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#1
As a follow on from "why's theory got a bad rep", how about this for you to consider ...

Imagine you had a brief to re-brand music theory, to make it appealing to the doubter/misbeliever. One part of your brief is to very broadly envision what kind of persons are like this, such as pre-teens, hormone-swimming teenagers, long-time players stuck in a rut ... who are these?

Imagine you had a couple of short paragraphs to write the copy for that, to really speak to one of those persons. What's that going to be?

(Light blue touch paper and retire :-) )
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Sep 22, 2015,
#2
Theory doesn't limit you or take away your creativity. It only makes you understand what's happening in music. I mean, how cool would it be to just be able to listen to your favorite song and instantly be able to tell what's happening in it? There's no right or wrong in music. There's no right or wrong in theory either - anything you hear on your favorite records can be explained with theory. Theory doesn't tell you what to do, it only gives you tools.
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
#3
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Theory doesn't limit you or take away your creativity. It only makes you understand what's happening in music. I mean, how cool would it be to just be able to listen to your favorite song and instantly be able to tell what's happening in it? There's no right or wrong in music. There's no right or wrong in theory either - anything you hear on your favorite records can be explained with theory. Theory doesn't tell you what to do, it only gives you tools.



I like that, MM.

I keep on thinking that the name should be "Music Tools" or equivalent, to capture how most of us apply theory. What do you reckon?
#4
Mine would be:

If you don't think you need to learn theory then don't. The rest of us could use less competition anyways.

But seriously Mag's is good.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#5
Quote by jerrykramskoy
I like that, MM.

I keep on thinking that the name should be "Music Tools" or equivalent, to capture how most of us apply theory. What do you reckon?


Thit is your worst idea yet Jerry. It's like why don't we rename Maths and call it
"Calculating tools" to make it more appealing to young people? See how terrible it sounds now?

One does not simply "apply" theory. It's a framework, a reference library, but only for a specific context. Try using dominant modulations in other temperaments for example, they won't work.
Also, you don't make music theory appealing to people, people become appealing to music theory. Trying to convince someone to learn music theory is pointless, they need to have the curiosity and dedication to music first.
Last edited by GoldenGuitar at Sep 22, 2015,
#6
I like JP's. (If you don't think you need it, you probably don't.)

Mine might be:

"If you're a genius with a great ear, you can do without theory.
If you're not (yet...), why not give yourself a head start?"

"You're in a weird and strange new land. How would you like a map? No pressure..."
#8
By definition - Music theory is the study of the practices and possibilities of music. It generally derives from observation of how musicians and composers make music, but includes hypothetical speculation. But it seems that when we say music theory, we automatically think scales, modes, ect. When music theory could be as simple as talking about how I write better music upside down. Not which scales or chords I use. Idk
#9
Quote by mabbamam
But it seems that when we say music theory, we automatically think scales, modes, ect. When music theory could be as simple as talking about how I write better music upside down. Not which scales or chords I use. Idk


Every rock beginner is indeed obsessed with scales. To me, theory is just about understanding how different sounds work together in context. It's also a priceless analytical tool that'll help you learn from your influences a lot more efficiently. Not to mention that's it's a useful tool in communication, it helps you to understand not only music, but other musicians as well.

To answer Jerry, there is indeed no need to re-brand theory. If you don't want to learn it, that's fine, your choice. If you actively campaign against it, you're a moron. If you think that you don't need to learn it, you're probably just making up excuses because you're lazy. But none of that matters to me, if people want to be ignorant let them be ignorant, I don't have to care
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#10
hmm..make theory more appealing..sexier..less calories..no sugar..less carbs..no gluten..fat free..enhances your immune system..increases your credit rating..improves you gas milage..makes your internet connection more secure..does not judge your life choices..raises your IQ by 20 points..comes in candy apple red and rich mint green .. goes great with any pasta dish..approved by the heart association..women love it..safe for kids of all ages..improves dental check ups..adds 4% to savings accounts..its a great doggy treat..(cats love it too!!)
play well

wolf
#11
Quote by wolflen
hmm..make theory more appealing..sexier..less calories..no sugar..less carbs..no gluten..fat free..enhances your immune system..increases your credit rating..improves you gas milage..makes your internet connection more secure..does not judge your life choices..raises your IQ by 20 points..comes in candy apple red and rich mint green .. goes great with any pasta dish..approved by the heart association..women love it..safe for kids of all ages..improves dental check ups..adds 4% to savings accounts..its a great doggy treat..(cats love it too!!)


And the winner is ... :-)
#12
Quote by Kevätuhri
Every rock beginner is indeed obsessed with scales. To me, theory is just about understanding how different sounds work together in context. It's also a priceless analytical tool that'll help you learn from your influences a lot more efficiently. Not to mention that's it's a useful tool in communication, it helps you to understand not only music, but other musicians as well.

To answer Jerry, there is indeed no need to re-brand theory. If you don't want to learn it, that's fine, your choice. If you actively campaign against it, you're a moron. If you think that you don't need to learn it, you're probably just making up excuses because you're lazy. But none of that matters to me, if people want to be ignorant let them be ignorant, I don't have to care


Kevatuhri ... the way you expressed what theory is to you is something non-scary, non-"dry", and appealing. This is what I'm getting at.

As for your 2nd para, I hear what you're saying. and agree mostly ... but there may still be something in turningaway from laziness based on how theory is "presented".
#14
Quote by GoldenGuitar
Thit is your worst idea yet Jerry. It's like why don't we rename Maths and call it
"Calculating tools" to make it more appealing to young people? See how terrible it sounds now?

One does not simply "apply" theory. It's a framework, a reference library, but only for a specific context. Try using dominant modulations in other temperaments for example, they won't work.
Also, you don't make music theory appealing to people, people become appealing to music theory. Trying to convince someone to learn music theory is pointless, they need to have the curiosity and dedication to music first.


You got a point (the rename) ... you've also hit the mail on the head with "Trying to convince someone to learn music theory is pointless, they need to have the curiosity and dedication to music first". Back to you ... what picques that curiosity??

Worse ... what kills that curiosity??
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Sep 23, 2015,
#15
Quote by jerrykramskoy
You got a point (the rename) ... you've also hit the mail on the head with "Trying to convince someone to learn music theory is pointless, they need to have the curiosity and dedication to music first". Back to you ... what picques that curiosity??


I think what Golden meant here is that if you're actually interested in learning how to play properly, you'll naturally start to get interested in music theory. As in, that the desire to learn theory is a byproduct of your desire to play the instrument. It occurs naturally when you have a passion to learn more about the instrument and music in general. I think that your question about the "curiosity" is a bit weird, I mean why would you play guitar if you're not interested in it?

I have a really hard time phrasing this in a comfortable way, so I hope you understood the point
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#16
I would simply say this, theory is giving names to the sounds you already know how to make. Nothing more, nothing less. Just like you knew how a word sounded before you knew how it was spelled, theory works in the same way, you hear a sound you like and in order to help you recreate it more effectively and communicate it to other people you learn how to express that sound in your own language instead of the language of music.

When i began playing i too thought that theory was one of those things that restricted you or that theory were rules. But it is simply giving names to common relationships in music. Nowadays i love theory. I transcribe stuff every day and learn to understand how the things i hear my favorite players do work and then work those concepts into my playing. And when i run into something i don't understand i am thrilled, because then i have something new to ask my professors about.
#17
Quote by Kevätuhri
I think what Golden meant here is that if you're actually interested in learning how to play properly, you'll naturally start to get interested in music theory. As in, that the desire to learn theory is a byproduct of your desire to play the instrument. It occurs naturally when you have a passion to learn more about the instrument and music in general. I think that your question about the "curiosity" is a bit weird, I mean why would you play guitar if you're not interested in it?

I have a really hard time phrasing this in a comfortable way, so I hope you understood the point

I don't completely agree with that. There are a lot of great musicians who couldn't give a damn about theory. That's mostly because they have misunderstood it (or they have been taught theory too "theoretically", like I was - and that's why they may not see a use for it).

Many times they actually kind of understand theory (in practice), but they just have their own explanations for stuff. They don't know the "correct" names and explanations. They can't name stuff, they only know it by ear in practice. They do understand music, but I wouldn't say they know theory. That's why we have theory - to describe music with words. It also helps with communicating musical ideas.

As somebody said in the other thread, to many people theory = "complex things that I don't know about music". They don't understand that they actually already know some theory.


I think this thread is useful. Music theory as a word has a pretty negative vibe to it in other people's minds, and that's why even good musicians may want to avoid it. The teaching methods should be changed to something a lot more practical. Well, this is what I'm trying to do when I become a music theory teacher.
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
#18
Quote by Kevätuhri
Every rock beginner is indeed obsessed with scales.
Only if they've been fed the BS that scales are important.
When I was a beginner (OK it was a l-o-o-o-n-g time ago...) what obsessed us was songs, riffs, chords, sounds, FX.
Quote by Kevätuhri

To me, theory is just about understanding how different sounds work together in context. It's also a priceless analytical tool that'll help you learn from your influences a lot more efficiently. Not to mention that's it's a useful tool in communication, it helps you to understand not only music, but other musicians as well.
No disagreement there!
Quote by Kevätuhri

To answer Jerry, there is indeed no need to re-brand theory. If you don't want to learn it, that's fine, your choice. If you actively campaign against it, you're a moron. If you think that you don't need to learn it, you're probably just making up excuses because you're lazy. But none of that matters to me, if people want to be ignorant let them be ignorant, I don't have to care
+100!
Why do any of us care why anyone else should learn theory?

I don't mean this thread is a waste of time... it keeps us entertained anyhow.
Last edited by jongtr at Sep 22, 2015,
#19
I don't like the idea that music theory is some monolithic thing to learn. There are a lot of different facets to what could fall under the umbrella of "theory." The fact that it's been "branded" at all as anything is part of the problem. People who doubt theory shouldn't learn it. They can take their own path and come up with their own results.
#20
Quote by MaggaraMarine
I don't completely agree with that. There are a lot of great musicians who couldn't give a damn about theory. That's mostly because they have misunderstood it (or they have been taught theory too "theoretically", like I was - and that's why they may not see a use for it).

Many times they actually kind of understand theory (in practice), but they just have their own explanations for stuff. They don't know the "correct" names and explanations. They can't name stuff, they only know it by ear in practice. They do understand music, but I wouldn't say they know theory. That's why we have theory - to describe music with words. It also helps with communicating musical ideas.

As somebody said in the other thread, to many people theory = "complex things that I don't know about music". They don't understand that they actually already know some theory.


I think this thread is useful. Music theory as a word has a pretty negative vibe to it in other people's minds, and that's why even good musicians may want to avoid it. The teaching methods should be changed to something a lot more practical. Well, this is what I'm trying to do when I become a music theory teacher.


MM - your last paragraph is exactly my position ... I really do believe collectively the negative vibe can be replaced.

I'm not convinced on the argument that someone will (succeed in) learn(ing) it because they are interested in improving ... I know a load of people that reached the desire to learn it, but then got put off / scared off because of the way it is presented. Which is a terrible state of affairs, given how easy it really is, underneath all the jargon and notation.
#21
Quote by Kevätuhri
I think what Golden meant here is that if you're actually interested in learning how to play properly, you'll naturally start to get interested in music theory. As in, that the desire to learn theory is a byproduct of your desire to play the instrument. It occurs naturally when you have a passion to learn more about the instrument and music in general. I think that your question about the "curiosity" is a bit weird, I mean why would you play guitar if you're not interested in it?

I have a really hard time phrasing this in a comfortable way, so I hope you understood the point


Yes, you're right ... re-reading my comment. What I was thinking was, "what kills that curiousity"? Which I have seen killed stone dead, time and time again. And from these folk, it came down to opportunity cost.
#22
Music theory is a descriptive framework forced into a prescriptivist frame by the ignorant and overzealous. It's fine as is, but people who idolize it are concerning.

Quote by GoldenGuitar at #33607029
It's like why don't we rename Maths and call it
"Calculating tools" to make it more appealing to young people? See how terrible it sounds now?

If only math didn't expand beyond number theory
Glad to cross paths with you on this adventure called life
Quote by Jet Penguin
lots of flirting with the other key without confirming. JUST LIKE THEIR LOVE IN THE MOVIE OH DAMN.
Quote by Hail
you're acting like you have perfect pitch or something
#23
Call the circle of fifths the circle of cool.

home key -> the crib

chord progression -> dudewalk
#24
Quote by NeoMvsEu

If only math didn't expand beyond number theory

If only music didn't expand beyond tonality and the equal temperament tuning system.
#25
^ but that's hardly a fair comparison. Music theory can be seen as the tools of music so long as people apply them in the right context. You wouldn't use twelve tone anything for music that uses microtones.
On the other hand, saying that math is just calculations neglects the other systems (group, discrete, topology, graph, etc.) and is thus inaccurate.
#26
Quote by NeoMvsEu
^ but that's hardly a fair comparison. Music theory can be seen as the tools of music so long as people apply them in the right context. You wouldn't use twelve tone anything for music that uses microtones.
On the other hand, saying that math is just calculations neglects the other systems (group, discrete, topology, graph, etc.) and is thus inaccurate.

Look, it was hard to come up with something all encompassing on the spot okay?
As a side note you could still apply the concepts of serialism in the context of microtonality. The thing is I don't see music theory as tools. It's simply a small part of a bigger conceptual framework. Like a small subset of Maths or Physics.
#27
@Golden, it may be useful to wait and consider things before writing ^^ The world isn't waiting for us to respond, even if our input could be useful.

Anyways, serialism and microtonality are still topics under the macrocosm that is music, and I think I'd be hard-pressed to find a a cohesive argument saying that they're not at all related to theory. (also I'd be interested in what serialism would look like in the context of microtonality, seeing that serialism deals with a discrete system by construction, microtonality not necessarily so.)

Personally, I think of music theory as a set of frameworks with which we try to contain the practices in the large topic that is music ;D
Glad to cross paths with you on this adventure called life
Quote by Jet Penguin
lots of flirting with the other key without confirming. JUST LIKE THEIR LOVE IN THE MOVIE OH DAMN.
Quote by Hail
you're acting like you have perfect pitch or something
#28
I don't understand why people hate music theory.

To me, somebody who wants to study music theory comes off as intellectual and artsy. The guys who hate music theory, on the other hand, are the "cool kids" in school who hate doing anything form of studying at all.
#29
@Neo: I wasn't saying that serialism or microtonality wasn't related to music theory.
#30
Quote by triface
I don't understand why people hate music theory.

To me, somebody who wants to study music theory comes off as intellectual and artsy. The guys who hate music theory, on the other hand, are the "cool kids" in school who hate doing anything form of studying at all.


I get you, but I've seen that happen in reverse. The cool kids bragging about how they know theory (often trying hard to correct and one-up other musicians) and the artsy people not really caring about studying as long as they can express themselves. Not arguing with you or anything, just pointing it out.

I don't really have anything against people who don't want to learn theory, I mean that's their choice. With a good ear and a creative mind those people can still create great music. But people who go around claiming that theory is unnecessary or even harmful? Fuck them. Those are the people I really don't get.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#31
I don't get why people think Music Theory is about the past. It starts with Classical era music, but with some diligence it's really not a steep hill to get to modern concepts. People get hung up believing that musical conventions of the past are rules for today's music.

Music theory is like Linguistics - it's not about rules, but how to describe and analyze patterns. Knowing what music has done in the past helps you understand what music today is doing.
#32
I can only think of one genuine reason why learning theory might be a good idea.

Occasionally, when messing around you come up with something good by chance. If you know theory you can analyse and understand what you did that sounded cool and do it again. If not, you can't.
#33
Quote by Jehannum
I can only think of one genuine reason why learning theory might be a good idea.


You came to the wrong neighborhood.

Seriously though, I hope you're not serious. The reason you stated is good. But certainly not the only one.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#34
Quote by Jehannum

Occasionally, when messing around you come up with something good by chance. If you know theory you can analyse and understand what you did that sounded cool and do it again. If not, you can't.

But I don't mess around.
#35
Quote by Jehannum
I can only think of one genuine reason why learning theory might be a good idea.

Occasionally, when messing around you come up with something good by chance. If you know theory you can analyse and understand what you did that sounded cool and do it again. If not, you can't.

Being able to communicate effectively is another big one.
^^The above is a Cryptic Metaphor^^


"To know the truth of history is to realize its ultimate myth and its inevitable ambiguity." Everything is made up and the facts don't matter.


MUSIC THEORY LINK
#36
Quote by cdgraves
I don't get why people think Music Theory is about the past. It starts with Classical era music, but with some diligence it's really not a steep hill to get to modern concepts. People get hung up believing that musical conventions of the past are rules for today's music.

Music theory is like Linguistics - it's not about rules, but how to describe and analyze patterns. Knowing what music has done in the past helps you understand what music today is doing.


No, it really doesn't.
#38
Quote by jazz_rock_feel
For the most part yeah it does.


How so?
#39
Because that's the origin point for tonal theory as you know it. I mean technically it would be late baroque not classical but let's not be picky. Which isn't too say you need to learn classical harmony but it is where the roots of modern theory are.
#40
A lot of this stuff we do these days started to get systematised at around the time Bach wrote Das Wohltemperierte Klavier. When people were like "Holy c**p, we can modulate now!?", and Bach was like " Duh, no s**t. Here's an instruction manual with every key in it".
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