is that you don't need any music theory knowledge at all. Just a pair of ears.
What you need is an incredibly rare pair of ears to be able to play well without any theory. You will hit walls that theory will boost you over.
Inhuman evil take down!
#4
Quote by Lobyte
Well, in my case, my soloing and riff making skills we're very bland. When i learnt about the modes a bit, I improved severly


Thats what I'm saying.. Maybe it's just more what you think will help you. Based on the style of music you play..
Last edited by Sn0wM1s3r at May 25, 2011,
#5
the more you know, the more options you have at your disposal when playing and writing.

Sounds good to me.
---
#6
Quote by 18th_Angel
What you need is an incredibly rare pair of ears to be able to play well without any theory. You will hit walls that theory will boost you over.


Yeah, but what about on the lines of style?.. You think Jimi Hendrix would change anything about the way he plays or take a second glance at... Yngwie Malmsteen just because he plays fast and can play sweeping arpeggios of Beethoven's 5th?..
#7
Quote by Robfreitag
the more you know, the more options you have at your disposal when playing and writing.

Sounds good to me.


Yes, but does it speed up your learning experience as a beginner?.. I'm not gonna waste my time if it's gonna take the same amount time to learn theory and master guitar then to not of learn any at all and master guitar for the likings of the style you play, but I see what your saying about options. Do you think it's something I should consider doing as I get better with my method now?..
#8
Quote by Sn0wM1s3r
Yeah, but what about on the lines of style?.. You think Jimi Hendrix would change anything about the way he plays or take a second glance at... Yngwie Malmsteen just because he plays fast and can play sweeping arpeggios of Beethoven's 5th?..

I don't know your point is. You can have as much style as you want with or without knowledge of theory.
Inhuman evil take down!
#9
Quote by 18th_Angel
I don't know your point is. You can have as much style as you want with or without knowledge of theory.


That's what I'm staying. Will it be more beneficial to learn theory if all I played was blues and rock?..
#10
Quote by Sn0wM1s3r
That's what I'm staying. Will it be more beneficial to learn theory if all I played was blues and rock?..
Yes, it will always be beneficial to learn music theory.
Style is how you play. Theory is what you play.
Inhuman evil take down!
#11
Quote by Sn0wM1s3r
That's what I'm staying. Will it be more beneficial to learn theory if all I played was blues and rock?..

Theory helps you understand music - if you understand something then that makes it easier to learn, and it also makes creating easier.
Actually called Mark!

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#12
If you were to start investing in the stock market, would it help you if you knew how the money flows, how everything works in relation to each other?
Would you use a guide when you want to build a computer, or would you do it from scratch, without any prior notice, and just build it with your instinct?
Could you describe all of physics with just instinct and good math skills?
Do you think you would do better on your own without any guidance than with the information that is out there that has been worked on for hundreds of years with the brightest of people in that area?

Why would music be the exception to all of this?
Last edited by Keth at May 25, 2011,
#13
Kind of depends on what you're doing. There have been many thousands of musicians all over the world who were and are quite successful without knowing anything of theory at all.

Ethnic, folk, "roots" musicians of dozens of different styles and types.... Simply not necessary. I imagine you'd be hard pressed to name any of the great old bluesmen who were "trained musicians".
However, there are as many types of playing that absolutely require at least an essential knowledge of music theory.
#14
Theres no real excuse not to learn theory. Most of it is very easy and common sense. I think a lot of people get misconceptions because people are constantly over complicating things or learning too much too fast before learning to apply what they know. It doesnt help when people are just straight up crap at explaining things. Even on here, ive lost count of the times ive seen someone post a simple question about harmonising the major scale or something similar and they will either get people responding with a huge list of things to study or some misguided crap about resolving to the flattened 12th of the Locrian mode.
#15
Also i get the impression a lot of people wont study theory because they see it as a waste of time that they could actually spend playing. I think its best to treat it completely different to that. I study theory when i doing something boring and couldnt play guitar anyway, such as when im on public transport or on my lunch break from work etc.
#16
If you can play guitar, you know theory. You learn it all the time whether you actually study it or not. Thats my view, and if you think it's cool not to know the name of an 'A' chord then thats just pathetic.

Paul
#17
I think you overthink the issue. What matters is how you see it. You can spend a lot of time and energy listening to everyones opinions. In the end you'll do it the way you want to anyways. I think being self taught is one of the slowest and difficult ways to proceed. Simply because you aren't teaching yourself anything, you can imitate something, but you can go a long ways and realize that you dont know anything. You have to decide for yourself whats meaningful about playing. Is it knowing what is going on, or is it more being a functional imitative guitarist who can play other's stuff, with any idea how it all happens to fit together and why it works.

I think of something that used to impress me when I was starting out, the opening to Van Halen's Panama.

Many people have learned that riff. I know it too, and while I may not have bothered to learn it like he did I can play it pretty well. I also can see it as a sequence of double stops built around triads in Eb. Can the dude that pays it note for note see it? I think no matter what, I will always have the advantage from seeing the song as a whole, and knowing that the Cm in measure X is the vi chord, etc. while the other guy simply has repeatedly practiced things to be a fine imitator. Nothing wrong with that if that's your thing. Many people in Vegas make a great living pretending to be Elvis.

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at May 25, 2011,
#19
Thoery helps a lot.... that can't be argued with.

Personally, I love theory... I love to sit their and learn a bit of theory, then apply that to my guitar. I love how I can make just about Anything on my guitar out of nothing, just by knowing a bit of theory.
#20
Quote by Keth
If you were to start investing in the stock market, would it help you if you knew how the money flows, how everything works in relation to each other?
Would you use a guide when you want to build a computer, or would you do it from scratch, without any prior notice, and just build it with your instinct?
Could you describe all of physics with just instinct and good math skills?
Do you think you would do better on your own without any guidance than with the information that is out there that has been worked on for hundreds of years with the brightest of people in that area?

Why would music be the exception to all of this?


Expression. Not everything is meant to be structured.
#21
Quote by Sean0913
I think you overthink the issue. What matters is how you see it. You can spend a lot of time and energy listening to everyones opinions. In the end you'll do it the way you want to anyways. I think being self taught is one of the slowest and difficult ways to proceed. Simply because you aren't teaching yourself anything, you can imitate something, but you can go a long ways and realize that you dont know anything. You have to decide for yourself whats meaningful about playing. Is it knowing what is going on, or is it more being a functional imitative guitarist who can play other's stuff, with any idea how it all happens to fit together and why it works.

I think of something that used to impress me when I was starting out, the opening to Van Halen's Panama.

Many people have learned that riff. I know it too, and while I may not have bothered to learn it like he did I can play it pretty well. I also can see it as a sequence of double stops built around triads in Eb. Can the dude that pays it note for note see it? I think no matter what, I will always have the advantage from seeing the song as a whole, and knowing that the Cm in measure X is the vi chord, etc. while the other guy simply has repeatedly practiced things to be a fine imitator. Nothing wrong with that if that's your thing. Many people in Vegas make a great living pretending to be Elvis.

Sean


Ha, I agree with a lot of the things you are saying. People say Jimi Hendrix (I'm sorry if it seems I'm always referring back to him) took a lot of licks and things from T. Bone Walker and Albert King, but at some point I think he kind of transcended from sounding like them to sounding more like Jimi. I think in blues anyways that how it usually works. I agree that knowing more about what your actually playing is a satisfaction, but what about the feeling aspect of the music you make.
#22
you can play with feeling if you know theory, its not one or the other. However you can play with as much feeling as you like but if youre out of key, youre still out of key
#23
You won't lose feeling by learning theory. Learning proper grammar hasn't stopped you from swearing, has it?
You could be the best in the world without knowing any theory. But you wouldn't know you're the best either. And besides, since when has knowing MORE been a bad thing?
#24
Quote by Sn0wM1s3r
I agree that knowing more about what your actually playing is a satisfaction, but what about the feeling aspect of the music you make.

What about it? It's not like now that you know what's happening in a song you lose all feeling for it. The feeling is still there, just now you also can speculate as to how to make that sound again if you need it later.
#26
Quote by Sn0wM1s3r
Expression. Not everything is meant to be structured.



If music weren't structured, it would be nothing but a cacophony; all art is structured in some sense.

Without knowing the rules, how can you break them?
#27
There is so much misconception with regards to music theory and it's purpose that I'm not even going to attempt to try to explain it to people who are just too lazy to learn it.
#28
Quote by steven seagull
Theory helps you understand music - if you understand something then that makes it easier to learn, and it also makes creating easier.



For some people theory itself is a hurdle and they say "But I know what I want"

I would add that theory gives you the vocabulary to talk about and communicate with other musicians what you, often, already know about music -- it gives a common vocabulary. Which in turn leads to more understanding.
#30
Quote by CarsonStevens
People always say "Jimi Hendrix didn't need to know theory."

I always say, "Are you as good as Jimi Hendrix?"


Anyone can be as good or better than he was at learning and playing by ear. It's not like he jumped out the womb with a guitar in his hands. It just takes time. Just like learning theory.
Last edited by Sn0wM1s3r at May 26, 2011,
#31
Quote by DiminishedFifth
What about it? It's not like now that you know what's happening in a song you lose all feeling for it. The feeling is still there, just now you also can speculate as to how to make that sound again if you need it later.


I understand, but I just feel like you have more of a soulful connection with your music if you don't try to play it perfect everytime you play it. It's like how people say Jimi Hendrix never played Voodoo Child twice the same way, he did that on purpose. Steve Vai with the song he wrote For The Love Of God he says he can't play the ascending scale part in the song perfect like how it was recorded and it frustrates him that he can't. You see what I mean, like?..
#32
Steve Vai, Guthrie Govan, Greg Howe and many other greats each perform their sets differently. They're more-than-competent improvisers and solid musicians overall in large part due to their knowledge of theoretical concepts and awareness of musical protocol.
Of course, these guys have played in a multitude of scenarios and have tons of experience in each, but their understanding and conscious comprehension has acted as a profound contributing factor to their musicianship, and each of them clearly demonstrate that in lessons and interviews.
Last edited by juckfush at May 26, 2011,
#33
Quote by Sn0wM1s3r
I understand, but I just feel like you have more of a soulful connection with your music if you don't try to play it perfect everytime you play it. It's like how people say Jimi Hendrix never played Voodoo Child twice the same way, he did that on purpose. Steve Vai with the song he wrote For The Love Of God he says he can't play the ascending scale part in the song perfect like how it was recorded and it frustrates him that he can't. You see what I mean, like?..


What exactly do you think theory is?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#34
Quote by AlanHB
What exactly do you think theory is?


A way of grasping the concept of the way music is made in a structured way.
#35
Quote by Sn0wM1s3r
A way of grasping the concept of the way music is made in a structured way.


and that's bad how? if you think theory has less expression, listen to this.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MiPcbx7TyM4

then tell me theory (even quite mathematical theory) isn't expressive.
#36
Quote by Sn0wM1s3r
A way of grasping the concept of the way music is made in a structured way.


How did not knowing this allow these musicians you mentioned be able to play a song slightly differently?
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#37
Quote by Sn0wM1s3r
I understand, but I just feel like you have more of a soulful connection with your music if you don't try to play it perfect everytime you play it. It's like how people say Jimi Hendrix never played Voodoo Child twice the same way, he did that on purpose. Steve Vai with the song he wrote For The Love Of God he says he can't play the ascending scale part in the song perfect like how it was recorded and it frustrates him that he can't. You see what I mean, like?..

Yes, but Jimi also has a more laid back personality than Vai...

You're starting to mix personality and knowledge up.
#38
Except Hendrix did know some theory. You will never play the guitar without picking up any music theory. Sorry kids, sometimes you have to put effort into what you do.
Quote by UtBDan
this man hits the nail on the head.
#39
Quote by Sn0wM1s3r
Anyone can be as good or better than he was at learning and playing by ear. It's not like he jumped out the womb with a guitar in his hands. It just takes time. Just like learning theory.



But he did come out of the womb with something -- or it was gained early in life before he picked up a guitar -- I suppose the jury is out on that question in general.

Either way, some people are just more musical. Hendrix had quite a lot of natural talent. According to Chas Chandler he happened to follow that up with almost relentless practice.

There are plenty of people who play guitar relentlessly and have youtube videos of their finger gymnastics and are about as creative as belly button lint. Some even have record deals and fans .. I won't mention any names ... but these are people who work very hard and still suck ... unless you measure music in notes per second.
#40
Quote by CarsonStevens
People always say "Jimi Hendrix didn't need to know theory."

I always say, "Are you as good as Jimi Hendrix?"


Well, I'd say that most people can develop their ears just as Jimi did. And for those that can't.... theory isn't going to make too much of a difference. Mechanically stringing together concepts will only get you so far. Ultimately you have to listen.


Quote by blueriver
Except Hendrix did know some theory. You will never play the guitar without picking up any music theory. Sorry kids, sometimes you have to put effort into what you do.


so you're saying that it's possible to learn theory without studying it?
like if you play music on your instrument, play often, and listen, you'll learn to hear some of the concepts? I'll buy that, but if your goal is to promote the the idea of studying theory, you'd probably be better off using a different example.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at May 26, 2011,
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