#1
I am at the point where my musical creativity is being greatly handicapped by my lack of musical knowledge. I have no knowledge of music theory and I just feel as if my creative potential has been sapped up at this point.

I've written dozens of short pieces that I absolutely love but I've hit a roadblock where I just can't comprehend where to take all of those pieces and complete them into full songs. I feel like what I've created is my songwriting at it's maximum potential and I can't go any further to complete my songs. I feel like I've peaked with what my knowledge and experience is capable of producing and I'm wondering if music theory will help me expand my skills further.

I'm not good with song structure, knowing what notes go together, how to transition one part of a song to another, how to transcribe music from my mind to my instrument, etc.

Would music theory be the key to help me out of this place I'm in? If so where should I start? Should I just learn anything and everything related to music theory? Just I start with lessons? Thanks
Last edited by DudE132 at Apr 21, 2016,
#2
Quote by DudE132
I just feel as if my creative potential has been sapped up at this point.


I feel like this is a good thing, as you're starting to realize that you need to get better. But trust me, your creativity has definitely not gone anywhere.

Quote by DudE132
'm not good with song structure, knowing what notes go together, how to transition one part of a song to another, how to transcribe music from my mind to my instrument, etc.


What helps with all of that is learning music by ear and analyzing it. "Transcribing music from your mind to your instrument" is a prime example of a skill you can develop with ear training.

And trying to figure out how your favorite songs work goes a long way if you want to understand song structure and transitions. You should start by studying how your favorite artists do it.

Quote by DudE132
A) Should I just learn anything and everything related to music theory? B) Just I start with lessons? Thanks


A) No. There's a lot of trivia and deeper theory that probably won't help you. You should look into intervals and how to build chords and scales using intervals. Studying a bit of functional harmony and roman numeral analysis will also help a lot, especially in genres like pop, country and jazz. If you combine your knowledge in chords, scales and intervals with the analysis of your favorite songs you'll go pretty far.

B) If you can, yes. Get a teacher, get lessons.
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
#3
A good start would be this ( I've given you the starting roadmap, but you'll need to spend some time researching each step) :

1) learn the C Major scale and its intervals ( 2nd, 4th, 5th etc.). Learn what a major third, minor third, and flat 5 are. You don't need to know the entire fretboard to start, but learn your way around it and learn how to name the intervals.

2) learn the harmonized C major scale - in basic triads, then in 7th chords. Each note of the C major Scale has an associated chord - play them in order to hear it in action.

3) learn how to analyze chord progressions using the roman numeral system - i.e. learn what a II, V, I progression is - In C major that would be a Dminor ( II) , G (V), C (I).

4) now try analyzing a chord progression from a song you know in C major - learn to analyse chord progressions using the roman numeral system so that you can see the different common patterns in various styles - for example :

II, V, I is the basic jazz progression
I, IV,V is the basic Blues progression,
IV, V, VI is in every epic Iron Maiden riff ever

Learn to map out the progressions you prefer. The point of this is so that you can see progressions from a larger perspective, not just the actual notes being played. The II,V, I progression will sound identical in the key of C, D, or F - it doesn't matter what the key is, what matters is the progression ( this is the knowledge you want as a writer) - this is why you can move a capo around a guitar and the songs still sound the same.

5) start analyzing the form of songs - verse, chorus, bridge, etc. - map out your favorites - this is important - you'll start to get a feel for structures after doing this for a while.

I'll let others chime in, but those would be my recommended starting points.
#4
90% of music theory is very simple, and very easy to understand. Learning it on the instrument is another story, but you could learn it very quickly. In probably as much time as you've spent talking about, and reading about whether or not you should learn it.
#5
WIth appropriate direction from a decent teacher, yes, a better understanding of theory will introduce you to new sounds ... either through the application of new chords / scale sources, or through combining stuiff you already know, but in ways you may not have considered.

E.g. Against groove on Am7 chord, try playing a melody just using the notes from G triad.

E.g.or try playing a melody using Bm pentatonic.

E.g.or try using a fragment of melody from Gm pentatonic, at the end of melody from Am pentatonic, and come back to Am pentatonic after it.

This is all comes from an understanding of relationships that exist between scales, chords, and tonal centre.

Once you hear these new sounds, different ideas can follow pretty quickly.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Apr 22, 2016,
#6
Quote by DudE132
Should I just learn anything and everything related to music theory? Just I start with lessons?


I will post this video on every question like this till the day I die:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fqgZcv4uJO8

Learn the basics: the diatonic (major) scale, scale degrees (learn the sound that each note in a scale brings to the table), basic chord construction, and some common progressions. From there, the world of music theory is yours to explore; have fun, and learn the stuff that inspires you.
Quote by Fat Lard
post of the year, thank you
#7
Quote by DudE132
I am at the point where my musical creativity is being greatly handicapped by my lack of musical knowledge. I have no knowledge of music theory and I just feel as if my creative potential has been sapped up at this point.

I've written dozens of short pieces that I absolutely love but I've hit a roadblock where I just can't comprehend where to take all of those pieces and complete them into full songs. I feel like what I've created is my songwriting at it's maximum potential and I can't go any further to complete my songs. I feel like I've peaked with what my knowledge and experience is capable of producing and I'm wondering if music theory will help me expand my skills further.

I'm not good with song structure, knowing what notes go together, how to transition one part of a song to another, how to transcribe music from my mind to my instrument, etc.

Would music theory be the key to help me out of this place I'm in? If so where should I start? Should I just learn anything and everything related to music theory? Just I start with lessons? Thanks


Based upon what you have shared, personally I think you'd be a very good candidate for learning music theory. I would propose that knowledge definitely opens more intelligent options.

So, really my other question would be, what do you bring to the table? Can you enlist a music teacher? Can you buy books? Invest in online resources? How much time do you have to commit to the process, and work at it?

I think that an approach with a good structure which builds progressively and is not over complicated, or mind numbingly boring is your best bet.

Best,

Sean
#8
Quote by Sean0913

So, really my other question would be, what do you bring to the table? Can you enlist a music teacher? Can you buy books? Invest in online resources? How much time do you have to commit to the process, and work at it?

I am open to any and all options but I do have one set back. I play acoustic guitar but due to shoulder issues (Which I'm working to fix) I can't practice for hours a day to master the instrument. This is one thing that limits me as I can't take the time to learn/play songs which is something that would expose me to many new sounds.

One of the main struggles I face with creating my music is that I am limited to what I know. The sounds that I am familiar with are the ones I constantly go back to when trying to create music because they are really all I know. I've never learned songs, scales, chords, etc. My knowledge is limited to what I discover when messing around with my guitar or experimenting in Guitar Pro.

It's kind of like I'm trying to write a book without knowing the entire alphabet. The sounds I know make up only a small portion of what exists. I need to discover and experience more to complete my music in the same way one would need to learn the alphabet to truly complete their book without leaving any holes in it. There are a lot of holes in my music that need to be filled in but I just can't figure out what to do next. It doesn't help that I have OCD which latches itself onto my music. I'm not satisfied unless it's perfect which is why I think I'd be much better off with music theory as opposed to without.


And thanks to all of the replies. I'm paying close attention to all of them and appreciate the help. I'll definitely be saving all of this info.
#9
Branch out to different music too sometimes, outside influences are the best things you can find.
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
#10
This is what I have been saying for years. All the tutorials on the net and even youtube are so so basic, I don't know why. Preliminary sight reading, ear training and harmony is all that is available on the net.

I have been stuck at the same level for 8 years, I guess I just need advanced lessons. I know interval construction, I know the caged system, I can read tab and notation, I have good technique, I can play advanced songs when i get the time. But, I can't solo over backing tracks at all, and I can't write my own music at all what so ever. This is because I don't know anything about melodic phrasing, and resolving chords etc, But I need lessons, because there is nothing out there at all apart from stupid licks and half truths that don't improve your playing at all,

I want to move to Vegas , I hope there are pro guitar teachers in Vegas, if not Hollywood.
#11
Quote by DudE132
I am open to any and all options but I do have one set back. I play acoustic guitar but due to shoulder issues (Which I'm working to fix) I can't practice for hours a day to master the instrument. This is one thing that limits me as I can't take the time to learn/play songs which is something that would expose me to many new sounds.

One of the main struggles I face with creating my music is that I am limited to what I know. The sounds that I am familiar with are the ones I constantly go back to when trying to create music because they are really all I know. I've never learned songs, scales, chords, etc. My knowledge is limited to what I discover when messing around with my guitar or experimenting in Guitar Pro.

It's kind of like I'm trying to write a book without knowing the entire alphabet. The sounds I know make up only a small portion of what exists. I need to discover and experience more to complete my music in the same way one would need to learn the alphabet to truly complete their book without leaving any holes in it. There are a lot of holes in my music that need to be filled in but I just can't figure out what to do next. It doesn't help that I have OCD which latches itself onto my music. I'm not satisfied unless it's perfect which is why I think I'd be much better off with music theory as opposed to without.


And thanks to all of the replies. I'm paying close attention to all of them and appreciate the help. I'll definitely be saving all of this info.


Well, then, good news for you.

It doesn't take hours a day to learn the fretboard. Mastery of an instrument is a lifelong journey. And others will let you know, when you reach that point.

As far as your shoulder issues, I don't know what, if any effect that may have....but it's a good idea to be able to play your instrument without damaging yourself or discomfort.

You're points are very well stated and in my opinion spot on, when you wrote:

It's kind of like I'm trying to write a book without knowing the entire alphabet. The sounds I know make up only a small portion of what exists. I need to discover and experience more to complete my music in the same way one would need to learn the alphabet to truly complete their book without leaving any holes in it. There are a lot of holes in my music that need to be filled in but I just can't figure out what to do next. It doesn't help that I have OCD which latches itself onto my music. I'm not satisfied unless it's perfect which is why I think I'd be much better off with music theory as opposed to without.

I 1000% agree with you there. So now that you have reached this level of clarity, the next thing then is for you to decide what you are going to do about it.

I'm not sure if you have identified an array of options that you have found, that might address this or not. Or are you just asking for us to help identify the ones we may know of, that might address these areas of growth you are seeking?

Many people are so adept to analyze their shortcomings with surgical precision. The problem is crystal clear perfect.

But then once that's done and we are all looking at the same page, nodding our heads "Uh huh...yep,, thats it...." then the most remarkable thing happens...

They do nothing. They experience paralysis by analysis. Their number one roadblock is they, at the core of it, will not move. They will not take action.

Where do you see yourself in this process?

Best,

Sean
#12
Quote by 094568029434geo
This is what I have been saying for years. All the tutorials on the net and even youtube are so so basic, I don't know why. Preliminary sight reading, ear training and harmony is all that is available on the net.

I have been stuck at the same level for 8 years, I guess I just need advanced lessons. I know interval construction, I know the caged system, I can read tab and notation, I have good technique, I can play advanced songs when i get the time. But, I can't solo over backing tracks at all, and I can't write my own music at all what so ever. This is because I don't know anything about melodic phrasing, and resolving chords etc, But I need lessons, because there is nothing out there at all apart from stupid licks and half truths that don't improve your playing at all,

I want to move to Vegas , I hope there are pro guitar teachers in Vegas, if not Hollywood.


You could get skype lessons for a lot of great players, in all likelihood. If you wanted to learn acoustic guitar, I'd probably hook you up, but for electric, I am not seasoned at advanced picking techniques and stuff like that.

The reason the beginner stuff is all that's on the internet, is that's what the biggest demand is for. There aren't that many people that make it farther than that, and fewer that could teach it well.

Writing and improvising is not just knowledge and method though. Think of it like cooking. You could say "I can't cook because I don't have an understanding of ingredients and how they work." and that's fair, but it's not really just logic that will get you there. It's a naming process, you name salt, and salty, and you experience what it is like, and what it does to dishes, and that's how you get it. Then you understand salty, and then you can taste, and know "I think this needs more salt" and so you add salt. But it is not a checklist or a method that you follow to create a good dish. It's naming and understanding through experience so you can craft to your own taste.

Most of that is to do with the key. I would need to watch you play, but I think I know exactly what I'd show you. You are at the perfect level, imo. I would prefer teaching someone at your level, than a beginner by far.