#1
If you knew nothing about music theory but were aspiring to begin learning all that is required to starting writing your own music, where would you begin?
and what would you need to learn in order to be able to do that?
I'm trying to learn this stuff on my own, but I think im trying to learn stuff out of order. So any advice or links to lessons to where i should start is much appreciated.
#3
Major scale, the chords in it, what they are called IE the tonic, supersonic, mediant Etc, how to make it, and the intervals that make the major scale.
song stuck in my head today


#4
Quote by lbc_sublime
what they are called IE the tonic, supersonic, mediant Etc

This is not important at all. I see absolutely no value in learning the scale labels other than to be able to call them by their fancy names.

The only functioning scalar labels that matter are tonics and leading tones.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#5
Just write what sounds good

loooooooooooooooooooool
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#6
Quote by BledGhostWhite
Definitely the Major Scale. Most important in my opinion.

this, start with the major scale, almost everything else in theory and songwriting is based off of the major scale.
Quote by Dirk Gently
Some pieces are only meant to be played by people with six fingers on their fretting hand. Sorry.
#7
Note durations,
notes on the treble clef,
intervals,
major scale,
basic chords.
^^The above is a Cryptic Metaphor^^


"To know the truth of history is to realize its ultimate myth and its inevitable ambiguity." Everything is made up and the facts don't matter.


MUSIC THEORY LINK
#8
Rhythm and form. If you don't know how to pace yourself or plan your music, you're not going to be doing much.
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#9
Pitch of a note; fundamental frequency; overtones; how intervals are derived from frequency ratios; ratios of consonance and dissonance; how equal temperament approximates natural harmonic vibrations. Although these things won't be directly put into your playing practice every day they form a bedrock of knowledge. They're an endpoint to many chains of 'why' questions about music.
#10
Quote by InsaneVendetta
If you knew nothing about music theory but were aspiring to begin learning all that is required to starting writing your own music, where would you begin?
and what would you need to learn in order to be able to do that?
I'm trying to learn this stuff on my own, but I think im trying to learn stuff out of order. So any advice or links to lessons to where i should start is much appreciated.


well, 1st of all you can write music without any music theory. theory is helpful, but it's not required.

2nd, the problem your having is a result of you trying to learn on your own. With a subject like music theory I highly recommend taking a class, studying privately, or at least getting a good book.

Piecing together random advice from people you don't know online will only get you so far, and it's a horrible way to start.
shred is gaudy music
#11
1) Major and Minor scales (Ionian and Aeolian)
2) Basics of chord construction (3rds, 5ths) - what makes minor sound minor, major sound major (the 3rd!).
3) Basics of cadences (5th, 7th, 2nd chord)
4) Chord substitution (The 1st can be replaced by the 6th, for example)

At that point, you should be off to a decent start if you posses any inherent melodic sense at all. I honestly don't know that much more than what's listed above and I get by alright most of the time.

I took a music theory class, and while certain aspects of it were frustrating the dedication of time and energy to the subject on a constant basis allowed me to form a pretty solid understanding in only a semester. You could look up your local community college and see if they offer a 100-level theory course, or possibly talk to your band director at school and see if they'd like to guide you a bit during a study period, elective class time (that isn't occupied by band), or after school once a week or something. You could probably also learn this stuff how it applied to an instrument by taking guitar or piano lessons and asking to work on theory and understanding, rather than learning random songs, while still improving your techniques.
Last edited by RadioMuse at Apr 2, 2012,
#12
Quote by InsaneVendetta
If you knew nothing about music theory but were aspiring to begin learning all that is required to starting writing your own music, where would you begin?
and what would you need to learn in order to be able to do that?
I'm trying to learn this stuff on my own, but I think im trying to learn stuff out of order. So any advice or links to lessons to where i should start is much appreciated.


I honestly don't think theory is that important for writing music. I think having a developed ear is far more important. In my experience good music comes from having a musical idea in your head and finding a way to express that. THeory is only useful to the extent that you can hear the theoretical concepts in practical application, because then your mind understands them well enough to compose with them.

I really do think very few people compose music from an intellectual left-brained thinking-about-labels place.

The most important skill for writing music, in my opinion, is the ability to hear pitches accurately in context. This is what turns a vague idea in your head into a specific song.

After that, it helps to know how to harmonize the major and minor scales. I use modal interchange a tremendous amount to give myself more harmonic variation. I use inversions often.

As for references? I like Shroeder and Wyatt's workbook: "Harmony and Theory." It's a good starting point, and nicely structured.
#13
Quote by HotspurJr
I honestly don't think theory is that important for writing music. I think having a developed ear is far more important.


True, but I found that I started producing better material faster once I learned how to harmonize chords properly... and that took a lot less time than trying to develop my ear. As I said here a while back, and was roundly bashed for, it's true that you can simply cram together any chords that sound good to you - but you may find it easier to start with an established progression or note choice.

As my ex was so fond of reminding me when I was trying to learn her native language (Mandarin), "You have to know the rules before you can break them."
#14
Work on your ear. Once you can use relative pitch skills, theory just.... makes sense. You can hear it, you know?
#15
you really should let people know what you already know... I think of music theory sort of like math... it builds on eachother, and its really not THAT complicated, like one or two of the other posts said, you can get by without being a music major..

learn major scale, minor scale, basic chords like minor/major/dominant, roman numeral numbering system for chords(so you will understand better how the chords are working).

this is what i would suggest to anyone who is just starting to learn theory. Learning the actual chords on your guitar, and learning the number I ii iii IV V vi vii system will go a long way in helping you... which ones are minor/major which ones can be substituted etc, will give you a good foundation to play with
#17
I suggest forgetting about note names A, B, C, D, E, F, G, when it comes to learning scales. Because you will have to learn the scale for each key seperately and there will be no pattern to help you remember them, you will just have to remember them on an individual basis. Plus, it's a lot of work for not a massive improvement. You certainly won't be able to compose a song just because you know what the notes are called.

Anyway, a shortcut, and in my view a better way to begin learning about theory is to learn the general shape of all major scales and all minor scales. (Later you could learn about scales in other modes, but begin with major and minor first).

The good thing about this is instead of learning 12 scales for each key of the major scale, all you have to do is learn one general rule/pattern and all the 12 scales fit into that pattern nicely.

Where "b" means "flat":
The chromatic scale is 1, b2, 2, b3, 3, 4, b5, 5, b6, 6, b7, 7, 8 (where 8 is octave).
The general pattern of all major scales is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.
For natural minor scales it's 1, 2, b3, 4, 5, b6, b7, 8.
The only difference is a b3, b6 and b7.

I suppose you know what a power chord is, and how to play it. It's also called a power 5th and the reason is because you play 1 and 5 together.

These numbers are known by other names you may have also heard of, for example, 1 is also known as the root note or the tonic, and 5 is also known as the perfect 5th, or the dominant. But it's easier to just learn the numbers and you aren't gaining any more practical skills by learning what they're called.

I'm sure you know how to play a power chord, pick any note on the top 3 strings and the next note is down and then 2 frets across. Little did you know but you already know off by heart where the 5 is in relation to the 1.

Learn this chromatic scale off by heart: 1, b2, 2, b3, 3, 4, b5, 5, b6, 6, b7, 7, 8. Be careful because you can sometimes think of a flat note in your head and forget the next note, for example it's easy to make the mistake of going straight from b2 to b3 in your head.
Only the 1, the 4 and the 8 doesn't have a flat note.

What's so special about the chromatic scale? It's basically going up 1 fret at a time so it's very easy to use as a standard for working out note positions, bit like using a ruler when you want to find out how far 5cm is. Just an example.

Practise the chromatic scale on the guitar whilst saying the note numbers out loud or in your head. Practise going up the same strings but more importantly practise going across the strings. This helps you understand the relations between notes on different strings. Also practise going from the 4th to the 5th string because as you know that's going to be a little different to all the other strings.

Then learn the major scale: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. Too easy right? Pick any note on the fretboard and think of that note as 1, and work your way up. Generally you should move to the next string to play the 4 and then to the next string again to play the 7, but your long term goal isn't to limit yourself in this way. You want it so that if someone told you to stay on the same string and keep going up then you would be able to do it with ease, or move to the next string and then start working back down the scale but on the same string, so you will start going further down the neck. Just keep practising this. Don't ever limit yourself. Remain flexible, work up and down the whole neck, that's the only way you will master the fretboard.

You only really want to be able to know the letter of the key your in, for example C major, if you want to tell someone what key your in, for example if you're jamming with a pianist or something. For that you can spend a few seconds to work it out. As long as you know there is only a half step between E and F and B and C then this shouldn't be difficult. But in terms of being able to master the fretboard and improvise a solo on the spot, it's not necessarily to know exactly what the letter name of every single note you are playing is.
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"Where do you want to go?" was his response.
"I don't know", Alice answered.
"Then", said the cat,
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Last edited by BadBanshee at Apr 4, 2012,
#18
Just realized that you could have been asking about how to write sheet music, in which case my post is probably completely irrelevant lol. But if you mean learning theory in order to improve your guitar playing and boost your ability to improvise (and composing is basically writing down improvisations but with the benefit of review and hindsight) then my post should be helpful. Hope it's helpful to someone anyway lol.
"Which road do I take"? she asked.
"Where do you want to go?" was his response.
"I don't know", Alice answered.
"Then", said the cat,
"it doesn't matter.”
#19
Quote by Xiaoxi
This is not important at all. I see absolutely no value in learning the scale labels other than to be able to call them by their fancy names.

The only functioning scalar labels that matter are tonics and leading tones.


i remember why i never hang out in here anymore....
song stuck in my head today


#20
Quote by lbc_sublime
i remember why i never hang out in here anymore....

No, he's right.
The only chords you should play are C and Bo
Quote by Banjocal
sht up u flthy librl foogit stfu u soo mad n butthurdt ur ass is an analpocolypse cuz ur so gay "my ass hrts so mcuh" - u. your rectally vexed n anlly angushed lolo go bck 2 asslnd lolol
#22
Quote by lbc_sublime
i remember why i never hang out in here anymore....

Well, if you only come here to talk about what you know and shut out anything you don't know/misunderstood, then I suppose...


Quote by King Of Suede
No, he's right.
The only chords you should play are C and Bo

When you realize that there's really only 3 kinds of functionality in tonal harmony, it's not hard to see why most of the labels are artificial and only for academic purposes.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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Hey guys could you spare a minute to Vote for my band. Go to the site Search our band Listana with CTRL+F for quick and vote Thank you .
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Last edited by Xiaoxi at Apr 5, 2012,
#23
thank you for everyone that has contributed. I will be attempting to learn this on my own, maybe once I get back from boot camp ill hire a teacher to teach me some music theory.
#24
The order of things I always teach people, which has been working well so far is:

1) Major scale
2) Basics of Harmonizing the major scale
3) The minor scales
4) Basic time signatures


That should keep you busy for a bit.
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Theory is descriptive, not prescriptive.


Quote by MiKe Hendryckz
theory states 1+1=2 sometimes in music 1+1=3.