#1
I've been playing for roughly 2 years and don't really know much about theory, I've been playing by ear or by tab these years, but I have a very talented ear and I guess I'm a little musically gifted (not trying to brag or anything, I spend 5 hours a day every day playing) And I was wondering if it's worth it for me to learn theory and maybe sheet music? What would be the benefits of learning theory, and is it hard to learn? Thanks for the advice guys.
#2
Yes it is ( beneficial, not hard to learn ). At first I was thinking that it wouldn't be that much of a benefit, but with times you really see how much it help you. I still play by hear, some people refuse to learn theory because they want to brag about their ears powerOMG. but the truth is that even someone who is very into theory still bplay by hear. You'd need to be deaf to not play by hear a musical instrument! the difference reside in the fact that you understand ( that is the key word here ) what is happening.

Why does it sounds so good when ''favorite guitarist'' does ''favorite lick'' ?
How can I recreate this effect and add a bit of myslef in it ?

Theory man, learn it.

( Sorry for my english it's not my first language )
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#3
Theory does nothing but help, anybody that says that theory is harmful to playing does not know theory and wants to feel better about their lack of education. I don't know much theory but I've definitely become better since I started learning.

If you're just playing guitar I personally wouldn't put much emphasis on learning to read sheet music but it would probably make visualizing theory easier, though I don't know of many people that play guitar by sheet. You should still learn it (why not?) but I think anything you need to get across in guitar is covered by tabs and chord charts. If you ever branch over to another instrument (especially keys) knowing how to read sheet music will help immensely.
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#4
I'll sum it up in one simple sentence:

Theory helps you get to the notes you want faster.

That means less trial and error and much more fluent and spontaneous. Useful if you want to understand or create music but not so useful if you just play tabs. Same as with reading standard notation, except that's more important with other musical instruments.

Theory can be as hard to learn as you want. When you start out it'll be daunting and it'll be as hard as you want it to be. Once you get the basics it's not too hard.
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#5
Theory will make your webbed toes pickle like a violet unicorn cascading through luxurious sonic pleasure
#6
Quote by PogBoy
Theory will make your webbed toes pickle like a violet unicorn cascading through luxurious sonic pleasure


Yeah he got it.

The benefits to theory are endless. You learn enough theory and you wont need tabs. You'll be able to play anything by ear.
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#7
Wow I didn't know it was that beneficial, I've been mainly focusing on tricks i.e. playing the guitar on the floor, or learning new licks, now I haven't even peaked at theory yet but (correct me if I'm wrong) Isn't theory learning what spots make a certain sound and what spots match with that, and why they match?
#8
Quote by JakePlaysGuitar
Wow I didn't know it was that beneficial, I've been mainly focusing on tricks i.e. playing the guitar on the floor, or learning new licks, now I haven't even peaked at theory yet but (correct me if I'm wrong) Isn't theory learning what spots make a certain sound and what spots match with that, and why they match?


Theory is about why notes work together, why chords work together, and an understanding of it will not only make you able to analyze other people's songs to figure out why you like them so much, but be able to compose your own music at a degree of quality otherwise unattainable and at a much less frustrating and much quicker pace than you would without any understanding of theory.

Music theory is the grammar and spelling of music. You can learn some of a language just by hearing other people use it but if you don't know the difference between tenses most of what you say will make no sense and it would be hard for someone else to take you seriously.
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#9
Jake, there's a lot more to theory than that. What you've just described sounds like, to me at least, simply learning the fretboard.

Theory is about the fundamentals of rhythm, melody and harmony, and why some things work and some things don't. There's a lifetime of studying to be had, if you wish it.
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#10
Quote by JakePlaysGuitar
Wow I didn't know it was that beneficial, I've been mainly focusing on tricks i.e. playing the guitar on the floor, or learning new licks, now I haven't even peaked at theory yet but (correct me if I'm wrong) Isn't theory learning what spots make a certain sound and what spots match with that, and why they match?


Yes. Yes, it is. And rocket science is flinging things into space.

Let's put it this way; the basics of music theory are about scales, chord construction, keys, and harmony. That's addition and subtraction. Then there's... well, all the other stuff that I don't know yet. That's calculus.

The beauty is, you can learn as much of it as you need to. I needed to know how to compose in a proper key and harmonize melodies so that I could write music. If, some day, I decide I need to know the proper way to create a fugue or something, I can go learn it when I'm ready.
#11
Quote by JakePlaysGuitar
Wow I didn't know it was that beneficial, I've been mainly focusing on tricks i.e. playing the guitar on the floor, or learning new licks, now I haven't even peaked at theory yet but (correct me if I'm wrong) Isn't theory learning what spots make a certain sound and what spots match with that, and why they match?

Yeah we can say that. Why does the VM7b9 resolve so well to the I ? Stuff like that.

exemple :

e------------------------7-------5
b-------------------6-9---------5
g----------------7--------------5-
d----------6-9-----------------7-
a--7-8-7----------------------7--
E------------------------------5---

When you'll understand thw why and how of what I just wrote, then you'll enjoy playing guitar so much more. ( C'mon give it a try and tell me how does it sounds ! )
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#12
Lol I was way off, sorry guys like I said I've never even bothered with theory, but I'm going to start researching and learning as much as I can.
#13
I wouldn't put much emphasis on learning to read sheet music. I mean. It'll make you a much better musician, and a better guitar player. But maybe save that for later? Just my thought.

HOWEVER!

I would put a lot into reading chord sheets. And I don't mean the simple DCGC kind of chord sheets. You do have to start somewhere, but don't STOP there.

Playing in a big band jazz environment helped me immensely with my chord catalog and knowledge of chord structure. And it wasn't even like it was work. It wasn't pounding my head against a book.

But yeah. Jazz sheets and learning chord forms will go a long way. Plus I think it's really fun.
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#14
Am I wrong or are there two types here,
Music theory. scales how chord work ect.
Guitar theory. how it all relates on the guitar:
But this goes up to 11
#15
Quote by JakePlaysGuitar
Wow I didn't know it was that beneficial, I've been mainly focusing on tricks i.e. playing the guitar on the floor, or learning new licks, now I haven't even peaked at theory yet but (correct me if I'm wrong) Isn't theory learning what spots make a certain sound and what spots match with that, and why they match?

Theory is nothing to do with the guitar itself, it simply helps you understand how music itself "works".

If you have time watch this series of videos

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PnbOWi6f_IM

It'll give you a bit of an insight as to why theory is so useful, but also as to how universal it is
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#16
Quote by deltadaz
Am I wrong or are there two types here,
Music theory. scales how chord work ect.
Guitar theory. how it all relates on the guitar:


More like... music theory and how it's executed on a guitar. Like, music theory will tell you what a major scale is and what notes it contains. Then, once you know that, you need to go "okay, now how do I play that on the guitar?". It's not so much "guitar theory" as "knowing what you're doing on your instrument".
#17
We left out rest and rhythm.

Metronomes are HUGELY important to helping you learn rhythm and tempo. This is where and how long to play and be heard and when to pause, rest and allow the music to breathe. As well as how to make sure you're on beat with anyone you're playing with.
#19
Theory is essential. As has been said before it makes you see relationships and understand why you're doing what you're doing. Without it you're really kind of lost in not understanding your instrument as much as you think. Also about reading sheet music... I've been through this time and again here at UG. Personally I don't think reading sheet music is necessary for learning to play guitar. With that said, Steve Vai himself said in his 30 hour course that learning to read sheet music is essential because it helps you see patterns and you can look ahead in the piece as to what is coming up. I'm not going to argue with Steve so you can take that for what it's worth.
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#20
Quote by daverolston
I'm in the same boat Jake, without the skills. Would taking a theory course be the way to go. I've been trying to figure this stuff out recently and it sucks balls. Maybe if a teacher teaches it will sink in more. I would love to get off these housewife chords I've been playing and move on to some real guitar. Just wanted to share my frustration. Peace.


Well, to you and Jake

Music theory makes everything sound, musicial! Instead of throwing some random notes together and hoping for the best.

Music Theory is the study of Melody, Chord Function, Diatonic movement, Harmony, and it structures you to be a better musician. Not only can you learn to make Major Scales, you can create complete musical masterpiecies! There are a lot of things that make it interesting.

I remember sitting in my theory class and we made everything consonace. Then our teacher showed us all these interesting things that invovled forcing dissonance into a chord and making certain interval movements to resolve it. Sounded amazing! I doubt I would of ever learnt that without Music Theory.

I would suggest at the least you learn to read Sheet music, but then again my brain only functions thinking via sheet music Remember, the blank staff is your canvas, and your notes are your fine oil paints!

And maybe a Teacher could help, I would recommend one to be sure you are 100% right!

Cheers,
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#21
I'm still struggling a bit still, but it's going ok for now, I don't know if I could get a teacher I'm a little short on money :/
#22
Theory is good to progress your understanding of music, but its good to see that you go by ear too, just because it increases your musical creativity.
#23
Quote by JakePlaysGuitar
I'm still struggling a bit still, but it's going ok for now, I don't know if I could get a teacher I'm a little short on money :/


Then try http://www.musictheory.net/

It's free and it's good for the basics. Unless you want to compose for orchestras and bands then this should be plenty to know till you can get a teacher or find a class

Cheers,
Xter
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#24
Quote by Xter
Then try http://www.musictheory.net/

It's free and it's good for the basics. Unless you want to compose for orchestras and bands then this should be plenty to know till you can get a teacher or find a class

Cheers,
Xter

Thanks so much man, this is very helpful, I owe you!!
#25
Quote by JakePlaysGuitar
Thanks so much man, this is very helpful, I owe you!!


No problem And nah, it's all free
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#26
Quote by JakePlaysGuitar
I've been playing for roughly 2 years and don't really know much about theory, I've been playing by ear or by tab these years, but I have a very talented ear and I guess I'm a little musically gifted (not trying to brag or anything, I spend 5 hours a day every day playing) And I was wondering if it's worth it for me to learn theory and maybe sheet music? What would be the benefits of learning theory, and is it hard to learn? Thanks for the advice guys.


It's not hard to learn, but it's hard to apply. I don't need to explain the benefits; the day you start studying theory, you will instantly realize how helpful it is. Theory is GOOD for every musician, regardless of what anyone says.
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#28
Even using the site musictheory.net I'm still confused, where should I start? And I don't understand how to apply this to guitar, it's on a keyboard, some of it has helped me, but some of the other parts confuse me. Sorry guys :s
#29
ive been playing for about 2 half years, havent properly learned it and im fine
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#30
Quote by ethanwhufc
ive been playing for about 2 half years, havent properly learned it and im fine


And you are also almost certainly a lesser player than someone who did learn it.

You can do fine without theory but that doesn't mean that learning it is anything less than a good idea, it will never do anything but help as long as you learn it properly.
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#31
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
And you are also almost certainly a lesser player than someone who did learn it.

You can do fine without theory but that doesn't mean that learning it is anything less than a good idea, it will never do anything but help as long as you learn it properly.

I'm still having troubles learning it properly, I don't know where to start at.
#32
Quote by JakePlaysGuitar
I'm still having troubles learning it properly, I don't know where to start at.


Start here and watch and understand the whole series http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OXv69rcko0

The move on to these: http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/search.php?value=the+crusade&search_type=columns

Make sure you understand each concept before you try and learn the next, unless you understand the basics the advanced parts will completely confound you.
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#33
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Start here and watch and understand the whole series http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9OXv69rcko0

The move on to these: http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/search.php?value=the+crusade&search_type=columns

Make sure you understand each concept before you try and learn the next, unless you understand the basics the advanced parts will completely confound you.

Thanks so much man these videos are really clearing things up, I understand it now, thanks
#34
For me, learning about music theory has actually made playing and learning licks and stuff a lot easier.

Of course you need to develop your ear and learn the fretboard etc etc but I always felt that learning licks without knowing theory I was sort of 'flying blind' - ie you know what notes you play, but you don't know why you are playing them and why they work in a particular musical context.

Learning music theory is a bit like maths: if you don't know the theoretical background and why a particular equation works for a particular problem, you will be really restricted in how you can apply it to solve problems. However, if you know the theory you will be able to tweak and modify the equation and use it to solve loads of different problems. Same with music theory
#35
Quote by JakePlaysGuitar
Even using the site musictheory.net I'm still confused, where should I start? And I don't understand how to apply this to guitar, it's on a keyboard, some of it has helped me, but some of the other parts confuse me. Sorry guys :s


They just explain it on a keyboard because its layout makes it "clearer". I don't see how you don't understand how to apply it on your guitar, if you learn your fretboard then you can apply it.
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Last edited by Svennz at Jan 2, 2012,
#36
Quote by JakePlaysGuitar
Even using the site musictheory.net I'm still confused, where should I start? And I don't understand how to apply this to guitar, it's on a keyboard, some of it has helped me, but some of the other parts confuse me. Sorry guys :s

Whether it's on keyboard or not doesn't matter - notes are notes, an A is an A no matter which instrument you're playing.


And before anyone says it yes, I'm aware of transposing instruments but there's no point overcomplicating the issue.
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#37
This was probably covered already, but the order I tackled learning theory was as follows;

Scales (Major, minor, pentatonic)
Keys -> Tonal centers
Chords (Major, minor)
Chords (The other stuff)
Harmony/Chord progressions

If you're not adverse to spending a bit o' money, I recommend the following books;

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Composition
Piano for Dummies

That second one may be a bit of an odd choice for a guitarist, but I found the chapters on theory and chord construction to be ridiculously accessable.

Once you know all of that stuff (or, while you're learning it), learn how to find the notes on the guitar neck, and study your scale patterns. You should be off and running.

Hell, if you want, PM me with any basic "Getting started" questions. I was in the exact same boat as you a year or two ago, and while I don't know as much as the experts, I know enough to at least point a beginner in the right direction vis-a-vis clarifying stuff.