#1
Hey guys,
I'm a self-taught guitar player and have been playing for three and a half years now.
I always wanted to write own songs but just had no ideas or was told by a friend of mine, who is studying music, that those chords, I put together can't be used due to theoretical stuff...
Now my question:
Can I be as good as a guitar player, who knows all the musical theory or has been taught by a teacher even though I sometimes have a musical ear and can hear stuff, that friends of mine don't even recognize or find it out myself just by ear?
Do I NEED, to know all the scales, to write own stuff or to know, which chords I can use in a row etc.?

Thanks for your answers guys!
#2
theory is just an amalgamation of observations procured by analyzing (academically or practically) music that has been created.

a fundamental understanding of theory will take you very far in understanding what you're already playing, but by, over time, learning and performing music (particularly by ear, and more particularly by charting the music yourself), you will grow to understand and appreciate harmony/melody/form to a point where you can both derive and manipulate inspiration and create the product that you want to create.

your friend sounds like he's full of shit and just learned diatonicism from his first week in big boy theory
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#3
Quote by FabulousIan
Hey guys,
I'm a self-taught guitar player and have been playing for three and a half years now.
I always wanted to write own songs but just had no ideas or was told by a friend of mine, who is studying music, that those chords, I put together can't be used due to
Here's the issue, if the "chords you put together" sound good to people other than yourself, then "violating the absolute laws of musical theory", is less than a summary offense.

12 bar blues "violates" traditional theory on a constant basis, due to the fact that all dominant 7th chords are sometimes played at any scale degree.

Theory, enables you to dissect music has which already been played, more so than it can enable you to write a good song. (as opposed to a "theoretically good song").

The I, IV, V, I chord progression(*) is founded in solid theory, but it's also a cultural staple of modern western music. You can hear it, you're it the grips of its cadence, even if you don't realize it at the time...

I would encourage you to learn basic theory, how scales are formed, what notes are in which keys, how a major or minor scales are formed, because all those things can be valuable to you. Just not because your friend says so.


(*) The progression most commonly heard as I, IV, V, I on the guitar is "G, C, D, G".
Last edited by Captaincranky at May 31, 2013,
#4
If you have friends that try to tell you that you can't write music a certain way because of theory then you need to give them a good kick in the balls and find new friends. For the rest of your questions, the answer is no you don't have to learn any theory to get anywhere, but it certainly helps because it cuts out a lot of the trouble of sitting down and playing random bits to see if there is some chance that it is the sound that you are trying to create.

Look at it this way, which way would be more efficient? Sitting down and playing all the time to find out for yourself what sounds good and what doesn't, or taking what centuries of musicians have figured out sounds good and doesn't and add to what you figure out on your own.
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#5
Your friend is a theory noob. If the chords sound good together, then play away. Tell Mr. Those-chords-don't-fit, that he can stuff it.
#6
You're friend is completely wrong for saying that certain chords can't be used together due to theory. Any chord sequence can be used together. Theory just explains why they sound the way they do; not the way they should be used.

You don't need to learn theory but it can't bother to help. Just learning the major/minor scale, keys and accidentals, intervals, and how different chords are constructed can be helpful. When you're jamming and want to create a certain "sound" with a song, you can cut some time and say "Oh, okay. The sound I'm hearing in my head is a perfect 4th away from here," and you go from there. You can play any note/chord after and it won't be wrong. Theory just explains "how" and "why" the relationship between the two sounds work. If someone says that you can't do something due to theory, they're obviously ignorant when it comes to music.
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#7
Quote by FabulousIan
was told by a friend of mine, who is studying music, that those chords, I put together can't be used due to theoretical stuff...

That's completely incorrect. You may be borrowing non-diatonic chords without knowing what you're doing. But as long as it sounds good, who cares? Theory isn't meant to be a set of hard rules.

Can I be as good as a guitar player, who knows all the musical theory or has been taught by a teacher even though I sometimes have a musical ear and can hear stuff, that friends of mine don't even recognize or find it out myself just by ear?

Yes. But theory can be helpful too, as long as you don't get into the mindset of thinking like your friend.

Do I NEED, to know all the scales, to write own stuff or to know, which chords I can use in a row etc.?

No, but knowing theory doesn't hurt.
#8
Definitely not necessary to learn theory. But... It's great to be a guitar player, and have pretentious, douchey jazz or clasical musicians who play trumpet/violin/etc. talk down to you and act like you don't know your shit, and then proving them wrong by knowing more than they do.

In all seriousness, at least learn basic note reading and key signatures. It really does help.
#9
Quote by tomc2
Definitely not necessary to learn theory. But... It's great to be a guitar player, and have pretentious, douchey jazz or clasical musicians who play trumpet/violin/etc. talk down to you and act like you don't know your shit, and then proving them wrong by knowing more than they do.

Those guys are great. They're usually so smug, and then you name off a few simple concepts, and they're like, "Wait...what? I thought you guitar players didn't do theory..."
#10
while it's entirely possible your chord progressions are terrible, theory has nothing to do with that.

Putting a name to the sounds you hear in music can't make you any worse of a player.
#11
Well thanks for your answers guys!
Now I know, what I could learn or what would be nice, to learn and can work on some new stuff and maybe come up with some pretty sick ideas due to new learned stuff.
#12
Quote by FabulousIan

Can I be as good as a guitar player, who knows all the musical theory or has been taught by a teacher even though I sometimes have a musical ear and can hear stuff, that friends of mine don't even recognize or find it out myself just by ear?

Absolutely, although learning theory will always help your songwriting.
Quote by FabulousIan

Do I NEED, to know all the scales, to write own stuff or to know, which chords I can use in a row etc.?

No, and I know a fair amount of theory.
Just my $0.02, which seems to fall in line with the other responses anyway.