#1
Sorry, just realised that its a bit long but if you read i will be really gratefull.I dont really understand music theory and when ever i try to learn from one of my books its just wierd disjointed sentences i dont understand at all and i feel i dont know anything at all about the theory.
Things i worry i should know and dont are:

1- listening to a song and saying "ah, yes, that is in the key of b minor" or crap like that.

2- using scales to form solos, Cos people say you HAVE to learn them then say, "oh but you dont use just the notes in the scale, throw in some other random notes too" then why bother learning a scale at all if your gonna **** about with it an change it into something you could've come up with on your own.

3- intervals, modes, major fifths, diminshed stuff... I honestly cannot tell you what any of these are. Not a clue, even when i read it like 10 times i think im starting to get it and then realise it makes no sense to me.

And this is just beginning to tell you how little i know, I dont even know the stuff i dont know! if you can understand that?

How much do I need to know this stuff?
BECAUSE i was thinking about the likes of Joe Perry who is my favourite guitar player. He took ONE guitar lesson and the guy died the next day, so from then on took NO guitar training and didnt really understand theory in the early days, BUT he had Brad Whitford. So if Joe F'ing Perry as he's often known get as far as he did without his theory, do I really need it or can i go down the Joe Perry path????

And i know im not Joe Perry and I dont have a Brad Whitford but is my logic correct?
Last edited by gary1991 at Jun 19, 2011,
#2
Could I spend the time i would waste on theory to just write my own material and become a more proficient player etc, and forget about the theory. I heard BB king is the same, he says he doesnt know any of it either so just stopped trying to learn it and just played and played.
Last edited by gary1991 at Jun 19, 2011,
#3
Long answer short:
You may very well be able become a good or even great guitarist without music theory. But you'd be even better with it.
#4
Quote by gary1991
Could I spend the time i would waste on theory to just write my own material and become a more proficient player etc, and forget about the theory. BB king is the same, he says he doesnt know any of it either so just stopped trying to learn it and just played and played.


BB king does know some theory, he even advises people to learn to read music. Does he know the 3 types of augmented 6th chords... probably not, he doesn;t need to, but he does know the basics such as knowing keys and major and minor scales.
#5
You're only doomed if you go to school for music (which is something that heckle you about non-stop). In a nutshell, music theory is one of those things that you should learn and then forget about it. It's always good to know some things, such as keys, scales and chords, but IMHO, anything beyond that is redundant
#6
True that. Generally if an accomplished musician claims not to know theory, they probably mean they don't know advanced music theory. As for the why should you learn scales if you can just add your own notes and be fine.... most guitar solos DON'T have notes out of the scale, and if they do, the person playing it probably knew some theory that showed them how to play out of key. I play notes that aren't in scale all the time. Music theory shows me how to do that and not sound like shit.

EDIT: By "most" I don't mean "almost all" by the way. I just mean, at least more than half.
Last edited by Macabre_Turtle at Jun 19, 2011,
#7
BB King knows a hell of a lot more theory than he lets on.

Anywhoo, theory is extremely useful: I learned about tritones in gypsy jazz just last night and a simple theory based idea has given me yet another thing to write songs with - I managed to write a B section to a song I have been trying to write for months. It can make a great guitarist a brilliant one, but you can get by without it.
they're coming to take me away
ha-haaa
#8
Quote by guitarman47
You're only doomed if you go to school for music (which is something that heckle you about non-stop). In a nutshell, music theory is one of those things that you should learn and then forget about it. It's always good to know some things, such as keys, scales and chords, but IMHO, anything beyond that is redundant


Only as redundant if you make it.
#9
I'm not going to get into a single argument over what musicians do know theory, how much theory they know and etc.. The bottom line is everybody is different from how we think, how we function creatively etc..

However, it only makes sense that if you further your knowledge on something you will most likely improve, and that applies to anything... hence this:

Quote by Macabre_Turtle
Long answer short:
You may very well be able become a good or even great guitarist without music theory. But you'd be even better with it.



#11
Quote by guitarman47
You're only doomed if you go to school for music (which is something that heckle you about non-stop). In a nutshell, music theory is one of those things that you should learn and then forget about it. It's always good to know some things, such as keys, scales and chords, but IMHO, anything beyond that is redundant


If you find it redundant, it's because YOU didn''t understand it and couldn't apply what you 'learnt'.
#12
You CAN learn theory.
If i can do it, anyone can. Seriously it's not THAT hard.

Not alot of people can listen to a song and tell you the key straight away, maybe some can but most can't.

Learning scales just helps you know where the notes are, you shouldn't base entire solos on scale "shapes" or "boxs". i.e scales are more like a reference, the shapes help you when your lost.
As for "random notes" they probably mean accidentals or a chomatic run, you don't need to get into that right now but later it will help.

However you will at least need to know the Major Scale for chord construction (Don't worry, it's easier than it sounds)

Don't bother with Modes just yet, they are just a helpful little cherry on the top of the giant ice cream that is music theory.

Intervals are really easy to understand, here a website with some lessons (scroll down untill you see the Intervals section):
http://www.musictheory.net/lessons

UG has a pretty good column called the Crusade, check on that for some theory, it's pretty easy to understand from that.

Major 5ths & 'diminished stuff' will come in later when you learn about Intervals & chord construction, they are easy to understand.

All in all, you don't NEED theory but it certainly helps a shitload. Especially if you want to get in a band or write songs, it saves a lot of fumbling in the dark.
Last edited by SumFX at Jun 19, 2011,
#13
Quote by SumFX

Major 5ths & 'diminished stuff'



I couldn't take a single thing you said seriously after i saw you wrote this, please don't tell me you 'know theory' ..
#14
I think Iv spent the best part of about an hour trying to learn theory, gave up and it doesnt bother me at all.

Some people are disappointed when they cant explain their music but at the end of the day if your music sounds good then who is anyone else to tell you otherwise?
#15
You can like my friend who knows no theory except for solfege(he's good at it)

But if you're like me, I mostly depend on theory to tell me what I can do in a song and helps me loads because I haven't trained my ear too much yet.

So it's useful if you have it
Last edited by gothblade at Jun 19, 2011,
#16
Quote by gary1991
Sorry, just realised that its a bit long but if you read i will be really gratefull.I dont really understand music theory and when ever i try to learn from one of my books its just wierd disjointed sentences i dont understand at all and i feel i dont know anything at all about the theory.


You don't need to know any theory. I feel it's useful, and there are a lot of things musically that you'll never get, or follow or understand without it. But you can certainly join the millions who will never touch theory in their lives and get by fine. Do what seems best for you.

Sean
#17
Quote by Zeppelin Addict
I couldn't take a single thing you said seriously after i saw you wrote this, please don't tell me you 'know theory' ..


I was just quoting what he said in his first post
I don't want to confuse him too much, he will figure all his problems out, whether that be actual theory or just terminology when he gets into it, but for now he just needs a gentle push to get into the mood for learning.

No need to be a bitch, sheesh.
#20
Quote by SumFX
I was just quoting what he said in his first post
I don't want to confuse him too much, he will figure all his problems out, whether that be actual theory or just terminology when he gets into it, but for now he just needs a gentle push to get into the mood for learning.

No need to be a bitch, sheesh.


"major 5th"?

Quote by guitarman47
You're only doomed if you go to school for music (which is something that heckle you about non-stop). In a nutshell, music theory is one of those things that you should learn and then forget about it. It's always good to know some things, such as keys, scales and chords, but IMHO, anything beyond that is redundant


doomed if you go to school? oh, shit, i'm doomed, then, because i can write an entire symphony in classical/modern/free form! oh, dear, what am i going to do...

redundancy is indicative of failure to comprehend and/or apply.

TS, as far as your question goes, listen to everyone who says "you can become a great guitarist without theory, but you'll be even better with it". that's the simple truth.
Anfangen ist leicht, Beharren eine Kunst.
#21
Quote by Zanon
Ask yourself, what is the benefit of NOT knowing any ?

I'm going to play devil's advocate here and say the number of hours invested into learning theory/learning how to apply it could be invested into just playing or writing.

OP, if you really don't want to learn theory you don't have to, but it doesn't take too long to learn, say, how to harmonize the major scale/understand keys. And that stuff helps a TON. It's definitely worth the invested time imo.
#22
Quote by -TM-
I'm going to play devil's advocate here and say the number of hours invested into learning theory/learning how to apply it could be invested into just playing or writing.

OP, if you really don't want to learn theory you don't have to, but it doesn't take too long to learn, say, how to harmonize the major scale/understand keys. And that stuff helps a TON. It's definitely worth the invested time imo.



thats why I study theory on the bus, on my lunch break, on holiday, late at night, basically whenever i cant play guitar. It amazes me how many people dont learn theory because they think they are sacrificing practise time but still manage hours on UG everyday.
#23
Quote by gary1991
Sorry, just realised that its a bit long but if you read i will be really gratefull.I dont really understand music theory and when ever i try to learn from one of my books its just wierd disjointed sentences i dont understand at all and i feel i dont know anything at all about the theory.
Things i worry i should know and dont are:

1- listening to a song and saying "ah, yes, that is in the key of b minor" or crap like that.

2- using scales to form solos, Cos people say you HAVE to learn them then say, "oh but you dont use just the notes in the scale, throw in some other random notes too" then why bother learning a scale at all if your gonna **** about with it an change it into something you could've come up with on your own.

3- intervals, modes, major fifths, diminshed stuff... I honestly cannot tell you what any of these are. Not a clue, even when i read it like 10 times i think im starting to get it and then realise it makes no sense to me.

And this is just beginning to tell you how little i know, I dont even know the stuff i dont know! if you can understand that?

How much do I need to know this stuff?
BECAUSE i was thinking about the likes of Joe Perry who is my favourite guitar player. He took ONE guitar lesson and the guy died the next day, so from then on took NO guitar training and didnt really understand theory in the early days, BUT he had Brad Whitford. So if Joe F'ing Perry as he's often known get as far as he did without his theory, do I really need it or can i go down the Joe Perry path????

And i know im not Joe Perry and I dont have a Brad Whitford but is my logic correct?


Do you need to know the mechanics of how a car runs to drive it? No...
Same with theory. You do not need to know theory in order to play guitar. You have to decide for yourself really. Some ppl need it and think it is great, and some people do not.
#24
Quote by Appetite_4_GNR
Do you need to know the mechanics of how a car runs to drive it? No...
Same with theory. You do not need to know theory in order to play guitar. You have to decide for yourself really. Some ppl need it and think it is great, and some people do not.

That's a poor analogy, it fits as far as guitar maintrenance goes but has no correlation with what's being discussed here.

If you're driving somewhere and you only know one way to get there what happens if the road is blocked?

You don't have to know all the possible routes to your destination, but it certainly helps to have at least one alternative if your usual route is unavailable. Or you might simply want to go a different way purely for shits and giggles to keep things interesting. And whilst I'll admit that exploring and discovering new places is fun, it's not so much fun if you actually have to get somewhere.
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#25
I think the reason people are reluctant to learn theory is because it feels like you're reverting to beginner status by learning something new. Like in an instant, you're going from a quite good theory-illiterate, to a complete beginner theory-literate. That's absurd, but I think that might be what's going on subconsciously.

Knowing more can only help you. Learning techniques will give you ideas you'd have never had otherwise. Before I learned theory, I kept going through the same patterns of notes because I hadn't been shown any others. It'll help you communicate with other musicians, work out melodies you imagine, and make sense of what you're writing and playing. And it'll open up a new thing to appreciate about music - I'm not hugely knowledgeable about theory, but I do love hearing music that does something unconventional and makes it work.
I'LL PUNCH A DONKEY IN THE STREETS OF GALWAY
#26
I see it as entirely dependent on what you want to accomplish. Many thousands of guitar players are perfectly content to learn the minimum necessary to accompany songs or play simple rhythm to accompany others. They learn chords and strumming patterns.
That's it.
Nothing wrong with that at all... It's the "folk" tradition. If that's all you want to do, then no further training is necessary.
If you want to compose, have aspirations to become a studio musician, think of yourself as a "musician" in addition to being a "guitar player"..... Then likely you'll benefit from some additional study.
And in some areas, it's absolutely necessary.
#27
You can learn theory. You just need the right approach and the right teacher. I taught myself, initially... and lacked the experience to know I was making mistakes. I also created a lot of "happy accidents" - I took stuff to my instructor that I'd written prior to taking lessons and I wish I had a dollar for every time he said, "That's... unusual. It works, but it's unusual."

I made a lot of progress having someone available to point out my mistakes.

Anyway, you may be starting too "big". When I first started learning theory (out of a piano book, no less), I kept getting the I, IV, V chords of a key confused with the 1, 3, 5, of a chord. But, I figured it out eventually. It just takes time and guidance.

You can, and should, make the effort... not just say "oh well, I can't master it in five minutes, may as well not even try and just do without."
#28
perhaps its just the basic thing of..if i can play 5 chords without anyone telling me how...i can play 10..

some people are not interested in "knowing" how something works..they put several chords together some words..volia..a valid song..and you can team up with several others who play various instruments..and now you have a band..depending on many factors..you may even be able to pay the rent with your music..will you become a major band with hit songs and tours and live in malibu...it can happen..but you may also just be the "house band" and the "boom-boom room" every friday..and have to work a boring day job..

so it comes down to you..are you the next joe perry..only if there is a band called "nextsmith" willing to hire you..

the fact that learning theory may open some doors to your learning music that you will not find on your own..no matter how long you play..at some point you HAVE to absorbe some theory..like it or not..and that can be very fustrating..like trying to read a book but you only know 10 words...

play well

wolf
#29
1. Can you imagine the music you want to make?

2. Can you find those notes and chords on the fretboard, or the keyboard, or on the stave of music software?

3. Do that.
#30
You're not completely doomed. You might just look dumb if you are talking with other guitarists and you don't know what they are talking about...

Dave Grohl doesn't know theory, and he's basically honored js...

EDIT: #2 might make some problems for you. At least learn E or A Minor Pentonic(sp) scale.
Last edited by yoman297 at Jun 21, 2011,
#31
Honestly, you don't need it but it is good to learn. I find myself lost whenever I try to read it lol... Just learn all the notes on your fretboard. and scales lol lotes of scales...
#32
Quote by El_Lobo_1
I find myself lost whenever I try to read it lol.


That's the number one reason that I think people don't learn theory or those that try to, ultimately abandon it.

In my opinion and they way I incidentally teach it, it begins basic and builds upon things in ways that are easy to follow, assumes upon very little pre-existing knowledge, and manages to connect all the dots, anticipating the needs and potential areas for confusion, along with an active, responsive feedback/help system.

Theory is traditionally made as interesting as stale bread.

Sean