#1
simple question:

Does adding effects to your instrument (guitar or otherwise) change the theory of the music?

I ask cos I looked up "metal theory" and it explained that power chords are best used in Punk and Metal due to the usual fuzz and overdrive and distortion. That's different to when you use full 6 string chords, which the smart musician would go clean. And when wah wah/talkbox is turned on it's mostly used for single notes and double stops.
Theory is just...wow. I'm getting a bit over my head by trying to learn so much w/o formal educators

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#2
no in most cases but it depends on the exact effect. a pitchshifter or whammy will change the note you're playing, for example. that doesn't change the theory, of course, but it means you're not playing a G (for example) any more.

also (as you suggested about the wah and distortion/fuzz) it might change how you have to play, but again it's not changing the theory.

Short answer: no

Longer answer: no, but some things are worth bearing in mind.

kind of thing.
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Last edited by Dave_Mc at Nov 2, 2013,
#3
A major third is a major third is a major third. However, a major third on a piano sounds good, but a major third played on a heavily distorted guitar might not as pleasing.
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#4
Distortion adds frequencies. The power chord is just a simplified chord, kept simple so that it sounds ok when distorted. The open chord contains a lot more notes and frequencies, and when distorted, can be a right mess. The theory doesn't change, but the choice of notes when constructing a chord often does.
#5
No. What you are describing are common features of different genres. Music theory didn't change.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
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#6
effects adjust timbre. this is an important element of music, and one that needs to be taken into consideration in orchestration, but it really operates on an incredibly intuitive scale and will do very little to affect harmonic function so much as delivery and production of that sound to be as pleasing (or unpleasing) as possible, depending on the creator's intentions.
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#7
Your understanding of "theory" is a bit wrong (or you are using the word "theory" wrong). Music theory never changes. It's the same in all styles, it applies to all instruments. What you are talking about is knowing about the sound. Theory doesn't tell you what sounds good and what doesn't. It only explains what is happening in a piece.

Why you want to use power chords with high gain is because full chords will sound muddy. It's about knowing how the effects change your sound and it has nothing to do with music theory.
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#8
Quote by eric_wearing
simple question:

Does adding effects to your instrument (guitar or otherwise) change the theory of the music?

No, not in and of itself. The notes played would still remain the same, whether I played an electric guitar through my amp clean or with distortion/other effects.

I ask cos I looked up "metal theory" and it explained that power chords are best used in Punk and Metal due to the usual fuzz and overdrive and distortion.

The reason power chords are used in Metal (and Rock and Punk and so on) are because they're completely sterile. What I mean is, there's no 3rd in a power chord, which makes it easier to harmonize. It's also easier to play them than to play full chords.

That's different to when you use full 6 string chords, which the smart musician would go clean.

A smart musician wouldn't shy away from using any of the tools in their "musical toolbox". Yes, full chords may sound better clean, but they can be used to excellent effect with distortion, as well.

And when wah wah/talkbox is turned on it's mostly used for single notes and double stops.
This is mainly because wahs and talkboxes are mainly used during solos, which largely consist of single notes and doublestops. There are some examples of intro riffs that use wahs/talkboxes (and then the wah/talkbox is shut off as the intro ends or something).
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Nov 3, 2013,
#9
To TS: Music theory doesn't mean just notes (or whatever it is you think it means).

In the earlier days of music, it was thought of mostly in terms of pitch and melody. So back then there weren't as many things to consider as there are today. Rhythm, timbre, meter, etc. weren't so much at a composer's forefront as the notes were. But when Beethoven came along (beginning of Romantic era), he played with rhythm a lot more. This is just one example of various aspects of music theory being more important at certain times.

Nowadays, the composer thinks of many more ways to affect the music other than just pitch and melody. Even guitar effects change the music, so they are just as much a part of theory as intervals are. Music theory is just to identify things in music.
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#10
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Your understanding of "theory" is a bit wrong (or you are using the word "theory" wrong). Music theory never changes. It's the same in all styles, it applies to all instruments. What you are talking about is knowing about the sound. Theory doesn't tell you what sounds good and what doesn't. It only explains what is happening in a piece.

Why you want to use power chords with high gain is because full chords will sound muddy. It's about knowing how the effects change your sound and it has nothing to do with music theory.


whoa whoa whoa

music theory absolutely changes. it's a science and is built off observation.

it doesn't give you a subjective good or bad, but it's hasty to suggest it isn't open to adjustment. look at atonality.
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#11
Quote by MattyBoy 1337
Even guitar effects change the music, so they are just as much a part of theory as intervals are. Music theory is just to identify things in music.
I would argue that effects don't change the music. They color the tone of the music, in the same way that playing a riff on a guitar with humbuckers will sound different than playing the same riff on a guitar with single coil pickups. However, the actual music (melody, rhythm, pitch, etc., etc.) doesn't change.
The sole exception to this rule is any effects that lower/raise note pitch or add an extra note to accompany an (assumed) melody. (Note, however, that wahs don't raise note pitch, merely raise/lower the tone of the note.)
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Nov 3, 2013,
#12
Quote by crazysam23_Atax
I would argue that effects don't change the music. They color the tone of the music, in the same way that playing a riff on a guitar with humbuckers will sound different than playing the same riff on a guitar with single coil pickups. However, the actual music (melody, rhythm, pitch, etc., etc.) doesn't change.
The sole exception to this rule is any effects that lower/raise note pitch or add an extra note to accompany an (assumed) melody. (Note, however, that wahs don't raise note pitch, merely raise/lower the tone of the note.)


in today's world where it is perfectly feasible for a hobbyist to manufacture very cheaply music with high-end production quality (IE periphery's self-titled album and icarus EP, as well as both current animals as leaders albums), it would be very ignorant to say that timbre does not affect the listener's experience, and thereby the music.

tone is absolutely an element of music, albeit a more subtle one, but if you were to say that tone didn't affect music to any composer, they'd laugh in your face. orchestration is serious business, young man
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#13
Quote by Hail
whoa whoa whoa

music theory absolutely changes. it's a science and is built off observation.

it doesn't give you a subjective good or bad, but it's hasty to suggest it isn't open to adjustment. look at atonality.

OK, that's not what I really meant. I meant that the same theory applies to all genres. So there is not a thing called "metal theory" or "guitar theory". It's all music theory.

Oh, and music theory doesn't tell you what to do. Theory just explains music. OK, it kind of is music theory that flanger changes your sound like this. But it's not music theory if somebody says you should use flanger here but not here.
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Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Nov 4, 2013,
#14
its music THEORY...it is suggestion...and it has many exceptions...you can use many exceptions and it may sound better that using suggested ways...

using effects may not alter the theory...but it may enhance the exceptions..

wolf
#15
Quote by eric_wearing

I ask cos I looked up "metal theory" and it explained that power chords are best used in Punk and Metal due to the usual fuzz and overdrive and distortion. That's different to when you use full 6 string chords, which the smart musician would go clean. And when wah wah/talkbox is turned on it's mostly used for single notes and double stops.


So let's talk about what happens with distortion. Most distortion adds compression. Compression makes quiet noises louder, relative to the louder noises. What that means is that the overtones get louder relative to the fundamentals.

So let's say you're playing a C chord and look at some overtones. THese get quieter the further on you go in the series:

C (fundamental) C (octave) G (fifth) E (third) ... those all work with your C chord because they ARE your C chord.

G, the fifth of your chord, gives us:

G (fundamental) G (octave) D (fifth) B (third). Notice how these notes are all diatonic to C major.

But E, the third, gives us:

E (fundamental) E (octave) B (fifth) G# (third). Whoops.

You don't normally notice because the harmonic series is pretty quiet at that point if you're playing clean. But if you compress it, which makes those notes relatively louder, all of a sudden your C major chord has both a G and a G#. It also has a B, which is only a half step from C.

Your C major chord now includes the notes: C D E G G# B.

And it starts to sound really muddy. It's hard to hear the C major chord for all of that.

So you drop the third. This gets rid of the G# and it reduces the B (which was being played twice - as part of your G note and as part of your E note, and is now only being played once).

The "theory" doesn't change at all. But we play differently because our instruments are responding differently.
#16
Quote by Hail
in today's world where it is perfectly feasible for a hobbyist to manufacture very cheaply music with high-end production quality (IE periphery's self-titled album and icarus EP, as well as both current animals as leaders albums), it would be very ignorant to say that timbre does not affect the listener's experience, and thereby the music.

tone is absolutely an element of music, albeit a more subtle one, but if you were to say that tone didn't affect music to any composer, they'd laugh in your face. orchestration is serious business, young man

Of course, but timbre is not generally something we notate. If one was tone chasing on guitar or bass, of course, they would do their very best to match the timbre. However, if I'm going to (as an example) play something by Periphery, I have to be aware of the fact that I probably will never match their guitar tone exactly -- unless I happen to steal the guitars owned by the band's guitar players.

Composers and musicians need to be aware of timbre. But how do we notate that? Beyond saying, "I played this guitar with x specs, on y amp with z eq and A effects. My strings were B, C, D, E, F, G guages...[etc.]"?
Last edited by crazysam23_Atax at Nov 4, 2013,
#17
^ normally on (electric) guitar music it'll notate the very basic stuff which is needed- e.g. "w/distortion", "w/wah" etc. But agreed, outside of that, not so much.

Quote by wolflen
its music THEORY...it is suggestion...and it has many exceptions...you can use many exceptions and it may sound better that using suggested ways...

using effects may not alter the theory...but it may enhance the exceptions..

wolf


i agree that music theory is a suggestion rather than a rule, but i think "theory" in this instance is similar to the "theory of evolution" or "atomic theory" or "the theory of gravity"... it's not the layman's definition of the word "theory".
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#18
Quote by HotspurJr
So let's talk about what happens with distortion. Most distortion adds compression. Compression makes quiet noises louder, relative to the louder noises. What that means is that the overtones get louder relative to the fundamentals.


Cool post! But the highlighted part is backward. Speaking as a trained and experienced sound guy, compression actually reduces the loudness of the loud parts to conform more to the volume of the quiet parts. This is why compressors have "gain reduction" meters. The reason compressed audio often sounds louder is because primarily of 2 reasons. 1. The engineer put on some "make-up gain" in the compressor to make up for the loss in gain. 2. Consistent audio is less interesting than dynamic audio, so your brain will kinda gloss over the consistent audio making it sound bigger. This is why a small, but constant beeping noise (for instance) in an otherwise noisy room will sound huge and annoying.
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#19
Quote by Dave_Mc
^ normally on (electric) guitar music it'll notate the very basic stuff which is needed- e.g. "w/distortion", "w/wah" etc. But agreed, outside of that, not so much.

Yeah, exactly. I mean, what's there to do besides that?
#20
I really think they should start to notate the faces you should pull in the middle of solos.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

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Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

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#21
Quote by Dave_Mc
I really think they should start to notate the faces you should pull in the middle of solos.

They'd need like 31+ notations just for Steve Vai, with reference pictures!
#22
vai also needs notation for when to turn the fan on.
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

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Et tu, br00tz?
#24
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Quote by K33nbl4d3
I'll have to put the Classic T models on my to-try list. Shame the finish options there are Anachronism Gold, Nuclear Waste and Aged Clown, because in principle the plaintop is right up my alley.

Quote by K33nbl4d3
Presumably because the CCF (Combined Corksniffing Forces) of MLP and Gibson forums would rise up against them, plunging the land into war.

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Et tu, br00tz?
#25
every trumpet or trombone or clarinet is not made equal. every mouthpiece or reed or mute is not made equal. you cannot notate to that extent, but even so, in a lot of contemporary music, notation can be a little bit of a deadweight (not that i wanna start that debate, either)

even guitarpro has separate acoustic/electric/overdriven/distorted guitars. that's mostly for midi simulation, but it's a very important distinction.

i'm not saying a pedalboard turns music theory as we know it on its head, but it's a very important consideration. electrical instruments were unprecedented to people a hundred years ago, and looking at synthesizers and DAWs now it's unfair to say that notation is to be taken as an end-all be-all of our understanding of how music works.
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#26
Darn, I wish I had been a part of this talk haha. Thanks for the responses everyone!
Theory is just...wow. I'm getting a bit over my head by trying to learn so much w/o formal educators

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