#1
Hi guys! So i bought a eletric guitar less than 6 months ago after playing some acoustic. My goal when i got it was to play some music that i liked but soon i started playing less and less because of school and now i want to get back to it again but my goal has changed. Whereas my goal was to play some songs that i liked, now i rather play something mine, something i created and write some songs but the problem is i barely know the notes of the freatboard. Me writing a song would be some notes put together randomly and so i want to learn music theory so i could improvise and write songs for the guitar. I do not take guitar lessons and everything i know now is from youtube and so can you guide me on how i should get started, what to learn etc...
Thanks
#3
You don't necessarily need to learn theory to write your own songs. First you need to have a musical idea and coming up with a musical idea doesn't really have to do with theory. It's something that you basically just hear in your head - you get inspired by something and start hearing sounds in your head. Songwriting is definitely not "playing random notes", even if you don't know theory. There are plenty of good musicians who don't know theory and have written good songs.

I'm not telling you not to learn theory. I'm just saying that learning to write songs is a separate skill. Theory is there to support your ears and help you "make sense" of the music that you play/hear. But if you want to learn to write songs, you should listen to and play some music first.

Learn other people's songs. This way you will get ideas and "vocabulary" and some practical knowledge of music. Use your ears (learn songs preferably by ear). All of this will make it a lot easier to write songs later. Use theory to support your ears and to analyze your favorite songs.


Music is practical and it's best learned through practice. Understanding music in theory doesn't really make sense before you understand it in practice. You learn more about music by playing and listening to a lot of it than by reading theory books. You will also get more ideas for your songs that way. So what I would suggest is learning some actual music. Again, I'm not saying you shouldn't learn theory. Actually, it makes understanding what's happening in songs easier. But first get some kind of a practical understanding of your instrument and music in general. You get inspiration for your own songs from other people's music, and I don't think you can really write for guitar that well if you don't know the instrument well.


The main point is, you learn to write your own music by first learning other people's music. You should also develop your ears. Good ears will help if you want to write music. If you can hear sounds inside your head (i.e., you know what sounds you are after) and know how to achieve those sounds, that will improve your songwriting. So as I said, learn to play songs by ear.
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
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Jan 24, 2017,
#5
skulled13

I would say both. The more you use your ears, the better you will get at figuring out stuff by ear. But Youtube lessons can provide some other useful information. Maybe learn some songs purely by ear and some other songs from tabs/Youtube lessons. And of course if you are stuck and just can't figure out how to play something by ear, that's also when it makes sense to look at tabs and lessons.
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
#7
Quote by skulled13
MaggaraMarine Thanks, should i learn to play songs by ear alone or maybe with youtube lessons ?
Any way you can. Don't be afraid of internet tab and chord sites too. They're sometimes wrong, but the more different references you use (your ear being the most important!) the more you can narrow down what's right.

It's learning a language, essentially. Songs follow a kind of grammar, they use vocabulary. Music theory will describe all that grammar and vocabulary, in painstaking detail, but - as with learning another language - phrase books and listening to natives is the best way. The difference with music is it doesn't mean stuff, like words do. It's nothing but sound, which is why listening is so important - and why copying what you hear (as best as you can) it the best way to learn.

The classic example is the Beatles - arguably the greatest songwriters of the 20th century. The read no theory at all (they had a few guitar lessons, but nothing theoretical). What they did - in the five years before they made it - was learn to play 100s of songs by other people. Partly because they loved the songs so much, but also because they needed to fill hours of live performance every night. And they learned songs in many different genres - not just the rock'n'roll of the day, but old jazz tunes, folk tunes, blues, country, show tunes. That's what put them ahead of all their contemporaries: the breadth of their influences.

Much the same applies to other prolific songwriters, such as Bob Dylan, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, you name them. They're magpies - they steal stuff from all over. "Originality" comes from stealing more stuff than anyone else, so that your mix of influences is unique. The more different people you steal from, the smaller any individual element on your mix. (Obviously if you only copy one or two artists, you will sound like them. Copy 100 people, no one will be able to tell. Or maybe they will, but they won't care, because the mix is so original.)

Naturally, you need your own inner driving force too. You have to want to write. You have to feel there is something you want to say (even if you don't quite know what it is). So, as well as all that theft, you experiment all the time too. Forget rules, and just try any chord, after any chord. It might just work. Your ears are always the failsafe judge - they're never wrong (because you've heard "correct" music all your life). But the better educated your ears are, the finer the judgments they can make. The less music you've learned to play, the more unsure you can be choosing between a bunch of chords that all seem to sound equally OK. IOW, listening to lots of music gives you the essential background ear training (you know a wrong note when you hear one), but learning to play music is how you refine it, sharpen it up.

BTW, for learning songs, you have something the Beatles, et al, didn't have. If they couldn't find songbooks (which cost money anyhow), they had to wear out vinyl discs by repeatedly dropping the stylus on and taking it off. Or they used tape recorders (more expensive hardware).
Now we have slowdowners! Some are actually free, and the rest are cheap. I recommend Transcribe: https://www.seventhstring.com/
Remember when you learn other people's songs, don't treat it like an exercise, don't do it because you think you should (because someone on the internet told you to ). Just steal what you like. It might just be a few seconds of a song that grabs you; that's all you need. No need to learn the whole damn song if the rest is boring.
Last edited by jongtr at Jan 27, 2017,
#9
agree with Jongtr you learn a lot of songs/riffs/melodies from artists which have unique styles and when you're writting and thinking about what comes next you will pull from those songs which influence you most.
I don't think learning theory will help much in writing and composing at least not from a this is a C and this is a C minor scale prespective
if you learn beethoven's moonlight sonata you will learn a lot of chord shapes.
and composition is more about rhytmn anyway
creativity and a need for expression are very important as well. I bet a lot of people know many songs but can't write a good one they have nothing to express
you need to go through some shit to write good music
Last edited by João1993 at Jan 28, 2017,
#11
Quote by João1993
agree with Jongtr you learn a lot of songs/riffs/melodies from artists which have unique styles and when you're writting and thinking about what comes next you will pull from those songs which influence you most.
I don't think learning theory will help much in writing and composing at least not from a this is a C and this is a C minor scale prespective
if you learn beethoven's moonlight sonata you will learn a lot of chord shapes.
and composition is more about rhytmn anyway
creativity and a need for expression are very important as well. I bet a lot of people know many songs but can't write a good one they have nothing to express
you need to go through some shit to write good music


I don't agree, that composition is more about rhytm, it's all - rhytm, harmony and melody. And theory is just a common experience gathered by musicians during ages about what's sounds "right". So I don't think is useless to learn some theory as well. Of yourse you can analyze Betthoven's sonata by yourself and then come out with your theory
#12
It's worth pointing out that learning and imitating other music is the bare minimum need to attain any musical skill. Music theory is not an alternative to learning real music, it's a way of processing and learning from that music.
#14
Thrift stores can be great. I've picked up lots of lesson books from there for dirt cheap (usually $2-$3 each). Most will be missing the CD/tape they're supposed to come with, but you can usually find them online with a little searching.
#15
Quote by skulled13
Hi guys! So i bought a eletric guitar less than 6 months ago after playing some acoustic. My goal when i got it was to play some music that i liked but soon i started playing less and less because of school and now i want to get back to it again but my goal has changed. Whereas my goal was to play some songs that i liked, now i rather play something mine, something i created and write some songs but the problem is i barely know the notes of the freatboard. Me writing a song would be some notes put together randomly and so i want to learn music theory so i could improvise and write songs for the guitar. I do not take guitar lessons and everything i know now is from youtube and so can you guide me on how i should get started, what to learn etc...
Thanks


Theory will not help you play guitar. You just have to practice. If you are not playing, reading about it will not help.