Poll: Do you play "Dumb"?
Poll Options
View poll results: Do you play "Dumb"?
Yes, I play mostly by hearing and experiance
20 61%
No, I play mostly by knowlage of music theory and technique
13 39%
Voters: 33.
Page 1 of 2
#1
I'm one of those players who really can't wrap their head around reading sheet music, the circle of fifths, music theory, etc. But this has never presented a problem to me. I have been told that I'm a good player and songwriter, who knows his way around the guitar (and any other instrument that I play), and can make songs interesting. Basically, I use and invent styles, theory's, and techniques that good musicians use, without even knowing it! I know what sounds good, and what makes a good song. I know how to make people feel certain emotions in my songs. I know how to modify chords to make them sound better. But I know this by hearing, and experience.

I just want to know who else plays "dumb" here. I know many famous guitarists played like this as well, so I know I'm not alone, but it would be interesting to see how many people play this way.
#2
I 'play dumb' but I can usually keep up with my friends that go by knowledge and books and all that, they just have more technical ways of saying the same thing I am.
Quote by Nomack
Next hendrix is like a a sidesplitting triumph of slapstick and scatology, a runaway moneymaker and budding franchise, the worst thing to happen to Kazakhstan since the Mongol hordes, and, a communist.


This is my sig!
#3
If you don't want to learn music theory, don't. You don't have to come to a music theory forum to announce it.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#4
This is the equivalent of me going to a forum dedicated to Schenkerian analysis and saying "I get along fine without converting to the Schenkerian method of analyzing music, go me!"

Amount of people who care = Zero.
#5
Quote by griffRG7321
This is the equivalent of me going to a forum dedicated to Schenkerian analysis and saying "I get along fine without converting to the Schenkerian method of analyzing music, go me!"

Amount of people who care = Zero.


But dude, he invents theorys, styles and techniques that other people use! He's a trendsetter.
#7
initially I learned guitar without learning any theory besides knowing scale and chord names/shapes. then, i began studying music theory in school, and my compositional skills and guitar proficiency/fluency went through the roof. I definitely wish I had started earlier. What I'm saying is don't brush off learning theory because you think you don't need to. stay humble
#8
Quote by jtguitarplaya9
I'm one of those players who really can't wrap their head around reading sheet music, the circle of fifths, music theory, etc. But this has never presented a problem to me. I have been told that I'm a good player and songwriter, who knows his way around the guitar (and any other instrument that I play), and can make songs interesting. Basically, I use and invent styles, theory's, and techniques that good musicians use, without even knowing it! I know what sounds good, and what makes a good song. I know how to make people feel certain emotions in my songs. I know how to modify chords to make them sound better. But I know this by hearing, and experience.

I just want to know who else plays "dumb" here. I know many famous guitarists played like this as well, so I know I'm not alone, but it would be interesting to see how many people play this way.



If you're happy doing what you're doing great, but don't call it dumb. It takes an intelligent mind to play guitar by ear. At some point you might actually become interested in music theory and that will give you even more to work with.
shred is gaudy music
#9
Well, if you can play anything that's not atonal I'm sure you know something about music theory.

Maybe all those "styles" and "theories" you make are just you "discovering" things that music theory already covers.
Maybe not, but studying MT would only improve your knowledge of the area and your creativity for sure (correctly studying it of course)

But then, studying MT could be a burden to you (lack of free time, or it may not motivate you, etc), maybe even an unnecessary one (if you were to "discover" everything there is to MT), so if you feel good doing what you are doing, then go for it


EDIT: Ehmm, sorry for totally disregarding your question lol.

But no, I don't "play dumb" (like GuitarMunky said above is not a good term at all); mostly because I don't "play" like most of you guys do. As in, I don't improvise and write rock songs and the like.
Or I play music already written, or I compose music on my own (some of it using the guitar), so I don't know if your question applies to me
Last edited by gonzaw at Oct 20, 2011,
#10
I'll learn theory after I write a few songs, and see how much of a difference it made. I don't want to do it now because I'm afraid I will unconsciously use things from music theory to compose a song, and right now I just want to see what I can do without it.
#11
When I started learning guitar I didn't know/learn any theory. I only started learning theory after 1 year from when I picked up the guitar. Learning theory actually helped me improve quite a bit. In addition, I can understand why this sounds like this or that sounds like that. But if you're doing well without music theory or if you do not want to do it, you don't have to do it.

#12
Quote by zomgguitarz1234
I'll learn theory after I write a few songs, and see how much of a difference it made. I don't want to do it now because I'm afraid I will unconsciously use things from music theory to compose a song, and right now I just want to see what I can do without it.

In a general sense if you write a song and it sounds even remotely passable as a song you're unconsciously using things from music theory. Really all theory does is describe how the sound functions. Even if your song is 3 powerchords theres theory describing why it sounds good
#13
He's using things from his unconsciously-developed understanding of theory. Experience could be thought of as personal theory. To a large extent it will agree with written theory. If he wrote down what he knew he'd find it had already been done. Learning theory bypasses some of the years of trial and error you'd otherwise have to spend reinventing the wheel.
#14
i wonder where this is going.....

HENDRIX BLA BLA BLA BLA!!!!!
#15
Quote by AlanHB
If you don't want to learn music theory, don't. You don't have to come to a music theory forum to announce it.



It was my understanding that this is the "Musician Talk" forum, or do you need know theory in order to be a musician? Could you please clarify this for me.
I'm the only player to be sponsered by 7 guitar companies not to use their products.
#16
OP, you don't need theory, only failed artists like Bach and Coltrane knew theory, and look how they ended up...


They ended up dead.
Last edited by Keth at Oct 20, 2011,
#17
Two of the most influencial jazz guitarists in history had very little formal knowlege of theory, Django Reinhardt and Wes Montgomery, but it was said by their contemporaries that they had a certain innate natural understanding of it.

It may not be nesscesaty to learn it but it sure makes playing and writing easier. As someone here said already, no need to keep reinventing the wheel.
I'm the only player to be sponsered by 7 guitar companies not to use their products.
#18
Quote by BlackbirdPie
It was my understanding that this is the "Musician Talk" forum, or do you need know theory in order to be a musician? Could you please clarify this for me.


The forum is primarily dedicated to the discussion of music theory. If it was anything more general it would be filled with threads like "when do you like playing music?" and "am I a musician" and other great deep topics.

Threads like these really are like going to a forum dedicated to English, then announcing that you're doing just fine at English without taking any English lessons.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#19
Quote by AlanHB
The forum is primarily dedicated to the discussion of music theory. If it was anything more general it would be filled with threads like "when do you like playing music?" and "am I a musician" and other great deep topics.

Threads like these really are like going to a forum dedicated to English, then announcing that you're doing just fine at English without taking any English lessons.



Yes, I see your point. Thank you.

And yess I du ok at engrish alrite taking without any lesons lol.
I'm the only player to be sponsered by 7 guitar companies not to use their products.
#20
As to the poll: the second choice is useless and weak without heavy reliance upon the first while the first is helped along by the second.
#21
Without proper understanding it becomes difficult to communicate some musical ideas unless you develop a different vermacular. Some music theory understanding can simplify this immensely and give you a much greater understanding of what exactly you're doing.

No music theory, playing by ear and descriptive words

"Hey dude, play this chord"
"Yo, what chord is it?"
"This one, it goes 4 on the 6th string, 4 on the 5th, 6 on the 4th, 6th on the 3rd, 4 on the 2nd, and 4 on the 1st string."
"Like this?"
"Uhh, no, like this, *Plays chord*"
"Oh, I got it"
"Yup, thats it"

People who know even slight music theory

"Hey, try this Absus4"
"Oh man, thats cool. Lets follow it with Adimaddb12"

Many sentences to figure out a simple chord compared to two sentances with more creative process involved. I'd much rather take the latter.

That said, you should have a combination of both, but theory is only the explanation of music. Such as if someone played a chord that should resolve to another tone, and I choose to end on a different tone.

Did I just break theory? No, I just followed a deceptive cadence.

Even "Stupid" () scales can be described by theory, such as if you followed 12-14-15 up all the strings. Chuck Schuldiner did that in a few songs, but if you analyze it with theory you would realize that its a minor scale that utilizes accidentals relative to every octave.
#22
If you're playing by "hearing", you're using music theory. You just don't know it.

One of the first songs I wrote, before I even knew what keys and scales were, was done completely by me just dicking around and working with chords that I thought sounded good together. When I brought it to my instructor, he told me it was in A-Minor.

And to expand on what Life Is Brutal just said, I've only ever been to two jams. At the first one, I brought my bass ('cause nobody ever does, so it's basically guaranteed that you'll be able to sit in on a song), and getting the guys to explain to me what they were doing so that I could play along was like pulling teeth. On a chicken.

Typical conversation would go something like this:

Other Guy: "Let's play 'As I Lay Here Bleeding'."

Me: "I don't know that one."

Other guy "It goes like this:" (widdly widdly widdly)

Me: "Great. What's the chord progression?"

Other Guy: ...

Me: "Okay, show me what you're doing. Slowly."

Other Guy: (does)

Me: Got it. Let's go.

***

How it should have gone:

Other Guy: "Let's play 'I'm so Goth, I'm dead.'"

Me: "I don't know that one. How's it go?"

Other Guy: "It's a I IV V IV in E."

Me: "Got it."
Last edited by CarsonStevens at Oct 20, 2011,
#23
I tell people I don't know anything about theory because people call me a pretentious douche for playing a 6 string bass already

but really, I don't necessarily go to theory for inspiration unless I'm doing a serious composition, but it's helped me so much I can't imagine playing anything without it anymore.
modes are a social construct
#25
Im new... 2 years into this. I took 4-5 years of piano as a kid so I reallly have a leg up on theory and I feel its helped my playing and learning.

I NEVER think about theory when I play. My focus is on hitting the notes, staying in rhythm and just sounding decent.

That being said I love theory, because its like a puzzle coming together for me. I love to play something that sounds good (duh) but I also love understanding why it sounds good. It also keeps me thinking about music when Im not playing
he of tranquil mind
#26
Quote by Hail
I tell people I don't know anything about theory because people call me a pretentious douche for playing a 6 string bass already


They call you pretentious because you know theory and play a 6 string bass? Thats the biggest load of bullshit I've ever seen.

If I knew someone who could play a 6 string bass, they would literally be my best friend.
#28
Where is the option C for 'I know loads of theory but pretend I don't because it's mystical and stuff'

Or D for 'I actually know loads of theory but I just don't realise it. I believe I actually invented everything I have learned and no one has ever done it before me'
#29
Quote by NorthernPaul
Where is the option C for 'I know loads of theory but pretend I don't because it's mystical and stuff'




I live in Texas and am in the metal scene - it's to a point where it's just easier to tab something out and send it to them ahead of time than to try and outline a progression.

Lots of drop-d/c "bass is just for the sake of being there" people.
modes are a social construct
#30
Quote by Hail


I live in Texas and am in the metal scene - it's to a point where it's just easier to tab something out and send it to them ahead of time than to try and outline a progression.

Lots of drop-d/c "bass is just for the sake of being there" people.


That sucks. The bass should be just as important as both guitars put together...
#31
When I'm fooling around I mostly play diatonic chords and sometimes a borrowed chord.
When I suddenly get an idea it's mostly in a scale but I don't use the scale when I get that idea.
#32
Can you not do both?
Danelectro 1959 reissue

Quote by G.Krizzel
Music is just wiggly air. Accept it or leave it.


Also please visit this thread and help me tab out an album!!!
thread.
#33
Couple of additional comments:

Look, clearly there are people who have made great music without being very educated in formal theory.

Ultimately, I think what it comes down to, for me, is this:

I don't know anyone who hasn't gotten substantially better at creating music by putting some time and effort into their core musicianship skills - ear training, theoretical knowledge, etc.

If you say you've created good music without it, more power to you. What I would ask you is - why do you think that learning more won't help you create even better music?

Clearly there are highly-educated people who can't create good music. That just happens.

The question I have for the OP or anyone else is - what do you think you'd lose by learning some theory? Why do you think this toolset, which has clearly helped so many other musicians improve the quality of what they create, won't help you?
#34
Theory is like a guidebook: you use it when you're lost and it can make things simple.


That's how I approach it. When I'm writing I don't think about all the theory side until afterwards when maybe I'm considering what overdubs I want etc.
#35
Quote by AlanHB
The forum is primarily dedicated to the discussion of music theory. If it was anything more general it would be filled with threads like "when do you like playing music?" and "am I a musician" and other great deep topics.

Threads like these really are like going to a forum dedicated to English, then announcing that you're doing just fine at English without taking any English lessons.



Um dude, I AM talking about music theory. I'm talking about how I don't have formal knowledge, and asking if anyone else plays the same way I do.
#36
Quote by HotspurJr
Couple of additional comments:

Look, clearly there are people who have made great music without being very educated in formal theory.

Ultimately, I think what it comes down to, for me, is this:

I don't know anyone who hasn't gotten substantially better at creating music by putting some time and effort into their core musicianship skills - ear training, theoretical knowledge, etc.

If you say you've created good music without it, more power to you. What I would ask you is - why do you think that learning more won't help you create even better music?

Clearly there are highly-educated people who can't create good music. That just happens.

The question I have for the OP or anyone else is - what do you think you'd lose by learning some theory? Why do you think this toolset, which has clearly helped so many other musicians improve the quality of what they create, won't help you?


Well the thing is, I tried to learn, and It goes in one ear and out the other no matter how hard I try. I will never give up on it, but for now it's more of a waste of time and brainpower and interferes with my music. But obviously I know basic scales and chords and stuff. Just not complicated scales, the circle of fifths, sheet music, etc.
#37
Quote by jtguitarplaya9
Um dude, I AM talking about music theory. I'm talking about how I don't have formal knowledge, and asking if anyone else plays the same way I do.


I'm only pointing out what the purpose of the thread is. You said yourself it's a "waste of time and brainpower" to learn music theory, in a music theory forum. This effectively made my prediction come true.

I'm not using this to bag you out - many people play/create music without knowledge of music theory. But if you're looking for support in your quest to not learn more, see below:


Gratz! You've done it!
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#38
I know some theory, and such, but my experience is where most of my skill comes from. I listen to chords and try to target the notes(my ear is good enough to be able to discern which degree of the scale I'm using to play the chord is asking for most of the time). But i usually understand what I'm doing, just not right as I'm doing it.
#39
Quote by jtguitarplaya9
Well the thing is, I tried to learn, and It goes in one ear and out the other no matter how hard I try. I will never give up on it, but for now it's more of a waste of time and brainpower and interferes with my music. But obviously I know basic scales and chords and stuff. Just not complicated scales, the circle of fifths, sheet music, etc.


I suspect that this is because you're learning it in the wrong way - without learning it in the context of learning to hear it.

Could be wrong. But music theory is really hard to learn divorced from the music itself.
#40
On one hand, there are plenty of examples in history of successful artists who are not well-versed in the field of music. My prime is example is (surprise!) Pink Floyd. Waters, Mason and Gilmour were not *incredibly* knowledgeable in terms of music--not to say they hadn't studied at all, of course. Rick Wright was often referred to as the "educated" one in the group. And I would consider them a very successfully group, especially for having only one "expert" member.

That being said, unless you have some sort of natural ability to play music without prior knowledge, learning a little theory on the side is never a terrible thing, in my humble opinion.

I went for about 5 years playing guitar and never learned any theory. I did alright, sure. Knew my major and minor scales, what-have-you. But I never truly understood them. Once that concept hit me, I was able to break my old boundaries and become a more creative writer.

Hope you don't mind my rant too awful much, just my two cents on the matter.
Quote by Trowzaa
I wish I was American.

~ A Rolling Potato Gathers No Moss ~
Page 1 of 2