#1
Hi, I've been playing guitar for about 4 years now and although my technique isn't bad, I don't have a lot of musical knowledge or theory to be able to play or even create something. I can just about play your basic pentatonic scales ?. Before you say anything. I did have a teacher for a few months but due to my work schedule it become pretty difficult to get to lessons.

So my question is how should I go about filling in the gaps in my knowledge and playing without a teacher? Also where should I begin in doing this?

Thanks
#2
I don't think that you necessarily need music theory in order to create and play music, but it sure as hell helps a lot. If you have trouble coming up with original music, it's more often a problem with inspiration and your ears, rather than a lack of theoretical knowledge. Theory is there to help you understand what you're playing and writing, but on it's own it doesn't instantly make you a great guitarist.

That being said, I wholeheartedly recommend you learn basic theory since it's beyond useful to any musician. I'd personally start with learning the names of each note in the chromatic scale and finding them on the fretboard, learning some names for the chords you're using and learning about intervals. An interval is the distance between two notes, and intervals are used as the building blocks of practically everything in western music theory. Intervals are used in scale and chord building, so if you wrap your head around them you can go a long way. I can write about this in more detail if you wish, but I recommend you use a more dedicated resource for theory than a forum post. musictheory dot net is a popular site, and I've heard good things about it. Also, the youtuber Ben Levin has a great series called "music theory from the ground up" that you could check out.

But if you're struggling with writing music, I'd recommend that you learn some music by ear. Ear training is crucial and in my opinion, easily the most important thing you can practice as a guitarist. So pick songs that inspire you, and learn them by ear. This develops your skill of recognizing good musical ideas by ear, and helps you analyze your own songs. Most importantly, it let's you take those ideas you hear in your head and translate them to your instrument effortlessly. Learning new music is also the best way to improve your technique and playing in general, and it's a lot more fun than drilling exercises.

This is all very generalized advice, but if you want to share some of your goals and aspirations in more detail, we can give tips in more detail. What kind of music do you like? What do you want to achieve? You should always set goals and work towards them to keep up motivation, what would those goals be for you, both long and short term?
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
Last edited by Kevätuhri at Oct 9, 2016,
#3
Kevätuhri Thank you for your advice my main goal is really to get comfortable level of playing where i can play with other players, use the fretboard well and to be able to write and solo. i know thats quite a broad spectrum haha. I'm a big fan of mark tremonti's playing, especially his riffs and technique but i also like clapton and knopfler due to their style
#4
Quote by alexriffs
Kevätuhri Thank you for your advice my main goal is really to get comfortable level of playing where i can play with other players, use the fretboard well and to be able to write and solo. i know thats quite a broad spectrum haha. I'm a big fan of mark tremonti's playing, especially his riffs and technique but i also like clapton and knopfler due to their style
I suggest focussing on some tunes or songs you like, and digging deep into them. Learn the chord progression, learn to play any melody (including vocal) and riffs; study how they link with the chords,and how the chord changes work. Look for different ways of playing the same chords (different shapes and positions on the fretboard).
The more songs you learn, the more you'll spot the common changes and effects that "music theory" is built from. More importantly, you'll be building up a better knowledge of the fretboard, improving your ears, and making more confident connections between ear and fingers. This will naturally improve your creativity, because you will be expanding your vocabulary of sounds as well as your aural judgment.
Theory is just about naming all that stuff - not really explaining it (although it does help lay out the patterns and connections).
Last edited by jongtr at Oct 10, 2016,
#5
Theory is not "thou shalt do this" ... it is just a collection of observations of musical concepts that have worked well (originally, observations made about key composers).

A few things that can help you.

1/ Try to develop the ability to sing melodies from the major scale, in whatever key suits you ... initially just try to sing the 1, 2 and 3 of the scale, then add the 5. E.g. in C major, try to sing C, D, E and then G ... the important thing is to get a feel for the distance (intervals) from the 1 (key centre, tonal centre) to the other pitches. Listen out for these in tunes. Eventually, you'll start recognising these by ear, which gives you "aural land marks",

2/ Find out about chord tones, and writing melodies with these.

3/ Listen to songs, and see if you can spot similar phrases, with variations ... these are what provides a great deal of structure to tunes. NOtice where the phrase starts and stops in the bar.
https://soundcloud.com/jerry-kramskoy-1
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Oct 10, 2016,