#1
Hello! I've been playing guitar since I was 16 years old, so roughly around 5 years now and I have a lot of trouble with improving at this point.

I'm completely self-taught and therefore know very little music theory ( I know Major scale, blues pentatonic) but every-time I sit down and try to learn the theory I just become incredibly bored and end up playing my own songs or ideas. I barely play songs by other artists as I often find that I'm not proficient in whatever technique they're using or just become impatient (or inspired and try to create something instead) and give up after a while.

I would describe my guitar-playing as quite sloppy and a bit too physical but with a good sense for rhythm and riffing. I am definitely more of a songwriter versus a solo-guy. I want to be able to put down some great guitar solos in my songs but I but I really suck at it. How did you guys get good at this? was there a certain technique or piece of theory that helped you out in particular?

My main inspirations are bands or artists such as:
Black Keys
Muse
Biffy clyro
Dream theater
Rush
Reignwolf
John Mayer
The sheepdogs
Spock's beard
Jack White
Alter bridge
Arcane Roots

Here is my band where I play guitar (and sing) https://soundcloud.com/inglorious-days

I'm thankful for every advice you can give me


tl;dr
I'm having problems with improving at guitar. I Like playing my own stuff over other people's songs or learning theory.
#2
Well. . . nothing wrong with writing your own stuff, and every person's experience is different, but the way I got myself to stop, I started expanding my horizons. Listen to some music you don't like and think about how much work went into it. That will serve two purposes, present you with more music you might find you like in the end, and also get you thinking about theory, which will reinforce the behavior of learning.
#3
It sounds to me like you have two questions here. 1) How to improve at theory without getting bored, and 2) How to improve your techniques.

With theory, you just haven't seen the material presented in an interesting way yet, I'd bet. Besides, I personally believe you don't truly know the theory you learn until you put it to use in your music. In your case, try writing some music in a tab editor. The instantaneous audio playback will allow you to experiment and get more out of your time than you would playing guitar into a recorder or something.

With techniques, sadly it's just a matter of practice. Try watching something funny while you practice, to keep your brain amused and help prevent lapsing into the tedium of practicing something you're not particularly good at yet.
#4
As far as theory, I agree with Kevin.

It's pretty much like math, it's easy for it to be boring, usually takes a pretty good teacher to actually make it really interesting. I personally don't really enjoy it, and I don't know that much theory, but I find I use even less theory than I know for song writing. It's something that I think depends on the person. IMO you don't really need theory to improve your songwriting, but it IS one way to improve it; but if it really doesn't click with you, I wouldn't try forcing it, but rather try to figure out other approaches.

Say, if you want to learn new scales but can't bring yourself to go study scales, just do it yourself :P pick a bunch of notes that you think sound good together; maybe try it out with a base first - for example, take the pentatonic scale. Add (or maybe even remove) a few notes, see how it sounds; if you like it, try to memorize it (write it down just in case); if not, keep tinkering. Then try to figure out how you can apply it in a way that sounds good, try to find over which kinds of chords or whatever it sounds good. One way to do it is just take the notes from your "new" scale and "chordify" them; for example, take the root note from your scale, and then it's 3rd and it's 5th, maybe it's 7th or whatever, and put them together into a chord. Bam, now you have a general idea of where to use that scale, and you can try to make a song around that or whatever
#5
The thing is, theory is not scales. Theory just explains music. It's good to know the scale degrees, chord functions, intervals and all that. It's good to know how to count a rhythm. It's good to know how to build chords and scales. I don't know what's so boring in that. But if you think theory is scales, it is boring. I think it's good to be able to tell what's happening in the song. That also makes it easier to play by ear (though theory knowledge on its own doesn't teach you to hear the things in context - you need ear training for that).

If you know theory, it's easier to experiment with stuff. Because you understand what you are doing and what you do isn't completely random (I'm talking about experimenting, not songwriting in general).

I don't really like it when people say "I write with/without theory". That's not possible. If you know theory, you know theory. And when you write, you know what you are doing. Of course you use your ears when you write. Knowing theory is not an excuse not to use your ears. I write all my music by ear.

Theory isn't something that tells you what you should/shouldn't do. It only explains what's happening in music. It's not the music's "book of rules" because music is art and everything is allowed in art.

If you are interested in what happens in music and what things you like in music, learn theory. But if you aren't interested in that, there's no point in learning theory. Because that's what theory does - it explains music.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#6
Ignoring formal music theory means that you're electing to learn on your own what Europe spent 1000 years learning.

What do you mean by a great guitar solo? That will determine how you'll want to practice.

By the way, becoming good at music/anything is hard and requires some unpleasant work that you do because it's worth it.

Quote by KevinGoetz
Try watching something funny while you practice, to keep your brain amused and help prevent lapsing into the tedium of practicing something you're not particularly good at yet.
I think this is a bad move. If you're not engaged with the material that you're practicing and analyzing what you're doing well and what is going wrong, you're pissing away all of your practice time.
Last edited by bangoodcharlote at Dec 31, 2013,
#7
I have a lot of the same issues, and usually just play my own stuff or improvise for the same reason -- playing others' music is a technical struggle. However, there are songs by others that really move me, that I really want to play on guitar, and I keep coming back to them and progressing a bit more each time. I think you might try making a list of the top 10 songs you love and want to be able to play on guitar, and maybe try tackling those one by one and that will probably get you working on technical issues with a clear purpose / goal / reward in mind.

I'd suggest approaching theory the same way. I like theory myself, just as I like philosophy. I like the idea of figuring out the underlying rules for music. I mean, it's such a crazy idea that these certain harmonic vibrations create an emotional reaction in us. It seems like the science / physics / theory of music may be a window into the science / physics / theory of life, the universe and everything. Because it is something fundamental, like math or physics. We live in a universe of fractals -- everything is sort of a model of everything else. The life of a tree strongly parallels the life of galaxy. It would be extraordinary -- and quite unlikely -- if the music that can affect our emotions did not simultaneously serve as a similar model for life, for human relationships, etc.

But maybe that goes too deep. I sometimes look up music theory ideas out of a desire to go deep like that, but a lot of the time it is just tied to a particular song. Again, go back to your absolute favorite songs in the world. Don't you wonder why you love them so much compared to other songs? Don't you think a deeper understanding of why they work is important for you to incorporate that in your own music? I mean, I can take a song I love, like the Beatles "I want to hold your hand," and just learn to play it, and then I can just borrow sections of it and plagiarize it for my own stuff, maybe shift the key or tonal qualities to hide my theft. Or I can dig into the music theory underlying why it has a strong emotional impact, why it is able to change key from G major to D minor -- a rather unusual key change from verse to chorus -- and see how it then manages at the end of the chorus to "turn around" back to the key of G. And with a deeper understanding of how it works, instead of stealing the music, I can steal the ideas underlying the music, I can play around with a song in a major key and try throwing in a minor key chorus other than the relative minor. I can play around with the idea of playing lots of 4 and 5 chords to build up to the 1 chord in a song intro. I think when you borrow ideas that underlie a song, rather than the notes/chords of the song itself, you are letting the song inspire you rather than simply plagiarizing. And you can create something original yet familiar.

So, for both technique and theory, I'd suggest starting with the fact that you absolutely love certain songs you (a) cannot yet play, and (b) do not truly understand in music theory terms why they affect you so profoundly. I'd imagine you would love to be able to play those song and understand them on a deeper level. I'd imagine most musicians more than anything want to be able to play music like those songs they especially love, and if you say no, you are probably being dishonest with yourself.

I also think there may be an aspect of fear. Like, it seems a no-brainer to think that wanting to play and understand our most beloved songs would be an easy way to inspire us to learn technique and theory. But, on the other hand, if we have any insecurity about our playing, perhaps we deep down fear we will just not be able to do it, that we will simply find we cannot reach that level of playing or understanding. So we avoid it, due to insecurity and fear of failure. But, really, the only failure is not to try. Or maybe there's fear of success. Like, once you climb that mountain, what's left to climb? People can get very comfortable with their mediocrity to the point they sabotage their own ability to improve. Some psychologists say people do not really fear pain or hardship or struggle or poverty or illness...what people really fear is change, and they will often sabotage themselves to avoid even positive change if it means they have to confront an unknown future. I guess something like Kurt Cobain's suicide can make people fear the idea of great success, like, what if it's empty and there's nothing left to look forward to? Well, I just bring these issues up because you need to consider your own subconscious motives for self-sabotage, for wanting to stay at the level you are now. Some stuff that helps is, like, visualizations, meditation, positive affirmations. The better you can see and imagine and visualize a positive change, the less you will fear it as an unknown, and you will then find your own resistance to positive change diminishing and you'll start doing what you need to do to improve, and it will seem pretty effortless. Or so they say.

Ken
Bernie Sanders for President!
#8
Quote by Zerath


I would describe my guitar-playing as quite sloppy


Learn songs you like from start to finish. Practice them until you can play them with very few mistakes at tempo. Then practice them more until you can play them with no mistakes.
#9
Quote by JelloCrust
Well. . . nothing wrong with writing your own stuff, and every person's experience is different, but the way I got myself to stop, I started expanding my horizons. Listen to some music you don't like and think about how much work went into it. That will serve two purposes, present you with more music you might find you like in the end, and also get you thinking about theory, which will reinforce the behavior of learning.

Yeah, I've been trying to get into some other genres than what I'm used to but it's a good thought!
Quote by KevinGoetz
It sounds to me like you have two questions here. 1) How to improve at theory without getting bored, and 2) How to improve your techniques.

With theory, you just haven't seen the material presented in an interesting way yet, I'd bet. Besides, I personally believe you don't truly know the theory you learn until you put it to use in your music. In your case, try writing some music in a tab editor. The instantaneous audio playback will allow you to experiment and get more out of your time than you would playing guitar into a recorder or something.

With techniques, sadly it's just a matter of practice. Try watching something funny while you practice, to keep your brain amused and help prevent lapsing into the tedium of practicing something you're not particularly good at yet.

The practicing while doing something else might be good if I've already gotten a scale/technique down and just want to enforce it deeper into muscle memory but I have to actually start practicing techniques first as I haven't really ever practiced techniques at all .

Quote by RicAndrade
As far as theory, I agree with Kevin.

It's pretty much like math, it's easy for it to be boring, usually takes a pretty good teacher to actually make it really interesting. I personally don't really enjoy it, and I don't know that much theory, but I find I use even less theory than I know for song writing. It's something that I think depends on the person. IMO you don't really need theory to improve your songwriting, but it IS one way to improve it; but if it really doesn't click with you, I wouldn't try forcing it, but rather try to figure out other approaches.

Say, if you want to learn new scales but can't bring yourself to go study scales, just do it yourself :P pick a bunch of notes that you think sound good together; maybe try it out with a base first - for example, take the pentatonic scale. Add (or maybe even remove) a few notes, see how it sounds; if you like it, try to memorize it (write it down just in case); if not, keep tinkering. Then try to figure out how you can apply it in a way that sounds good, try to find over which kinds of chords or whatever it sounds good. One way to do it is just take the notes from your "new" scale and "chordify" them; for example, take the root note from your scale, and then it's 3rd and it's 5th, maybe it's 7th or whatever, and put them together into a chord. Bam, now you have a general idea of where to use that scale, and you can try to make a song around that or whatever

I think my main problem is procrastinating, so I would probably get bored trying to "find" the scales without knowing them but the thing you said about the pentatonic might work for me!
Quote by MaggaraMarine
The thing is, theory is not scales. Theory just explains music. It's good to know the scale degrees, chord functions, intervals and all that. It's good to know how to count a rhythm. It's good to know how to build chords and scales. I don't know what's so boring in that. But if you think theory is scales, it is boring. I think it's good to be able to tell what's happening in the song. That also makes it easier to play by ear (though theory knowledge on its own doesn't teach you to hear the things in context - you need ear training for that).
....

I think your point of view is very inspiring! The things I want a better understanding of when it comes to constructing songs is how harmony works on deeper level as I'm a sucker for that stuff. Also how I can "know" how to make transitions sound good, for example how to make a verse that mainly goes in E can transition well into a chorus in A. So with this in mind, what would you suggest I look at?
Quote by bangoodcharlote
Ignoring formal music theory means that you're electing to learn on your own what Europe spent 1000 years learning.

What do you mean by a great guitar solo? That will determine how you'll want to practice.

By the way, becoming good at music/anything is hard and requires some unpleasant work that you do because it's worth it.

When I think of a great guitar solo, I think of guitar players such as David Gilmour, John Petrucci and John Mayer. So mostly solos that are full of emotions and have a great melody (but also dirty solos like Jack White or Reignwolf).
Quote by krm27
I have a lot of the same issues, and usually just play my own stuff or improvise for the same reason -- playing others' music is a technical struggle. However, there are songs by others that really move me, that I really want to play on guitar, and I keep coming back to them and progressing a bit more each time. I think you might try making a list of the top 10 songs you love and want to be able to play on guitar, and maybe try tackling those one by one and that will probably get you working on technical issues with a clear purpose / goal / reward in mind.

I'd suggest approaching theory the same way. I like theory myself, just as I like philosophy. I like the idea of figuring out the underlying rules for music. I mean, it's such a crazy idea that these certain harmonic vibrations create an emotional reaction in us. It seems like the science / physics / theory of music may be a window into the science / physics / theory of life, the universe and everything. Because it is something fundamental, like math or physics. We live in a universe of fractals -- everything is sort of a model of everything else. The life of a tree strongly parallels the life of galaxy. It would be extraordinary -- and quite unlikely -- if the music that can affect our emotions did not simultaneously serve as a similar model for life, for human relationships, etc.

But maybe that goes too deep. I sometimes look up music theory ideas out of a desire to go deep like that, but a lot of the time it is just tied to a particular song. Again, go back to your absolute favorite songs in the world. Don't you wonder why you love them so much compared to other songs? Don't you think a deeper understanding of why they work is important for you to incorporate that in your own music? I mean, I can take a song I love, like the Beatles "I want to hold your hand," and just learn to play it, and then I can just borrow sections of it and plagiarize it for my own stuff, maybe shift the key or tonal qualities to hide my theft. Or I can dig into the music theory underlying why it has a strong emotional impact, why it is able to change key from G major to D minor -- a rather unusual key change from verse to chorus -- and see how it then manages at the end of the chorus to "turn around" back to the key of G. And with a deeper understanding of how it works, instead of stealing the music, I can steal the ideas underlying the music, I can play around with a song in a major key and try throwing in a minor key chorus other than the relative minor. I can play around with the idea of playing lots of 4 and 5 chords to build up to the 1 chord in a song intro. I think when you borrow ideas that underlie a song, rather than the notes/chords of the song itself, you are letting the song inspire you rather than simply plagiarizing. And you can create something original yet familiar.

So, for both technique and theory, I'd suggest starting with the fact that you absolutely love certain songs you (a) cannot yet play, and (b) do not truly understand in music theory terms why they affect you so profoundly. I'd imagine you would love to be able to play those song and understand them on a deeper level. I'd imagine most musicians more than anything want to be able to play music like those songs they especially love, and if you say no, you are probably being dishonest with yourself.
...

You describe a lot of the things I want to be able to do and understand. How harmony works and how you make key changes work. I'm gonna write 10 songs down that I want to learn and Start from there .
My main problem with learning different techniques is that I want to learn them all at once and get bored because I suck at them. At the same time I don't know what technique would be great for me to learn sufficiently. The music I most naturally make is either acoustic stuff with weird chords and stuff or Alternative rock with a lot of progressive elements. So I want to be able to understand odd time signatures better than just knowing that it is in 7/4 etc.
Quote by Virgman
Learn songs you like from start to finish. Practice them until you can play them with very few mistakes at tempo. Then practice them more until you can play them with no mistakes.

Will do!

So all in all I guess my main problem is that I don't know what technique I would benefit the most out of and I also don't know on which end to start. Trying to learn songs I like is a good start I guess, since I would then practice techniques even if I don't know the term for it.
#10
Quote by Zerath
I think your point of view is very inspiring! The things I want a better understanding of when it comes to constructing songs is how harmony works on deeper level as I'm a sucker for that stuff. Also how I can "know" how to make transitions sound good, for example how to make a verse that mainly goes in E can transition well into a chorus in A. So with this in mind, what would you suggest I look at?

When I use modulation in my songs, I usually jump straight to the next key. Some key changes work better than others. Sometimes the song doesn't even need a key change. Modulation from E to A is pretty basic and you can pretty much jump to the next key. The most basic modulation from E to A would be playing an E7 chord before modulating. That's because E7 chord is the V7 chord of A major. It's called the dominant chord and the name tells pretty much - it's a "strong" sounding chord and wants to resolve back to the tonic. That's the simplest way to modulate - playing the V chord of the new key before modulating. It doesn't always work of course.

If you are having troubles with connecting two parts in different keys, the key change may not be the problem. Remember that you can play the same thing in any key. So first if you have E and A major parts, play both in E major. If that doesn't work, you know that it's not the key change that doesn't make them work. Though sometimes two parts work together only if you modulate to the right key. What's the last chord of that part? Maybe use it as the V chord. For example if the last chord of your progression is E, you could modulate to A pretty easily. And if it's A, you could modulate to D pretty easily. This doesn't always work and sometimes it feels better to modulate to a whole different key. It's all about the sound. Sometimes you just hear a modulation.

But again, why the two parts don't work together may not be because of the key change. They just may be too different (look at the rhythm for example). That's why I usually write songs from start to finish. That way you'll never have problems with connecting two separate parts.

Here's a good example of a song that uses modulation many times:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO6giM9UAv0

It starts in F# minor, then modulates to A minor that's the parallel minor of the relative major (A major) of F# minor (sounds complicated, lol). That's really common. Also notice the last chord of the F# minor part - it's E major, the V chord of A minor. So it's modulating in parallel keys and also using the dominant chord to make it sound smooth.

The beginning of the verse is in E minor. It's a straight jump to the next key, but E minor and A minor are really close to each other - there's just one note difference in the key signature. So it's not a big jump. Then it modulates back to A minor and E minor ("running, scrambling..."), both are straight jumps again.

The chorus is in E minor and modulates to G minor that is the parallel minor of the relative major (G major) of E minor. And the last chord of the E minor part is D major that's the V chord of G minor. So it again modulates in parallel keys and uses the dominant chord.

The next part is in A minor. A whole step modulation is really common and fits almost any part. It's sometimes called the "Eurovision modulation" because it has become a cliche in Eurovision songs. It's usually used before the last chorus to give it that kind of "uplifting" feeling. The first guitar solo is in A minor and the second guitar solo is in B minor, again an "Eurovision modulation".

Then it jumps back to A minor. It actually uses a V chord again. The last chord of the guitar solo part is E which is the V chord of A minor. Then it modulates to E minor (straight jump) and the structure is the same as in the first verse.

I'm sure when Iron Maiden guys wrote this song, they weren't thinking like this. The modulations just felt right and sounded good. This is also what I do in my songs. Modulation is really easy to make sound forced. So that's why I would only modulate when it feels right. Not every song needs a modulation. And some songs do. Sometimes it just feels that this part needs to modulate a third up or something like that. It's all about the sound.

And as I said earlier, connecting two parts isn't always about the modulation. If the different keys don't feel right, transpose one of the parts. Try playing both parts in the same key. Maybe that helps. Or then they are too different from each other and just don't work that well together. Another common thing to do is to play a long sustained chord or a drum fill or something like that between the two sections. You could also try adding a part between the two parts that connects them (for example if you want to connect the verse and chorus, maybe try using some kind of pre chorus between them).
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Jan 5, 2014,
#12
Quote by MaggaraMarine

It starts in F# minor, then modulates to A minor that's the parallel minor of the relative major (A major) of F# minor (sounds complicated, lol). That's really common. Also notice the last chord of the F# minor part - it's E major, the V chord of A minor. So it's modulating in parallel keys and also using the dominant chord to make it sound smooth.


The chorus is in E minor and modulates to G minor that is the parallel minor of the relative major (G major) of E minor. And the last chord of the E minor part is D major that's the V chord of G minor. So it again modulates in parallel keys and uses the dominant chord.


If you pay attention, Iron Maiden does this sort of stuff all the time... Going up a major third, as the VII of the first key is the V of the second key.
Quote by Xiaoxi
The Byzantine scale was useful until the Ottoman scale came around and totally annihilated it.
#13
Quote by MaggaraMarine
When I use modulation in my songs, I usually jump straight to the next key. Some key changes work better than others. Sometimes the song doesn't even need a key change. Modulation from E to A is pretty basic and you can pretty much jump to the next key. The most basic modulation from E to A would be playing an E7 chord before modulating. That's because E7 chord is the V7 chord of A major. It's called the dominant chord and the name tells pretty much - it's a "strong" sounding chord and wants to resolve back to the tonic. That's the simplest way to modulate - playing the V chord of the new key before modulating. It doesn't always work of course.

If you are having troubles with connecting two parts in different keys, the key change may not be the problem. Remember that you can play the same thing in any key. So first if you have E and A major parts, play both in E major. If that doesn't work, you know that it's not the key change that doesn't make them work. Though sometimes two parts work together only if you modulate to the right key. What's the last chord of that part? Maybe use it as the V chord. For example if the last chord of your progression is E, you could modulate to A pretty easily. And if it's A, you could modulate to D pretty easily. This doesn't always work and sometimes it feels better to modulate to a whole different key. It's all about the sound. Sometimes you just hear a modulation.

But again, why the two parts don't work together may not be because of the key change. They just may be too different (look at the rhythm for example). That's why I usually write songs from start to finish. That way you'll never have problems with connecting two separate parts.

Here's a good example of a song that uses modulation many times:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO6giM9UAv0

It starts in F# minor, then modulates to A minor that's the parallel minor of the relative major (A major) of F# minor (sounds complicated, lol). That's really common. Also notice the last chord of the F# minor part - it's E major, the V chord of A minor. So it's modulating in parallel keys and also using the dominant chord to make it sound smooth.

The beginning of the verse is in E minor. It's a straight jump to the next key, but E minor and A minor are really close to each other - there's just one note difference in the key signature. So it's not a big jump. Then it modulates back to A minor and E minor ("running, scrambling..."), both are straight jumps again.

The chorus is in E minor and modulates to G minor that is the parallel minor of the relative major (G major) of E minor. And the last chord of the E minor part is D major that's the V chord of G minor. So it again modulates in parallel keys and uses the dominant chord.

The next part is in A minor. A whole step modulation is really common and fits almost any part. It's sometimes called the "Eurovision modulation" because it has become a cliche in Eurovision songs. It's usually used before the last chorus to give it that kind of "uplifting" feeling. The first guitar solo is in A minor and the second guitar solo is in B minor, again an "Eurovision modulation".

Then it jumps back to A minor. It actually uses a V chord again. The last chord of the guitar solo part is E which is the V chord of A minor. Then it modulates to E minor (straight jump) and the structure is the same as in the first verse.

I'm sure when Iron Maiden guys wrote this song, they weren't thinking like this. The modulations just felt right and sounded good. This is also what I do in my songs. Modulation is really easy to make sound forced. So that's why I would only modulate when it feels right. Not every song needs a modulation. And some songs do. Sometimes it just feels that this part needs to modulate a third up or something like that. It's all about the sound.

And as I said earlier, connecting two parts isn't always about the modulation. If the different keys don't feel right, transpose one of the parts. Try playing both parts in the same key. Maybe that helps. Or then they are too different from each other and just don't work that well together. Another common thing to do is to play a long sustained chord or a drum fill or something like that between the two sections. You could also try adding a part between the two parts that connects them (for example if you want to connect the verse and chorus, maybe try using some kind of pre chorus between them).


When you say V chord, is that a chord built around the fifth of the first chord? otherwise I think I need to learn more about this IV V stuff . This sounds as something that can have great use for songwriting which is what I'm best at when it comes to music (as opposed to soloing for example).
#14
Quote by KevinGoetz

With theory, you just haven't seen the material presented in an interesting way yet, I'd bet.


I absolutely agree. Theory is great; it's like the magician showing you how all the tricks are done. Find a good teacher and learn about basic theory in person; it's the best way and you'll be glad you did. Just make sure that you put the theory immediately into practice at each stage.
#15
Quote by Zerath
When you say V chord, is that a chord built around the fifth of the first chord? otherwise I think I need to learn more about this IV V stuff . This sounds as something that can have great use for songwriting which is what I'm best at when it comes to music (as opposed to soloing for example).

Learn the chord functions. That's pretty important stuff. Because D major chord in E minor sounds way different than D major chord in A major. And it does definitely make writing what you want easier. You'll find the chords you are looking for way easier.

V chord means that it's a major chord built on the fifth scale degree. So if we have notes C D E F G A B, the fifth scale degree is of course G. So in this case it would be G major chord (the key would be C major). Every V chord sounds the same. G major in the key of C major sounds exactly the same as E major chord in the key of A major (OK, it's a different pitch but they still sound pretty much the same). They have the same function. This is why we use I IV V instead of C F G. Because C major chord has different function in different keys. You'll get all diatonic chords in a key by harmonizing the scale (if you are in C major, harmonize the C major scale and you get the chords).

You also need to understand what a key means. Key is all about the tonic - that's where everything resolves to. You can feel a pull towards the tonic and when you play the tonic, it releases tension. If you have a major tonic, you are in a major key and if you have a minor tonic, you are in a minor key, no matter what other chords you use. For example C - Eb - F - Ab is in C major, even though it has two chords that don't belong to the key signature. They are called borrowed chords. But why it still is in C major, even though it uses borrowed chords (borrowed from the parallel minor - you usually borrow chords from the parallel keys*), is because it still resolves to C major. C major is the tonic. You can hear it when you play the chords. You are allowed to use all notes, you aren't limited to just the seven notes of the scale.

* Major and minor keys with the same root note are parallel keys - for example C minor and C major. Relative keys are major and minor keys that share the same key signature - for example C major and A minor. Relative keys have the same notes in their scales but they sound different because of the different tonic. If you have a major scale, the relative minor scale is the same notes with root note on the 6th scale degree of the major scale. And if you have a minor scale, the relative major scale is the same notes with the root note on the 3rd scale degree of the minor scale.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#16
What you are talking about sounds like Spanish to me, but I'm gonna start reading "the complete idiot's guide to music theory" now, hopefully that will be a great read!
#17
I know I bring up Josh Urban a lot but those columns broke me outta the same hole you're In. this is the full list of his columns l. it's theory presented but in a so lame its funny way. After you finish, head over to musictheory.net for advanced learning.
.http://www.ultimate-guitar.com/search.php?search_type=columns&value=crusade
Theory is just...wow. I'm getting a bit over my head by trying to learn so much w/o formal educators

Quote by DBKGUITAR
To be a good lead guitar you must be VERY GOOD AT RYTHM

Quote by MaggaraMarine
My motto: Play what the song needs you to play!
#19
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#20
Maybe its time to give it up? Take up another instrument. Reminds of that quote that went like someday you might wake up and realise you just aren't that good at guitar.