#1
Hello MT.
I have been learning the basics of music theory for the past several months, if not year. I have grasped and learned many concepts. I have went through all the lessons of musictheory.net and grasped their concepts (or at least I feel I have) and I constantly visit this forum and other theory sites in an effort to learn more. However, I always like to have direction. I like to have something to focus on. My aural skills are subpar. Of course, I can go through ear training exercises. But now, really all I'm doing is improvising. However, I don't know exactly what to do besides just improvising and creating my own riffs. Do I just keep piling more theory knowledge? If so, any suggestions as to which resources I should use to do so would be appreciated.

I just want to know how I can efficiently use my time to make myself a better musician aside from creating and improvising riffs, and creating chord progressions.

Thanks.
#2
My advice would be to seek out music that sounds different or interesting to you and analyze it. Put in into context with the knowledge of theory concepts you have supposedly grasped. When you can take a look at a song, take starry night by satriani as a random example, and say, yea its in C major with a couple chords borrowed from the parallel minor for a bVI bVII I cadence and some other hints toward parallel minor modulation toward the end of the song, with melodies mainly in C major pentatonic, etc. - and do that just by listening once or twice - then you'll know you've really grasped the concepts you're reading about.

Also play over backing tracks. Listen to how each note of the scale sounds over different chords, this will help develop your ear.

To help put all the lessons you've gone through in context (when you're tired of playing and transcribing), you could read the free chapters on www.howmusicreallyworks.com, it gives some good background on where music comes from, etc.
#3
Thanks. I guess I'll have to train my ear a lot harder before I attempt anything else it seems
#4
That's a good idea.

The truth is that music theory isn't very meaningful unless you understand how to hear what it describes. This trips up a lot of musicians because you can learn music theory quickly but your ear develops slowly. My ear isn't even that great yet, though, and I find that the work I've put into it has paid huge dividends.

What else should you work on? We can't answer that question because it depends on what inspires you. That being said, if improvisation matters, then play with other musicians. It's a very different thing than playing over a backing track.
#5
Honestly, the important thing is the application of the theory you know, not learning more and more concepts. (for 95% of guitarists anyway )

Putting together good chord progressions, finding nice voicings, creating strong melodies... these are skills that can always be improved on.
#6
definitely start focusing on what you're improvising. over time, that skill adds to your ear in a way that doesn't involve staring away from a piano guessing intervals. if you listen to holdsworth's improvisation, do you think as he's going he's thinking of every single note he wants to play in the next chord? he doesn't need to, because he's familiar with the sounds he's going for, and what will sound good - or bad, if that's what he wants - in the context he's established thus far.

learn other peoples' songs, write your own music, and don't rely on it, but you'd be shocked how much being able to 'hear' what comes next without seeing/knowing it will help you when you sit down at guitar pro or cubase or your desk or whatever you write on.

plus, it's awesome when you mess around on your girlfriend's acoustic guitar and she thinks it's an actual song you wrote while you're fiddling around on a walking bassline
modes are a social construct
#7
Thanks for the advice.
I just can't seem to get the rights down. I sometimes, and only sometimes get the right intervals down but rarely do I play the right notes.
Any help with ear training. I don't really know how to train my ear. I try to play with songs, but I can't focus well on hearing the notes with other instruments. I mean I can hear the guitar, but I can barely transcribe when it's ONLY guitar. So with other instruments/vocals I'm lucky to get a couple of notes or intervals correct.

Thanks in advance.
#8
Quote by scarhawk

Any help with ear training. I don't really know how to train my ear. I try to play with songs, but I can't focus well on hearing the notes with other instruments. I mean I can hear the guitar, but I can barely transcribe when it's ONLY guitar. So with other instruments/vocals I'm lucky to get a couple of notes or intervals correct.

Thanks in advance.


My ear training advice is twofold:

FIrst, download the functional ear trainer from Miles.be (it's free!) and use it regularly.

Secondly, get the book "Ear Training for the Contemporary Musician" by Keith Wyatt and work your way through it. Expect it to take a long time if your ear isn't that good to begin with. But on the plus side, you'll also learn a lot of theory from that book.
#9
Doesn't that book require you to sing every other page though? That's the thing that really kept me off buying it as I heard of that book elsewhere as well
#10
Quote by scarhawk
Doesn't that book require you to sing every other page though? That's the thing that really kept me off buying it as I heard of that book elsewhere as well


is that a problem? you don't have to be aretha franklin to carry a tune, and being able to reproduce tones with your voice is a huge help.
modes are a social construct
#11
Quote by Hail
is that a problem? you don't have to be aretha franklin to carry a tune, and being able to reproduce tones with your voice is a huge help.


this reminds me of the conductor in my choir saying that every musician should do at least one year of choir or something similar to learn to at least carry a tune and know how to sing the notes in tune, even if not with a great technique or sound... just so they could internalize the sounds, be more familiar with them
#12
Quote by Hail
is that a problem? you don't have to be aretha franklin to carry a tune, and being able to reproduce tones with your voice is a huge help.

I see. Well it looks I'll just have to break out of my comfort zone for this one. I've just ordered it off of Amazon.