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#1
This question is probably on here somewhere, many times, but what is more important, knowing music theory up to your a**, or experimenting with being emotionful.

I personally think that the greatest music is made of 30% knowledge/skill, 40% emotion, and 60% trial & error.


...pretend that equals 100%
That's a Bingo!!! Is that the way you say it? "Thats's a bingo?"

-Cols. Hans Landa AKA The Jew Hunter,
Inglourious Basterds
#2
How about having a excellent understanding of music and putting 100% emotion into your music...
#3
Yes if you learn a lot about a subject you lose the ability to create it.

For this reason you should not learn music theory.

But I wouldn't stop there. Apply it to all things in your every day life. The reason that the cure for cancer hasn't been found is because scientists are all heavily educated in diseases and such, when they really need somebody uneducated like you to create a more creative solution for them. Additionally the reason that a lot of law cases fail is because lawyers have too much knowledge of the law and straight apply it, whilst you would be able to appeal to the emotional side of the judge, and allow him to ignore the laws in relation to the area. Additionally the reason that a lot of books don't sell well is because the authors have relied on tried and true methods of creating good pieces, when you should really just write an entire book in leetspeak, have doodles on the page and make it experimental writing instead for a true masterpiece to be written.

If I were you I'd even stop using your fingers to play the guitar. It's just techniques used by other people. Use your elbow to get a unique tone.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#4
Well.... interesting perspective, but innovation is part imitation and part experimentation. Take Eddie Van Halen for example. He didn't invent tapping, but he certainly made it his own. Stevie Ray Vaughn emulated some essence of Hendrix but put his own palying style and soul into it as well.

But, AlanHB, I do believe you are correct to a point: too much knowledge CAN be a vice. Then again, look at Steve Vai...
That's a Bingo!!! Is that the way you say it? "Thats's a bingo?"

-Cols. Hans Landa AKA The Jew Hunter,
Inglourious Basterds
#5
I dont know if thew doctor is a good analogy because cancer etc. is very complicated physiologically and if you dont understand basic cellular and advanced concepts the cure rates for certain cancers wouldnt have gotten any better,(colon cancer for example. I think you need to understand your science/art extremely well yet not be afraid to "step out on the ledge" in the constructs of what you understand. Experiment on the fringe of what is understood and greatness will follow, but what the hell do I know!
#6
why do you have to pick?

cant you put emotion into your playing with knowledge of theory?
use thoery as a why not a how
and experiment with breaking the rules
#8
Whichever works better for you as a musician, is what I would say. I kind of have a sort of balance leaning towards experimentation, but knowing very very basic theory. I mean some guys make great music with no theory knowledge at all, and some guys make it with all the theory you can cram in one persons brain. I see it more as an open thing, kinda.
#9
Quote by Kraig82
This question is probably on here somewhere, many times, but what is more important, knowing music theory up to your a**, or experimenting with being emotionful.

I personally think that the greatest music is made of 30% knowledge/skill, 40% emotion, and 60% trial & error.


...pretend that equals 100%



What's more important to one person may be less important to someone else.

I don't see the point in your formulas.... there is no way to be accurate there. There is nothing to be gained other than being able to convince yourself you got it all figured out.

Just play your guitar, and study n stuff.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Jun 5, 2011,
#10
I look at it this way: someone who doesn't know music theory will spend hours playing with various chords, putting them together in different ways until he/she gets the sound they want.

Someone who knows music theory will already know how to get the sound they want, and skip hours of frustration.

Doodling for hours without knowing what you're doing is not being emotional. It's being lazy and wasting time.

It's not that music theory should be used as a tool, because it isn't one, really. It just avoids a lot of needless trial and error. Nobody wants to watch some guy trying to play in key at an open jam by playing random notes until it sounds good.
#11
Quote by Kraig82
Well.... interesting perspective, but innovation is part imitation and part experimentation. Take Eddie Van Halen for example. He didn't invent tapping, but he certainly made it his own. Stevie Ray Vaughn emulated some essence of Hendrix but put his own palying style and soul into it as well.

But, AlanHB, I do believe you are correct to a point: too much knowledge CAN be a vice. Then again, look at Steve Vai...

i think he was being sarcastic.

the more you know the better. it doesn't take away from the emotion...music theory is just fancy words for everything you can do with sound. its also useful in finding out what it is an artist did to make their music sound the way it does (find out what fancy words apply how to certain sounds and imitate it), then your own experimentation can make it unique. but experimentation falls into theory terms too, and if it doesn't, you discovered something new and they need more fancy words to explain it. basically, if you have a good ear and you're creative enough, you can make the same music with or without knowing theory, if you don't have a good ear or you can't come up with musical pieces in your head, you need theory to train yourself to understand music, then it will just start coming out. its hard to put into words...my brother is in some pretty advanced jazz guitar courses in college right now, he knows a lot, its crazy the big words he can throw at music, but in his band, they just play, they all know great theory but they don't use it. still, they probably wouldn't have been able to create the music they make if they never knew theory in the first place.
#12
Quote by Mud Martian
I look at it this way: someone who doesn't know music theory will spend hours playing with various chords, putting them together in different ways until he/she gets the sound they want.

Someone who knows music theory will already know how to get the sound they want, and skip hours of frustration.

Doodling for hours without knowing what you're doing is not being emotional. It's being lazy and wasting time.

It's not that music theory should be used as a tool, because it isn't one, really. It just avoids a lot of needless trial and error. Nobody wants to watch some guy trying to play in key at an open jam by playing random notes until it sounds good.



^ a common misconception. The truth is, trial and error is always part of it.

And people that study theory do not necessarily already know how to get the sound they want. Like it or not, doodling is part of it, whether your doodling your favorite song, or the fanciest worded theoretical concept you could look up.

I'd say the thing that makes the biggest difference between good and bad players is the ability to listen. If you don't do that it doesn't really matter how much theory you know.
shred is gaudy music
#13
I definitely encourage experimentation. However, most people throw this word without much of a thought. If we think about a scientific experiment, there is a hypothesis and then a methodical approach while documenting and analyzing the results. Experimentation should be as much about logical procedures as it is about intuition.

The most influential composers are essentially self experimenters, but it's all done very meticulously and methodically.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#14
Quote by Kraig82
But, AlanHB, I do believe you are correct to a point: too much knowledge CAN be a vice. Then again, look at Steve Vai...


I was being sarcastic, guess tone doesn't work well over the internet.

In the end, all music theory does is take the guesswork out of the equation. That's what knowledge is.

I'm an active musician in my area, and often have to write new parts for songs I haven't heard before. To do this, my approach is:

1. Listen to song.
2. Identify key and chords.
3. Apply knowledge of scales to create a part for the song.

Without music theory the approach would be:

1. Listen to song
2. Trial and error with chords keys and scales until I create a part.

With music theory I'm simply able to create my part faster. I'll most likely end with the same result as well. I'm still creating the music dude, I choose the notes, not theory.

It's only those who do not know music theory that think that it somehow limits your playing. If I have a song in A minor, I play the scale of A minor. Does this mean I ONLY use the notes of A minor? Nope, the notes outside the A minor scale are called accidentals, and people use them ALL THE TIME. What does this mean in terms of limitation? It means that you can use ALL the notes, in ALL the keys.

There's only one place where the actual notes you play are limited, and that's when a song is in a mode.

Also what isn't limited is note choice and order, which is how you create music.

How fast can you create a good sounding lead line? I bet I can do it faster.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#15
hey man, knowledge comes from experimentation. infact all theory came from someone experimenting. so learn as much theory as you need, then try to figure out everything that theory doesn't explain, like different ways to attack notes, and things to change your tone.....
Quote by Dirk Gently
Some pieces are only meant to be played by people with six fingers on their fretting hand. Sorry.
#16
Quote by AlanHB
I was being sarcastic, guess tone doesn't work well over the internet.

In the end, all music theory does is take the guesswork out of the equation. That's what knowledge is.

I'm an active musician in my area, and often have to write new parts for songs I haven't heard before. To do this, my approach is:

1. Listen to song.
2. Identify key and chords.
3. Apply knowledge of scales to create a part for the song.

Without music theory the approach would be:

1. Listen to song
2. Trial and error with chords keys and scales until I create a part.

With music theory I'm simply able to create my part faster. I'll most likely end with the same result as well. I'm still creating the music dude, I choose the notes, not theory.

It's only those who do not know music theory that think that it somehow limits your playing. If I have a song in A minor, I play the scale of A minor. Does this mean I ONLY use the notes of A minor? Nope, the notes outside the A minor scale are called accidentals, and people use them ALL THE TIME. What does this mean in terms of limitation? It means that you can use ALL the notes, in ALL the keys.

There's only one place where the actual notes you play are limited, and that's when a song is in a mode.

Also what isn't limited is note choice and order, which is how you create music.

How fast can you create a good sounding lead line? I bet I can do it faster.


beautifully said.

listen, man, unless you're playing blues, adding emotion into your music is pure bullshit. the emotion doesn't come from you to be translated and put into the song, you CRAFT the emotion with your choice of timbre, harmony, and melody. i'll say it again -- you CRAFT it. if you want something sad, you CRAFT something sad. do you just feel sad and play something sad on the guitar? the true answer to this is no. you feel sad, you want to write a sad song, and so you write one. again. you craft it. though i can't say trial and error is never a part of it (nor that it should never be a part of it).

and, like munky said, listening is key. i've said it before, and i'll say it again:

knowing theory + good ears > only good ears > only knowing theory
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#17
Quote by AeolianWolf

unless you're playing blues, adding emotion into your music is pure bullshit.


...Que?
#18
Quote by AlanHB
Yes if you learn a lot about a subject you lose the ability to create it.

For this reason you should not learn music theory.

But I wouldn't stop there. Apply it to all things in your every day life. The reason that the cure for cancer hasn't been found is because scientists are all heavily educated in diseases and such, when they really need somebody uneducated like you to create a more creative solution for them. Additionally the reason that a lot of law cases fail is because lawyers have too much knowledge of the law and straight apply it, whilst you would be able to appeal to the emotional side of the judge, and allow him to ignore the laws in relation to the area. Additionally the reason that a lot of books don't sell well is because the authors have relied on tried and true methods of creating good pieces, when you should really just write an entire book in leetspeak, have doodles on the page and make it experimental writing instead for a true masterpiece to be written.

If I were you I'd even stop using your fingers to play the guitar. It's just techniques used by other people. Use your elbow to get a unique tone.


Music isn't medicine. Music isn't law. Music is more innate. Hence the need for education isn't as great as when the subject is outside-referenced. That is, if there's any talent in there to begin with.

I could cite examples of practical tasks where practitioners (those who DO) look down on theoreticians (those who TALK). But that would be just as pointless as this sarcastic and snobbish post.

In answer to the original post, the ability to play what you hear in your mind (mixed with a little trial and error) does a better job of making music than bookfuls of theory. Theory is a rationalisation, a description of music, not its source.
#19
Quote by Jehannum
Music isn't medicine. Music isn't law. Music is more innate. Hence the need for education isn't as great as when the subject is outside-referenced. That is, if there's any talent in there to begin with.

I could cite examples of practical tasks where practitioners (those who DO) look down on theoreticians (those who TALK). But that would be just as pointless as this sarcastic and snobbish post.


Well strangely enough the TS missed the sarcasm completely and agreed with it. This renders your point moot.

And it's not about the "need for education" it's about the "effectiveness of knowledge". The only difference is that people actually rely on scientists and lawyers, but not musicians. An ordinary Joe could probably become a pretty good surgeon if he tinkered around with enough bodies dead and alive, over time he'd get the idea. He'd become one a lot faster though if he studied the subject before hand rather than a trial and error approach.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#20
Quote by AlanHB
An ordinary Joe could probably become a pretty good surgeon if he tinkered around with enough bodies dead and alive, over time he'd get the idea.


Ironically that's how I started my practice. It was great, even if I failed the surgery I'd then have a dead body to practice on. Win. Win.
#22
I would say this,
Theory explains the abstract nature of music which is understood intuitively by our ears and brain, it allows for a common language, much the same as math is used as a language in physics.

you don't have to know theory to make good music, and experimentation is important for pushing the limits, but saying that wouldn't you like to really understand the logic behind what you have just experimented.
#23
You're right about this thread being done before. There's one every week or two, and the replies are always the same.

Long story short, you have to decide whether theory is valuable to you and nobody here can tell you that. I personally find it to be a very valuable tool when composing and have no regret learning it. That being said, many people learn theory but never learn how to apply it - I don't even have an application for everything I've learnt, but I have an application for most of it.
#24
Quote by Jesse Clarkson
You're right about this thread being done before. There's one every week or two, and the replies are always the same.

Long story short, you have to decide whether theory is valuable to you and nobody here can tell you that. I personally find it to be a very valuable tool when composing and have no regret learning it. That being said, many people learn theory but never learn how to apply it -



+1 well said. Though I don't use it as a composing tool exactly. I use it as a tool for studying music. What I learn from studying gives me more to work when it comes time to be creative.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Jun 6, 2011,
#25
Damn, hell of a discussion... so i guess the old adage is true, "Knowledge is power"

I would like to thank everyone of you for your parts in this masterful conversation of music. It is very insightful to have several perspectives on this matter for future reference. Well done UGers, and I am most sincere.
That's a Bingo!!! Is that the way you say it? "Thats's a bingo?"

-Cols. Hans Landa AKA The Jew Hunter,
Inglourious Basterds
#26
50% Knowledge
80% Emotion
100% Trial and error
imo.
If you have all the knowledge in the world about music but you don't have a clue about what sounds good, its pointless.
Emotion is nescessary too. Or else most songs would sound extremely boring.
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#28
Duce, may I ask why? I understand emotion being put into Nirvana's music, but with the lack of skill present in their music, it's just not entertaining to me, i'm sorry.
That's a Bingo!!! Is that the way you say it? "Thats's a bingo?"

-Cols. Hans Landa AKA The Jew Hunter,
Inglourious Basterds
#29
Quote by griffRG7321
...Que?


i'm talking about people who just play pentatonic scales and throw in some bad bends and claim it's emotion.

you don't write music and then "put emotion into it". you realize that you want to evoke a certain feeling, and then you craft something that evokes a certain feeling. if i want to evoke a romantic feeling, i don't just bust out a slayer riff and play it like i want to make sweet love to my girlfriend. i write something that connotes that feeling. and then i expect the listener to react in a certain manner.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#30
Quote by AeolianWolf
i'm talking about people who just play pentatonic scales and throw in some bad bends and claim it's emotion.

you don't write music and then "put emotion into it". you realize that you want to evoke a certain feeling, and then you craft something that evokes a certain feeling. if i want to evoke a romantic feeling, i don't just bust out a slayer riff and play it like i want to make sweet love to my girlfriend. i write something that connotes that feeling. and then i expect the listener to react in a certain manner.


I was just curious as to why you said you could play emotionally with blues and nothing else. Although I'd change your last sentence to

I write something that means something to me, and then I expect the listener to react in a a similar manner.
#31
Quote by GuitarMunky
+1 well said. Though I don't use it as a composing tool exactly. I use it as a tool for studying music. What I learn from studying gives me more to work when it comes time to be creative.

Of course. I'm not trying to suggest that theory dictates the music that I compose.

Like AlanHB said:
"With music theory I'm simply able to create my part faster. I'll most likely end with the same result as well. I'm still creating the music dude, I choose the notes, not theory."
#32
Quote by Duce180
id rather listen to a nirvana album over any of steve vai's work


yeah me too, i'd defend theory to the hilt, i love it, but i'd much prefer to listen to guitarists who don't have that much theory than vai or anything like that....
#33
Quote by AlanHB

How fast can you create a good sounding lead line? I bet I can do it faster.

How would one take that bet exactly? Is it coming up with a mediocre line that is acceptable or would it be coming up with an awesome line? Is it one note or three? Maybe more? How many bars are we talking about here? Would it be one's own composition or a premade track to create lines on?

Just asking, cos I realise what you meant... but it came across as arrogant and being boastful (well, to me). If one were to challenge you, you might have to be up to the task and perform... audio clip or it didn't happen

As for the TS request... emotion is only what YOU play with... theory won't actually dictate what you should play. All it can do is tell you what you can play, and perhaps even tongue in cheek, because it (theory) is not YOU. Theory also has absolutely nothing to do with your songwriting ability... because theory can not write a song.
Last edited by evolucian at Jun 7, 2011,
#34
Quote by evolucian
Just asking, cos I realise what you meant... but it came across as arrogant and being boastful (well, to me). If one were to challenge you, you might have to be up to the task and perform... audio clip or it didn't happen


It's true, it came off as a bit wanky. It would be interesting to address such a challenge, maybe we'll arrange a guitar face-off in the US next year - give a chord progression to two guitarists, one with a knowledge of theory, one without and give them 5 minutes to create a part over is. Whatever is the "best sounding" can be left to audience vote

But at least I'm getting support for my main message - that theory provides guidelines for your music, but it doesn't write it for you. It just takes the guesswork out of the equation.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#35
Quote by AlanHB
It's true, it came off as a bit wanky. It would be interesting to address such a challenge, maybe we'll arrange a guitar face-off in the US next year - give a chord progression to two guitarists, one with a knowledge of theory, one without and give them 5 minutes to create a part over is. Whatever is the "best sounding" can be left to audience vote

But at least I'm getting support for my main message - that theory provides guidelines for your music, but it doesn't write it for you. It just takes the guesswork out of the equation.

But you're in Oz and I'm in SA... guess that excludes us... sniff

Yeah, your other stuff is supported but... there still is guesswork... its called creativity
#36
Quote by Kraig82
Duce, may I ask why? I understand emotion being put into Nirvana's music, but with the lack of skill present in their music, it's just not entertaining to me, i'm sorry.


Skill?

The average non-musician listener doesn't care about skill. They just like if it sounds good. We use terms like skill as guitarists to somehow validate what we do or what we think we do, its a measuring tool. skill like everything else, is subjective. One can argue that Steve Vai alienates listeners, I'm not saying guitarists, I'm saying listeners, the average dude that may not play an instrument. As such his abilities have a limited scope and appeal. While I appreciate Vai and his abilities, I've never cared much for him musically. Vai, is just Vai. It's his thing but it doesn't appeal to me.

We forget sometimes, that there's a whole world of others out there that are not guitarists that simply judge a piece on how it appeals and speaks and resonates with them. As guitarists we are simply a niche, and an overimpressed and small one at that.

Best,

Sean
#37
Quote by evolucian
But you're in Oz and I'm in SA... guess that excludes us... sniff

Yeah, your other stuff is supported but... there still is guesswork... its called creativity


Isn't SA closer to the US than Australia?

Edit:

And Sean I completely agree. A lot of people miss the "bigger picture" when listening to music.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#38
Quote by AlanHB
Isn't SA closer to the US than Australia?

Edit:

And Sean I completely agree. A lot of people miss the "bigger picture" when listening to music.

Hey, I'm not swimming there... and I think you go west, I go east... apparently 13 hours or something stupid like that... my patience level will not adhere to that... unless the air hostesses do lap dances and the stewards perv on the pilots
Last edited by evolucian at Jun 7, 2011,
#39
Quote by evolucian
Hey, I'm not swimming there... and I think you go west, I go east... apparently 13 hours or something stupid like that... my patience level will not adhere to that... unless the air hostesses do lap dances and the stewards perv on the pilots


Yeah must be a similar distance - Sydney to LA is 14 hours or so. Don't get flights much longer than that.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#40
this topic does loose its boundries...one of ted greens repeated suggestions: experiment!.. this of course was after you understood what you are experimenting with..its easier to put "sounds together" if you have some idea of the result...moving voices for example..finding the 3rd & b7th in dominate chords and just move them up and down a fret and hear how dramatic the change is and then fill in the rest of the chord to see if that works..but knowing where the 3rd & 7th are in a chord comes first..which may infer you know where the rest of the scale notes are..and if you do...finding any note will be much easier..going further..if you can build chord scales and know their inversions..yikes..you now have a sound library that can be used in just about any standard ever written..and if you play around with altered tones in chords and moving voices..yeah its called harmony and theory is a basic foundation for it..

can you do it without theory...yep...hendrix created lots of nice harmonic chord riffs and many other players do also..

would it be easier to do it with knowing theory...thus this discussion...and personal taste and appetite of wanting to know..

i feel more from albert king than steve vai..king could do far more with 3 notes than vai..but i want to know how vai does what he does...so for me the study of theory is worth the effort..

play well

wolf
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