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crazysam23_Atax
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#1
So, inspired by this article (which basically discusses pentatonic scales and "shifts" and "modal" scales [read: not modal, but tonal since it's using the modes as scales]), I'm wondering why we're (we as a guitar community, I mean) still uphold modes and scales as anything more than a teaching tool. We still have guitar teachers and players who wrongfully insist that way to gain more freedom in the notes you can use is to use different scales. We also have tons of musicians who don't write riffs/songs/motifs in keys but in scales. I'm wondering when the guitar community will wake up and realize that there's a reason why writing in keys is the best option.

It's my belief that, if the guitar community taught some basic music theory (very basic counterpoint, harmony, chord construction, cadences, etc.) and emphasized writing in keys, we'd have less bands running around with uninspired songs that sound exactly like the half the other bands. (Of course, there'd still be band that have uninspired songs trying to cater to the more commercial side, but that just separates out the bands with good songwriting skills all the more.)

So...thoughts? Should the guitar community stop placing so much emphasis on scales/modes? If not, why not?
crazysam23_Atax
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#3
Quote by chronowarp
Bro you're like preaching to the choir here.

Yeah, I know. That's why I'm asking for thoughts. For instance, how should the guitar community go about doing what I'm suggesting?

In hindsight, that should've been in the OP.
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#4
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
It's my belief that, if the guitar community taught some basic music theory (very basic counterpoint, harmony, chord construction, cadences, etc.) and emphasized writing in keys, we'd have less bands running around with uninspired songs that sound exactly like the half the other bands.


So if everyone learned how to write music the way you think they should, we'd have fewer bands writing songs that all sound the same?

I'm not sure I follow.
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#5
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
I'm wondering when the guitar community will wake up and realize that there's a reason why writing in keys is the best option.


Write out that reason (or reasons) in simple terms.
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#6
I don't know how scales or keys or modes have to do with how we write. I write what I hear in my head. I don't think "let's write a riff that uses Fb superlocrian". ( ) I mean, everybody writes in keys. Most songs stay in one key all the time, it has nothing to do with thinking in keys or scales. You write what you hear, you don't let theory to write it for you because that's just impossible. If you hear a modulation, then you do a modulation. The writer doesn't necessarily even know he's modulating but if he hears a modulation, he writes a modulation. That's how it goes.
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Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#7
this is really pretentious and that's coming from me
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innovine
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#8
Quote by MaggaraMarine
I don't know how scales or keys or modes have to do with how we write. I write what I hear in my head.


I'll just chip in my 2c here. In my head, I only hear the same scales and keys which I already know how to play.. If I drift from them, my brain says "ugh, a bad note". So all my stuff simply starts to sound the same. If I apply some theory, I can use it as a stretching exercise. So even if my brain says a note sounds strange, I can lean on the theory and keep playing it, and after a while the unfamiliar starts to sound a bit more familiar.

Everyone is different, of course, but I thought it was worth pointing out that not everyone hears finished masterpieces in a variety of colourful and exotic scales directly in their head. Some of us have to sweat through it and fight against our own perceptions just to hear that.
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#9
Quote by innovine
I'll just chip in my 2c here. In my head, I only hear the same scales and keys which I already know how to play.. If I drift from them, my brain says "ugh, a bad note". So all my stuff simply starts to sound the same. If I apply some theory, I can use it as a stretching exercise. So even if my brain says a note sounds strange, I can lean on the theory and keep playing it, and after a while the unfamiliar starts to sound a bit more familiar.

Everyone is different, of course, but I thought it was worth pointing out that not everyone hears finished masterpieces in a variety of colourful and exotic scales directly in their head. Some of us have to sweat through it and fight against our own perceptions just to hear that.


you get there from listening to, writing, and playing music. not scales.

there might be scales inherent in the music, but there isn't music inherent in a scale.
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#10
Quote by Hail
you get there from listening to, writing, and playing music. not scales.

there might be scales inherent in the music, but there isn't music inherent in a scale.

This. My songs of course fit some scale(s) but I don't think in scales when I write. They are the melodies I hear in my head and I'm sure they fit some scales. But usually when I write things, I don't think "let's write a song that uses this chord progression and melody over it that uses this scale". I just write a song and I just hear a chord progression that fits the song. I know that I have heard those chords before but yeah, you need to listen to lots of music to write good songs. It's not about scales, it's about music.
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bustapr
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#11
writing in keys is an option where you'll always sound good. if you write a song or solo in a key, you can expect it to sound just right almost always. you can easily improvize or write a solo if you know the key your track is in. you can also base and play the exact sound your want(the sound you think of playing next) if you know what key signature youre in.

if a rythm or solo is out of key at some point many people will notice that shift and theyll immediately think it doesnt sound all that right. it can be done to play out f a key, but you have to know exactly where to put those notes. and odds are if you write a song by ear, its most likely in a key.
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#12
Quote by bustapr
writing in keys is an option where you'll always sound good. if you write a song or solo in a key, you can expect it to sound just right almost always. you can easily improvize or write a solo if you know the key your track is in. you can also base and play the exact sound your want(the sound you think of playing next) if you know what key signature youre in.

if a rythm or solo is out of key at some point many people will notice that shift and theyll immediately think it doesnt sound all that right. it can be done to play out f a key, but you have to know exactly where to put those notes. and odds are if you write a song by ear, its most likely in a key.


you can't play outside of a key. you can play outside of the key signature, but at that point you're playing outside the scale. people play with accidentals constantly in every genre (yes, even pop)

provided you have control over tension and resolution, consonance and dissonance, and understand how this plays in keys, you can make anything sound "good" - even if it sounds "bad" - provided proper context. in art, there is no better or worse unless the artist yields their creativity to demonstrate their objective skill

it's not really a choice to play out in a key - you kinda have to be trying not to be unless you've been absolutely engulfed in atonality or obscure art music. which is fine and great, absolutely, but if you're playing metal guitar, odds are you're not nearly that much of a hipster yet
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Jehannum
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#13
Quote by innovine
I'll just chip in my 2c here. In my head, I only hear the same scales and keys which I already know how to play.. If I drift from them, my brain says "ugh, a bad note". So all my stuff simply starts to sound the same. If I apply some theory, I can use it as a stretching exercise. So even if my brain says a note sounds strange, I can lean on the theory and keep playing it, and after a while the unfamiliar starts to sound a bit more familiar.

Everyone is different, of course, but I thought it was worth pointing out that not everyone hears finished masterpieces in a variety of colourful and exotic scales directly in their head. Some of us have to sweat through it and fight against our own perceptions just to hear that.


I'd say there's some truth in this. The music you hear in your imagination isn't always the product of some inner musical genius. If internalising a scale helps enrich your creativity a little, why not?
Last edited by Jehannum at Mar 8, 2013,
crazysam23_Atax
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#14
Quote by Jehannum
I'd say there's some truth in this. The music you hear in your imagination isn't always the product of some inner musical genius. If internalising a scale helps enrich your creativity a little, why not?

A scale is generally 7 notes. As Hail pointed out, you cannot play out of a key. So, basically, a key gives unlimited options, whereas a scale limits you to 7 notes. That's why Keys > Scales.

Quote by MaggaraMarine
It's not about scales, it's about music.

Couldn't have summed it up better. Some people write in keys intuitively, because they were taught to write in keys. Other people need to train themselves to write in keys, because they were taught scales and never the theory to say that scales are superseded by keys. We need more of the former and less of the latter.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Mar 8, 2013,
Tempoe
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#15
I don't think you necessary need any theory to write a great piece of music. (not saying it hurts though!) Depends what kind of music you're into. Simple can be way more powerful than complex.
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#16
You should write in a key! Good music should be a dash of the risque and the familiar. Why are pop songs so popular with the mainstream? Because people can inherently make sense of them. I mean, look at all that atonal 20th century garbage out there you never hear on the radio. People don't like it because they can't make sense of it. There are no musical proportions/patterns. I think music that really speaks is stuff that looks simple on the surface but it complex underneath, or in other words, elegant.
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#17
Billy Gibbons: Always play it in the key of G demolished.
Dr. Jack Hodgins: I don't know what that means.
Billy Gibbons: Well, if you do, you do; if you don't, you don't. Forget it.

Billy Gibbons playing "Angela's Father" in the TV Series "Bones (2007)"

This pretty much sums up my feelings on this discussion.
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crazysam23_Atax
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#18
Quote by sweetdude3000
I mean, look at all that atonal 20th century garbage out there you never hear on the radio. People don't like it because they can't make sense of it. There are no musical proportions/patterns.

Actually there are, they're just purposely written in a manner that people aren't used to hearing...but whatever...

But I don't enjoy "art music" or find it to be inherently better than music than, say Mozart or AC/DC or Ne Obliviscaris (or whatever other composer/band you can think of).

I think music that really speaks is stuff that looks simple on the surface but it complex underneath, or in other words, elegant.
I would agree with that, to a point.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Mar 8, 2013,
Vypor
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#19
Maybe some input from somebody that doesn't completely understand would help.

If I say, hey I want to write a song in the key of E. What are my options?

First thing I find is "The key of E is compromised of these notes"

These are the notes of that scale. If your not playing any of these notes, than you not in said key.

Going over this in my head, I guess I really don't understand how keys and scales are any different.
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Hail
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#20
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EjjUveFfJsw

i'll take my garbage any day

but i enjoy it because that's what i gravitated to at some point and i enjoy experimentation. i'm not gonna tell a kid to throw away his guitar and learn tuvan throat singing - they can find their niches on their own terms. we're here to teach the fundamentals, self-sufficiency, and the ability to use whatever tools you want to do whatever you want with them.

scales will hinder this because it makes it very easy to miss the big picture early on. when you can make the call for yourself, and feel like you're most efficient thinking visually rather than aurally, you can do anything you want. art is art. but when you're still trying to play metallica in your bedroom, you don't have the room to express yourself because you don't understand music as an artform well enough to use it as a means of expression.

i'm not saying sit and pore for hours over a theory textbook because that's counterproductive to appreciating what you're doing. you can find out a remarkable amount by natural intuition by just locking yourself in your room and learning, writing, and playing music, and you'll learn to appreciate it beyond a series of sounds, and learn how to appreciate your music by that virtue.

"when you hear someone play something that they really really like, it's like, really compelling, regardless of what style it is" - elliott smith

learn your theory when you've learned what music is to you, and when you've learned to attribute a nonobjective meaning to it. then you can use any tool at your disposal, but exposing yourself to music and learning to function within and without it is the best way to develop a make-shift sense of logic and understanding, because you discover it on your own terms.

at that point you can debate semantics and shit, but my big thing isn't that one school of thought is better than the other - it's that there's a school of thought based on giving people the ability to respect and appreciate all schools of thought.

i might come off one-sided, but i view this forum as a medium of educational practices, and any pitfalls i may have had, i'll try and help a beginner avoid. they'll probably do it anyway and learn from their mistakes, and that's okay, but i do what i can for that sake. when it comes to listening to music, the important thing to remember is that there's a great equalizer - you can't necessarily tell what the composer was thinking at the time of creation unless they did it in an inauthentic or forced way.

i'll sit and talk shit about scales all the time, and the line of thought related to it, but if you make a great piece of music and tell me you thought in just shapes and patterns the whole time, i don't care about any of that cause you made a great piece of music and worked off of your own inspiration. beginners don't have that, and from experience i'd rather them learn the general, vague, bland, rinsed-pasta version of theory on their own terms rather than jumping into scale shapes to entertain themselves, because they end up like that guy who posted "I DON'T KNOW ANY SONGS BUT THIS CHORD PROGRESSION WITH ARPEGGIOS DOESN'T SOUND GOOD HOW DO I WRITE A SOLO TO IT WHAT'S THE SECRET??"

you should have fun making and learning music by making and learning music. no matter what you think of me or my opinions, if you don't think learning and creating music is the most important part of music, that technical runs and exercises supersede just enjoying that you have the ability to pick up an instrument and make music that resonates with yourself, that you can emulate your heroes and can have a good time with your friends in a run-down garage, you're missing the point

/neohippie rant, i don't know who or what it was directed to but fuck yall PUNK ROCK
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crazysam23_Atax
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#21
Quote by Vypor
Maybe some input from somebody that doesn't completely understand would help.

If I say, hey I want to write a song in the key of E. What are my options?

First thing I find is "The key of E is compromised of these notes"

These are the notes of that scale. If you'rd not playing any of these notes, than you're not in said key.

No, think about it this way. The key signature of Emajor contains the notes E, F#, G#, A, B, C#, D#. The key signature is not the key though. You're not limited to those 7 notes.

For instance, the chords people commonly assign to the key of E are: Emaj, F#min, G#min, Amaj, Bmaj, C#maj, D#dim.

Because of chromatics, we literally can NEVER got out of key. That's why it's perfectly legal to play E7#9 (which contains E, G#, B, & G) in the key of E, for instance. Note that the G note in E7#9 is not in the key signature of E. So, you can pick notes that fit the song rather than be limited to a scale.

Make sense?
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Mar 8, 2013,
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#22
Quote by crazysam23_Atax

Note that D#dim contains the notes D#, F, and A. The note F does NOT fit in the key signature of Emajor. But that doesn't mean we're out of key. F acts as a chromatic note in the key of Emajor. Because of chromatics, we literally can NEVER got out of key. So, you can pick notes that fit the song rather than be limited to a scale.

Make sense?

The third in D#dim is F#, not F. And the reason D#dim is commonly used in the first place is because all the notes do fit into the key. Just like all the other ones.
crazysam23_Atax
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#23
Quote by Cavalcade
The third in D#dim is F#, not F. And the reason D#dim is commonly used in the first place is because all the notes do fit into the key. Just like all the other ones.

Fuck...you're right. But anyway, the point about chromatics is correct. Let me edit the D#dim thing out. Sorry.


Edit:
Ok, I edited it so that it's using E7#9 as a chord example (which is a better example anyway). I don't know how I screwed up the D#dim example. My bad.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Mar 8, 2013,
Hail
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#24
Quote by Vypor
Maybe some input from somebody that doesn't completely understand would help.

If I say, hey I want to write a song in the key of E. What are my options?

First thing I find is "The key of E is compromised of these notes"

These are the notes of that scale. If your not playing any of these notes, than you not in said key.

Going over this in my head, I guess I really don't understand how keys and scales are any different.

the key of e resolves to e. the scale is made to optimize the relationship to the tonic, but you can do literally anything once that tonic is solidified - even if you specifically had to write in a specific key, it would simply be a matter of making sure there's a subdominant->dominant->tonic relationship wherein E (major, i'm assuming) is the basis.
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#25
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
So, inspired by this article (which basically discusses pentatonic scales and "shifts" and "modal" scales [read: not modal, but tonal since it's using the modes as scales]), I'm wondering why we're (we as a guitar community, I mean) still uphold modes and scales as anything more than a teaching tool. We still have guitar teachers and players who wrongfully insist that way to gain more freedom in the notes you can use is to use different scales. We also have tons of musicians who don't write riffs/songs/motifs in keys but in scales. I'm wondering when the guitar community will wake up and realize that there's a reason why writing in keys is the best option.

It's my belief that, if the guitar community taught some basic music theory (very basic counterpoint, harmony, chord construction, cadences, etc.) and emphasized writing in keys, we'd have less bands running around with uninspired songs that sound exactly like the half the other bands. (Of course, there'd still be band that have uninspired songs trying to cater to the more commercial side, but that just separates out the bands with good songwriting skills all the more.)

So...thoughts? Should the guitar community stop placing so much emphasis on scales/modes? If not, why not?


I don't know about you, but Im an individual not part of some community of guitarists.
I say take the approach you want, make the music you want to make, and stop thinking you know how everyone else should learn, teach or play....that's their choice to make.
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Mar 8, 2013,
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#27
Quote by Cavalcade
wegotabadass.jpg
If you don't want to learn to improve your musicianship, what are you doing in MT?


sharing my opinion, and don't be presumptuous..... the reason I posted is because I feel the attitude quoted was detrimental to improving ones musicianship.
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Mar 8, 2013,
Quintex
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#28
Quote by Hail
you should have fun making and learning music by making and learning music. no matter what you think of me or my opinions, if you don't think learning and creating music is the most important part of music, that technical runs and exercises supersede just enjoying that you have the ability to pick up an instrument and make music that resonates with yourself, that you can emulate your heroes and can have a good time with your friends in a run-down garage, you're missing the point

Never thought I would ever quote Hail, but this is what it is all about.

Having fun may be playing chords off a chart during a drunken sing-a-long at 3am or playing your latest rhapsody to a group of strangers. Lighten up people you are all taking this way too seriously.
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#29
Quote by GuitarMunky
sharing my opinion

You can do that without being a dick to someone who's trying to help other people.
Quote by GuitarMunky
the reason I posted is because I feel the attitude quoted was detrimental to improving ones musicianship.

The attitude quoted is to improve one's musicianship. How is improving one's musicianship detrimental to improving one's musicianship?
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#30
Quote by Cavalcade
You can do that without being a dick to someone who's trying to help other people.


Apparently if you disagree with someone, you're being a dick, so no I can't.

Quote by Cavalcade

The attitude quoted is to improve one's musicianship.


I disagree that it will, sorry.
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#31
Quote by GuitarMunky
I disagree that it will, sorry.

So, you disagree that learning music theory will improve one's musicianship? Ok, then...

Basically, I'm advocating improving one's knowledge of music theory (which includes learning some of the things I posted in the OP, such as: very basic counterpoint, harmony, chord construction, cadences, etc.), because all of that increases one's understanding of music theory (which directly lends it self to using keys rather than using scales or modes or sticking strictly to the notes of the key signature).
Note: music theory acknowledges scales/modes, as most of you know, but the concepts are generally taught within the context of a key, not within the context of a scale. You don't learn about harmony, for instance, in terms of scales. No one says, "This scale and that scale harmonize well together", because we're concerned with keys and harmony with a key, not causing 2 scales to harmonize.


But if you find the idea of learning music theory detrimental to improving one's musicianship, then whatever. I don't quite see how that works, but you're entitled to your opinion, I suppose.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Mar 8, 2013,
Hail
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#32
you guys act like guitarmunky hasn't been around MT for years

i disagree with him on a lot of things but get off his dick over trivial things, i don't see how anybody on MT would ever put up my personality and not his cause i'm far more abrasive and dickish about what i say. it takes conviction to be that direct and sure of yourself

not that he said anything weird or bad here anyway, he was just disagreeing with a blanket statement from somebody who's using anti-mode/keys as a buzz term to condescend to everybody

(though to be fair GM probably thinks that of me too but still lol)
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Last edited by Hail at Mar 8, 2013,
crazysam23_Atax
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#33
To be fair, if I properly understand what guitarmunky is saying, it makes no sense. He may have a great deal of knowledge (I'm unable to judge that because I'm an infrequent user of MT), but he's stating his point in a way that leads me to believe that he doesn't advocate music theory. I'd be willing to grant that he may not be trying to say that, but that what it sounds like to me.

Edit:
guitarmunky, it may help me understand your viewpoint better if you stated why you think my attitude is detrimental to improving one's musicianship. Or is it just my perceived condescending tone* that is bothering you?

*I'm not trying to be condescending, btw.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Mar 8, 2013,
griffRG7321
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#34
Modes and scales are not the be all and end all of music, statements such as 'ignore modes and scales' however are also detrimental.

It's funny how people with a beginner to intermediate understanding of music hear an advanced poster say a phrase and take it entirely out of context. Resulting in idiotic statements such as 'Scales and modes are useless, don't learn them'.
GuitarMunky
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#35
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
To be fair, if I properly understand what guitarmunky is saying, it makes no sense. He may have a great deal of knowledge (I'm unable to judge that because I'm an infrequent user of MT), but he's stating his point in a way that leads me to believe that he doesn't advocate music theory. I'd be willing to grant that he may not be trying to say that, but that what it sounds like to me.

Edit:
guitarmunky, it may help me understand your viewpoint better if you stated why you think my attitude is detrimental to improving one's musicianship. Or is it just my perceived condescending tone* that is bothering you?

*I'm not trying to be condescending, btw.


I think you're better off focusing on your own approach to guitar, and not trying to determine a path for the guitar"community" as a whole. It's simply more sane and actually attainable.

What's so hard to understand about that?
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Mar 8, 2013,
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#36
Quote by GuitarMunky
I think you're better off focusing on your own approach to guitar, and not trying to determine a path for the guitar"community" as a whole. It's simply more sane and actually attainable.

What's so hard to understand about that?

Oh, ok. Whatever.

Quote by griffRG7321
Modes and scales are not the be all and end all of music, statements such as 'ignore modes and scales' however are also detrimental.

It's funny how people with a beginner to intermediate understanding of music hear an advanced poster say a phrase and take it entirely out of context. Resulting in idiotic statements such as 'Scales and modes are useless, don't learn them'.

Scales and modes are inferior in comparison to keys, when it comes to composing. I sort of thought that was clear in the OP, since I talked about how we have guitar players who compose using Xscale or Ymode.
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Mar 8, 2013,
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#37
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
Oh, ok. Whatever.


Scales and modes are inferior in comparison to keys, when it comes to composing. I sort of thought that was clear in the OP, since I talked about how we have guitar players who compose using Xscale or Ymode.


Musicians have done that for centuries, and not just guitarists. Something you'll have to accept eventually.
macashmack
Maskcashmack
Join date: May 2011
3,359 IQ
#38
The way I see it my nigs, just learning how all the notes sound in relation to each other is the best theory that there is.

As a matter of fact, I would say that anyone who takes a different approach is wrong and inferior. Contrary to what you're saying guitarmunky, somethings that work for some people are not as good as the "textbook" way of doing it. I learned this when I was on my middle school basketball team (anecdote coming):

There was this kid who was pretty good at shooting, better than most of us, but the way he shot was weird. He would pull his right arm back behind his head and a parallel to his ear, and fling it in a similar fashion to the way a catapult flings a projectile. The coach taught us the correct way to shoot, and had us run it, but the kid refused to do it because he couldn't do it as well. The rest of us practiced the way our coach told us.
We all got progressively better at shooting, the kid who shot weirdly included. But but the middle of the year, something happened; We were all able to shoot off of a dribble and we were able to shoot without being muffed, while the weird kid could not shoot without getting stuffed half the time. The nature of the way he shot, even though it was good for him, was inferior to the correct way of shooting, which he could have easily mastered had he put his pride and ego aside and just worked at it the right way. Needless to say, he ended up getting benched for most of the season.

I don't see why it would be different with music, or anything in life for that matter. Learning how keys work, learning how all the values of notes sound in a key, and learning functional harmony is simply superior over learning a bunch of scales and modes, and thinking that you need to learn a new one every times you find that you have hit a plateau (in a tonal setting). I think it works like that in everything in life; I truly believe that you can find a correct way to do something. Yes it might be tweaked a little bit depending on the individual, but this might be more of a tweak in the way that it is taught, rather than the values/concepts that are taught.

Get at me.
crazysam23_Atax
Feuergesicht
Join date: Oct 2009
5,700 IQ
#40
Quote by macashmack
I don't see why it would be different with music, or anything in life for that matter. Learning how keys work, learning how all the values of notes sound in a key, and learning functional harmony is simply superior over learning a bunch of scales and modes, and thinking that you need to learn a new one every times you find that you have hit a plateau (in a tonal setting). I think it works like that in everything in life; I truly believe that you can find a correct way to do something. Yes it might be tweaked a little bit depending on the individual, but this might be more of a tweak in the way that it is taught, rather than the values/concepts that are taught.

Exactly.