#1
Hi everyone.
I am a guitar player for 10 years. MEtal and Rock are my preferences
But recently ive been exploring the theory and composition methods beside playing every song that i wanted. I question myself now "how and why?".

I am kinda stuck with pentatonics and minor scales, obviously blues scales too.
My favorite guitar player is petrucci. But i kinda create my own sound, dont like to mimic a guitarist own style.

So, my question, in order to understant the composition methods of petrucci, jeff beck, skolnick, hammet, whatever..etc.. Is there any dvd, book, website, etc that i can relly on in order to learn how to compose or at least understand how they do it?

Tired of pentatonic and minor scale with minor backing tracks.

Some help would be apreciated

THank you very much
Last edited by tomasmaria6 at Apr 25, 2016,
#2
Moved to MT as it's more a compositon/theory question rather than a technique thing.
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#3
While I vaguely remember Petrucci having his own videos on some things of his playing, I'm not certain if those also extend to his manner of composition as well. You'd have to look into that yourself, I'm sure they're still being sold somewhere.

Aside from that, I feel two-faced saying this, but as much as it is beating a dead horse, learning how music theory works and using that knowledge to interpret what is happening in the music you enjoy can help.

However, and this is a but that could impress sir mix-a-lot, from years of teaching music and guitar, I do feel I must warn you from the dangers of it and why I am so tediously careful in giving theoretical information to a pupil, and particularly in what form and manner.

There are several pitfalls that I've found often come with learning music theory. For one, it is a formula to explain and express what one is hearing, so that we can communicate it to another without actually playing it and expecting them to understand that way.

It is not a formula that will automatically make your music sound good, at best you'll be able to colour between the lines. And arguably, that's worse rather than good.

'Good' is after all subjective, and a common pitfall for new scholars is to outright accept the theoretical explanation as a set rule for all music that follows. A piece can have as many tonal centres, modes and rhythmical variants as its composer damn well wants. Music theory is no more than a formula which you can use to understand the sum that made up the parts of the music you apply it to. Given enough skill at analysis, you'll likely be able to see the modes, keys, rhythms and so on in the piece.

But that's all it shall offer, no more. It takes a lot of experience to be able to read through the piece's changes and understand 'why' the composer made certain choices. And even then, the most common 'reason' you'll find is simply that 'it sounded good'. A gut feeling, which is what music in its core is an expression of. That's it. And that is the main problem most musicians have with picking music theory, they seek a route to 'understanding the why', when they're actually walking a path that only leads to understanding the 'what'.

And beware that even understanding the 'what' still will not make you a better composer. Creativity is not the same as understanding. If there is music in you, giving it a chance to come out without the limits of what perceived boundaries the learning of music theory has instilled in you can be a less frustrating path. Certainly, it may feel a slower one, but there is something to be said for the mystery.

Another common, and what I believe to be a much more dangerous problem, is that such a complete understanding can ruin a musician's freedom in the choices they make when composing. They'd shy away from using certain modes over certain progressions or keys, where before ignorance had been bliss. And a composer purposely limiting himself rather than exploring and pushing boundaries will be no more happy than the blind man that pushes forward fumbling in the dark at will.

Very few people are capable of turning that switch off from conscious thought and awareness of what they're doing, be it technical or theoretical, and simply listen to the music that they're creating and then decide whether they like it or not.

And whether you realize it or not, through simply playing you have an intrinsic interpretation of certain notes. They have a certain meaning to you, a colour if you will, and that specifically is what your music embodies. That interpretation of the note is not universal, that interpretation is you as a person. This is a deeply personal thing, that cannot be taught because of this. A minor third can be a very different experience between different musicians, even when played the exact same way over the sae chords and context. Accepting a quick route does not generally give your musical ear a better understanding or an expansion of the colours you already possess, it only tells you that blue and yellow makes green. It won't give that green a meaning to your musical ear, only to your conscious thought.

So in conclusion, learning your general music theory can help if you wish to understand 'what' is going on. But remember that it can ruin the pleasure of discovery, that it can taint your interpretation of feeling music, and that knowing the 'what' is not the key to the 'why'. Because music theory is a formula to explain something that was already there simply because it sounded good to one composer at one time. Rarely the other way around.

The one thing I can truly suggest you learn, is that you train your ear and open your mind to accept all that you hear. Practice solfege to the point that you can understand everything you hear, and see it done on a guitar without having to play it. That guitar is your language, and if you push yourself to use it to learn music you enjoy and accept that as an 'alright, so this fits together', it won't disturb your personal interpretation of music, while still giving you the benefit of more knowledge and thus better but also a natural understanding of music. And most importantly, the music you enjoy hearing.

Good luck
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Last edited by FretboardToAsh at Apr 25, 2016,
#4
^ I would say ear training + theory knowledge is the best way. If you understand theory properly, it can do no harm to you. Ear training is easier if you also know theory. They kind of support each other. You need a good ear to actually understand theory, but theory knowledge also helps you with your ear. If you have no explanations for any of the sounds you are hearing, it is harder to learn them. But if you can name the sounds you are hearing, it's also easier to remember the sound.

If you know theory, it's just easier to figure out what's happening in other people's songs. Obviously you can figure that out on your own too, but it will take a lot more time and effort. It's kind of the same thing as being a self taught guitarist vs taking lessons. Obviously there are many great self taught guitarists but if you have a good teacher, you will learn much faster. Similarly, you can figure out how music "works" just by playing and listening to music (and a lot of good guitarists are like this), but it will be more efficient with theory knowledge.

This is a good video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49alQj7c5ps
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
#5
MM - I have seen many examples where theory has been understandable even where the ear is poor at hearing what's going on. But I whole-heartedly agree that ear training is really important.

FretboardToAsh - You hit the nail on the head where students get the wrong end of the stick about theory, and assume I mustn't play X because theory denies that. Ultimately the ear is the determining factor ... the player and/or the audience. I fell victim to that myself a long time ago, but soon broke out the other side. The other thing that doesn't help is if a student picks up theory books without guidance, and ends up studying a time-period where views on acceptability were very different to current, which of course exacerbates the first issue.

So, theory gives a toolkit of options that can be put to work, recognising the existence of those tools based on looking at how the great composers went about their business ... it's up to the individual how much to take on board, what's uninteresting ...

Ultimately, we're juggling with tension and release, using intervals (and groupings), tone tendencies, and rhythm to (de)-emphasise these tendencies. This can be learned pretty quickly.

For me, the thing that is often missing is the big picture when theory is embarked on, and instead the poor student gets bogged down into a quagmire of minutiae from the off. That, I hate more than anything, as regards music tuition.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Apr 26, 2016,
#6
THanks for the vídeo MaggaraMarine totally worth it. I agree with that guy. I agree with you mate.
FretboardToAsh wise words man. wise words. Thank you very much for taking your time.

At the end of the day. I think basic music theory is imperative to be a good player, or at least, it will diferenciate a good player who can compose with the one who do covers or copy other guitarists style...

I think keys,modes, scales, chords, circle of 5ths, borrowed chords, second dominants, harmonic analysis-- these basic things just improved so so so much my guitar playing style, and didnt prevent me from liberating my own self in my playing pattern.

Look at jmmy page, look at randy rhoads, look at petrucci...if you study their composition methods you will find some cromatic notes? obviously, freedom of speech right?, But you will also find a relationship between everything that is composed: between chords, minor scales, whatever, and that my friends, require a minimal knowledgement of music theory
#7
Hey tomasmaria6,

I totally agree with FretboardToAsh. I met some musicians with a vast knowledge of music theory and, when talking about this or that track, they all tend to overanalyse everything.

I would tell you to think carefully why you really want to learn it. Of course, the more you know the better, as long as you don't use it as a formula. When music becomes a mathematical thing rather than a feeling, in my opinion, it loses its soul.

For becoming a better composer, creativity is what you want to boost. For me, having new experiences and feeling in peace with myself is what actually creates my best tracks. And for that, meditation and socializing helps me a lot. Some other people do yoga and some other have a beer and start working at midnight. Whatever works for you is the way to go and I encourage you to explore different things until you find what is appropriate for you. Yes, I know it sounds crazy and you just asked about music theory, but I personally believe that feeling is way more important than knowledge when it comes to make music.

I'm just telling you my own experience, you may agree or disagree. As I said, my best tracks were made with me just losing myself to the piece of music I had in my head, without knowing anything about the theory behind it. I actually had to re-learn how to play some parts after recording it, since I had already forgot them. And that was the beauty of it.

To your success,

Miguel
#8
Feeling and knowledge aren't mutually exclusive. "Knowledge" only hurts if you have learned something wrong. Music doesn't become a "mathematical thing" if you are aware of the things that are happening in it.

Theory can boost your creativity because if you know theory, it's easier to figure out what's happening in other people's music. And other people's music is where you get your influences.


If you watched the video I posted, it talked about how music theory doesn't tell you what you should do. It tells you what other people have done.
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
#9
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Feeling and knowledge aren't mutually exclusive. "Knowledge" only hurts if you have learned something wrong. Music doesn't become a "mathematical thing" if you are aware of the things that are happening in it.

Theory can boost your creativity because if you know theory, it's easier to figure out what's happening in other people's music. And other people's music is where you get your influences.


If you watched the video I posted, it talked about how music theory doesn't tell you what you should do. It tells you what other people have done.


I totally agree with you. If you just use it for that and not as a starting point for composing.

I'll check the video later when I'm back home.

Cheers,

Miguel
#10
It's a common misconception that theory knowledge makes you some kind of a robot and destroys your creativity and "feeling"/"emotion" because you learn some kind of rules that you somehow aren't allowed to break any more. But that's just not true. Many people think they are breaking the rules when they are actually doing something pretty common. Theory should not be treated as rules. Well, there are certain kind of "rules" (or "common practices" which is the expression I prefer) if you want to write in the style of somebody. Because that's when you need to follow the style, and otherwise it will just not sound like that style. (Just like you wouldn't use "ain't" in formal language, you wouldn't use jazz chords if you wanted to write in the style of Bach for example.) But if you want to just write music, there really are no rules. If it sounds good, it is good. And that's not breaking any rules. Most likely it still has something in common with some other piece that already exists and theorists already have an explanation for what you just did. And if there is no explanation for what you just did, that's fine too - you have created something completely new (but that's pretty unlikely).

Many people who have learned the most basic concepts of music theory think that for example using accidentals is somehow breaking some rules, when in reality there are so many songs that use accidentals that calling that a rule just would make no sense. Also, what's the point with thinking something is "incorrect" in music? I mean, there is no music police that's going to arrest you for using an accidental where it doesn't belong. It just doesn't make sense if you start thinking about it. If it sounds good, it is good. That's the only rule (and you don't really even need to follow it - just write horrible sounding music if you want). And if it sounds good, it usually follows some kind of common practice and there is already an explanation for it.

Theory doesn't replace your ears. You always need to use your ears. Theory is there to support your ears, not to replace them. Knowing theory just makes it much easier to figure out what's happening in a song that you like. If you know theory, it's not any more just abstract sounds. There's some explanation for those sounds and that makes it easier to internalize the sounds. Language is how we understand things and theory is kind of a language - it's a way of describing music without needing to play a note. Obviously it's not perfect and it doesn't replace sound. But if you know a lot of theory, you can kind of already hear what it sounds like before anybody even plays anything.


My point is, it's all about learning theory the correct way. Treat it as an explanation, not as rules that you need to follow.
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
#11
Quote by MaggaraMarine
It's a common misconception that theory knowledge makes you some kind of a robot and destroys your creativity and "feeling"/"emotion" because you learn some kind of rules that you somehow aren't allowed to break any more. But that's just not true. Many people think they are breaking the rules when they are actually doing something pretty common. Theory should not be treated as rules. Well, there are certain kind of "rules" (or "common practices" which is the expression I prefer) if you want to write in the style of somebody. Because that's when you need to follow the style, and otherwise it will just not sound like that style. (Just like you wouldn't use "ain't" in formal language, you wouldn't use jazz chords if you wanted to write in the style of Bach for example.) But if you want to just write music, there really are no rules. If it sounds good, it is good. And that's not breaking any rules. Most likely it still has something in common with some other piece that already exists and theorists already have an explanation for what you just did. And if there is no explanation for what you just did, that's fine too - you have created something completely new (but that's pretty unlikely).

Many people who have learned the most basic concepts of music theory think that for example using accidentals is somehow breaking some rules, when in reality there are so many songs that use accidentals that calling that a rule just would make no sense. Also, what's the point with thinking something is "incorrect" in music? I mean, there is no music police that's going to arrest you for using an accidental where it doesn't belong. It just doesn't make sense if you start thinking about it. If it sounds good, it is good. That's the only rule (and you don't really even need to follow it - just write horrible sounding music if you want). And if it sounds good, it usually follows some kind of common practice and there is already an explanation for it.

Theory doesn't replace your ears. You always need to use your ears. Theory is there to support your ears, not to replace them. Knowing theory just makes it much easier to figure out what's happening in a song that you like. If you know theory, it's not any more just abstract sounds. There's some explanation for those sounds and that makes it easier to internalize the sounds. Language is how we understand things and theory is kind of a language - it's a way of describing music without needing to play a note. Obviously it's not perfect and it doesn't replace sound. But if you know a lot of theory, you can kind of already hear what it sounds like before anybody even plays anything.


My point is, it's all about learning theory the correct way. Treat it as an explanation, not as rules that you need to follow.


+1.

I'd add that with theory knowledge, you get more confidence to play with accidentals, and outside playing, because you know when you're detouring, and what to return to so it all sounds good.