So my friend and I were talking and I thought this might be interesting to get other opinions... Writing by ear verse learning basic theory and then writing. We came to the conclusion that to take the time to learn theory we could've been writing that whole time but having that knowledge would likely help you write better and faster. I've always written by ear using the chords I know and adjusting them or creating chords just by putting notes together that sound good together. There is something to be said for the discovery process and happy accidents that come with writing by ear. I would love to go back to guitar lessons but I just don't have the time and if every time I sat down to play guitar I had to practice playing Three Blind Mice while trying to teach myself to read music I'd never have time to write for my band.
All writing should be done by ear.

Theory will help you understand musical concepts on a different level so can help you with your writing in that you can be exposed to and understand how musical ideas can apply to what you want to achieve. But no matter how much theory you know it ALWAYS comes down to your ear.

I'm not sure it is really a "vs" kind of thing but for the sake of the thread I say Ear without a doubt.
I know theory and still write by ear. Learning theory doesn't mean your writing changes. It just makes it easier to understand what you wrote. And it also makes it easier to experiment with stuff.

So if you get lots of ideas right now and don't know any theory, just write music. Theory is something you learn all the time (I don't think you can say "now I know all theory" - and usually if you say so, you really know nothing). Some people know lots of theory, some people know less theory. It's not something you just learn and then start writing. It takes time to learn lots of theory but the basics can be learned pretty fast. To write songs you don't need any theory knowledge, but again, theory can make it easier to write songs. Theory doesn't write songs for you, you still need to write them. Writing only requires a good ear (so that you know which notes you hear and can play them) and inspiration.

^ Yeah, Alan got it right.

I would say both but ear is the most important thing.
Quote by AlanHB
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Nov 27, 2013,
Neither. The only way is to hone your craft. Theory can help you meet deadlines, but it won't write your music for you. Also having a great ear may help, but it also won't help you make sense of your ideas. The most important aspect is to know what you want.