#1
So, I'm pretty new at playing guitar, and I just started to REALLY learn about modes and scales and whatnot. I'll be honest, it really sucks. My question is(and I think I already know the answer) how often do you actually use these in songwriting and playing, versus just playing and seeing what happens?
#2
Leave modes, now. You don´t want to deal with modes until you have a good basis of theoretical knowledge, especially since there is way to much wrong information about them (even around here).

You don´t need theoretical knowledge per say to write and play, it is mostly used for communicating and explaining stuff to other musicians. The most important aspect is a good ear, that is a must have if you want to play great and write great.

For starting out with theory however, i would recommend going through the lessons on the site "musictheory.net". It is a good start, if you go through the lessons thoroughly and don´t move on until you are sure you understand the lesson you are on.
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#3
Hi Mad dog.

I know I'm going to get flack for saying this but, it really doesn't matter. Well ok, it matters a little.

The real question is how long have you been playing? There is a certain skill threshold that makes learning the theory easier because you are not held back by your fingers and you can just play what you are learning.

If you still have a weak pinky or are still struggling with alternate picking then it may be best to leave the theory for a little bit and rather learn some songs by your favourite artists.

There are a few really cool things about knowing theory that are worth mentioning. 1) The ability to improvise over what someone else is playing. 2) It makes song writing much quicker and easier because you don't have to spend a ton of time trying every note on the fretboard. 3) It makes communicating with other musicians much easier.

There are other benefits that maybe someone else will add in.

Bottom line. Some people write while keeping all the theory in mind and others write what sounds good to their ear. Neither is wrong but having the ability to do both is helpful.

My suggestion for learning while not sucking all the fun out of playing is to just play what you feel, see what happens, make it sound good to your ear. Then go the the theory and try and find out what you did and if you made any "mistakes", Now play it the musically correct way, you may only be shifting a few notes down or up by a fret.

Compare and decide what sounds good to your ear, then stick with that.
Last edited by Victorgeiger at Jul 5, 2014,
#4
Quote by maddog61
So, I'm pretty new at playing guitar, and I just started to REALLY learn about modes and scales and whatnot. I'll be honest, it really sucks. My question is(and I think I already know the answer) how often do you actually use these in songwriting and playing, versus just playing and seeing what happens?

Yeah they crop up in certain tunes if you search... and TRANSCRIBE hard enough. Really dig into the heart of not so obvious tunes by TRANSCRIBING.

You'll find little gems of modal harmony in there...

Chorus 1:09 F Aeolian

Fm - Eb/F - Db/F

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qt2mbGP6vFI
Last edited by mdc at Jul 5, 2014,
#5
Quote by maddog61
So, I'm pretty new at playing guitar, and I just started to REALLY learn about modes and scales and whatnot. I'll be honest, it really sucks. My question is(and I think I already know the answer) how often do you actually use these in songwriting and playing, versus just playing and seeing what happens?

Stick to these scales:

  • Major Pentatonic
  • minor pentatonic
  • Major scale
  • Minor scales (natural minor, harmonic, and melodic minor and how they work together)
Si
#6
Kind of hard to say because the (little) theory I know is sort of so ingrained that it's sort of second-nature. But i know the sound of it, as well. So does that mean I'm using the theory or not? I dunno.

I guess I would say that virtually everything can be explained theoretically (that's not really the question you're asking, I'm not a politician, honest ). So technically theory is very useful, from that point of view. But at the same time you can write good songs, or play well without theory, too- not really without it, because what you're doing *is* theoretical, just you might not be thinking about it theoretically.

If that makes sense.

It's up to you, basically. If you can be bothered, and sort of half enjoy it, then read up on theory (at least until it gets too arcane or boring). If you're really getting nowhere, or worse feel that it's just confusing you and doing more harm than good, then stop (or try to find someone to explain it better to you).

EDIT: and yeah as everyone has been saying, don't worry about modes until you have the major and minor scales down pat (and probably the blues scale too). because that probably will confuse you.
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#7
The best way to develop your ear (in my opinion) is to learn scales and really get the sound into your head to the point where you can make something up using the scales in your head and then play the same thing on the guitar.

I'd advise against going too deep into modes until you have a btter foundation, if you really want to learn them just treat them as scales and ignore the whole "playing in a mode" thing for now.

Note that you can develop your ear using different methods as well. It's a matter of preference, really.
#8
Quote by Victorgeiger


The real question is how long have you been playing?


I've only been playing guitar for a little over a year, but I've been playing euphonium in a my high school symphonic band for seven years or something, so I have a little exposure to theory.

My real question is if learning theory will help me down the road,especially since I think coming up with my own stuff is more fun than learning how to play other people's stuff.
#9
Quote by maddog61
I've only been playing guitar for a little over a year, but I've been playing euphonium in a my high school symphonic band for seven years or something, so I have a little exposure to theory.

My real question is if learning theory will help me down the road,especially since I think coming up with my own stuff is more fun than learning how to play other people's stuff.

Theory is more useful for coming up with your own stuff than it is learning how to play other people's stuff.