#1
Hi everyone so I have been playing guitar for the last 6 years or so but hardly know any theory. It's what my teacher calls parrot fashioned, I play stuff but don't know what I am playing. He told me to learn every note on every string up to the 12 fret. I haven't done lessons in a while though. Like I see on youtube they say something like we start on a c major then end of a d major. I don't get what that means I get if they say they start on a c note and end on a d note. I know major and minor chords and 7th. I believe  when you do a barre chord and take off the middle finger it becomes minor. Anyways what should I do so I know more of what I am doing? Thanks.
#2
The simplest thing you can do is learn about intervals, at least the most common ones.  Chords, scales, melodies are all made from these, and the most common ones take around 5-10 minutes to learn, which you can then see/hear in any major or minor triad, or seventh, minor seventh, major seventh chords.

E.g:  apart from on the G.B pair of strings, the major 3rd interval looks like this on any other pair of adacent strings in standard tuning:

e:  2
b:  3

Slide this simple diagonal shape anywhere along the string pair, and it will always make the sound of a major 3rd, the most important sound in a major chord.

Look at this chord (D major) ... spot the major 3rd?

e: 2
b: 3
g: 2


Or ... here's G major chord ... spot the major 3rd?

e: 3
b: 0
g: 0
d: 0
a: 2
e: 3

The major 3rd on string pair G,B is a simple vertical line (i.e. both pitches line up at the same fret), because of the guitar tuning.  Look back at the G chord above.  Spot the major 3rd on the G,B strings?


Minor 3rd:  just adhust the major 3rd shape, moving the upper pitch back one fret (one semitone).  So, on string pair G,B we get a diagonal, and all the other string pairs we a longer sloping diagonal covering 2 frets,


Here's A major (on left) and A minor (on right):  Look at the A major.  Spot the major 3rd shape, and the minor 3rd shape above it?  Look at the A minor chord:  Spot the minor 3rd shape, with the major 3rd above it?

e: 5   5
b: 5   5
g: 6   5
d: 7   7
a: x
e: x

Not rocket science.

If you use your ears and eyes, and link this with physical finger shapes needed to make these sounds, you can now have a reasonable chance of looking at common chord shapes, and finding the most important sounding interval.


As for scales, same idea ... a scale is a set of intervals, measured from the start choice for your scale.  Follow this formula (which means choosing pitches at various distances from the scakle start) and you get the scale.  Change the start note, you get the same scale type (since the formula is the same, applied FROM the start note), but the pitches involved change.  So the sound flavour stays the same, just higher or lower.

e.g. minor blues scale:  (0, 3, 5, 6, 7, 10, 12)  ... here I'm using semitones, rather than interval names  (an interval name is the musicians equivalent to some number of semitones).  On one string, the above shows how to build the blue scale.  Align 0 with your chosen start, then from there go up 3 frets.  The next scale member is 5 frets above the start choice.  Etc.

Take a look at https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/lessons/for_beginners/drastically_reduce_learning_time_with_intervals_part_2.html and its preceding article.
Last edited by jerrykramskoy at Jul 8, 2017,
#3
Is your teacher using that phrase "parrot fashioned" so as to impune your having learned to play by ear?
Does he also call playing an instrument relying on written music in standard notation "parrot fashioned"?
Does he include those who studied and rigorously follow theory while performing "parrot fashioned", too?
 
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
#4
Music theory is not something you learn by just reading books. You need to listen to music and analyze it too. But sure, getting a book would make sense. You just need remember to apply everything that you learn to actual music, because only that way it will make sense.

I'm pretty sure most beginner theory books would be just fine. The problem with a lot of them, though, is that you need to know how to read sheet music to understand what they are talking about. I do think knowing how to read sheet music, at least at a basic level, is a useful skill, but if you can't do it yet and just want to learn some theory, it would make sense to find a book that is more guitar oriented and doesn't completely rely on sheet music (I'm not familiar with books like this so maybe somebody else can recommend something).

You may also want to check out some Youtube lessons. I did a fast search and there doesn't seem to be many good guitar oriented theory lessons for beginners. A lot of them seem to start talking about too advanced and confusing stuff too quickly. 12tone is a pretty good theory oriented channel and they have a video series called "Building Blocks" that talks about the very basics of music theory, so you may want to check that out. It's not guitar oriented so it uses some sheet music, but I'm pretty sure you'll get by without being great at reading music. 12tone also has a lot of videos about analyzing popular songs, so you may want to check those out too (they mostly focus on harmonic analysis) - that's a good way of getting a more practical understanding of the theoretic concepts behind songs.
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 Jul 9, 2017,
#5
PlusPaul I believe he uses that phase say for example you are playing a song but you don't know what notes you are playing or if he were to ask you do a g major or something in that song and you couldn't do it, its parrot fashioned.
#6
MaggaraMarine I wouldn't want to learn  sheet music tbh. I actually did it for I think a year on lessons learned it then forgot cause never used it. So wasted alot of money. I usually stick to tabs cause I am too lazy to learn off my ear. Or use a youtube tutorial.
#7
Quote by Dialupp
MaggaraMarine I wouldn't want to learn  sheet music tbh. I actually did it for I think a year on lessons learned it then forgot cause never used it. So wasted alot of money. I usually stick to tabs cause I am too lazy to learn off my ear. Or use a youtube tutorial.

I would still suggest checking out a couple of videos by 12tone. Having a basic understanding of sheet music isn't going to hurt you. There is a pretty big difference between understanding the basics of sheet music and knowing how to read it by sight.

https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMvVESrbjBWplAcg3pG0TesncGT7qvO06
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
#8
Quote by Dialupp
PlusPaul I believe he uses that phase say for example you are playing a song but you don't know what notes you are playing or if he were to ask you do a g major or something in that song and you couldn't do it, its parrot fashioned.

Would he think a singer is parrot fashioned if they don't know what notes they are singing?
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
#9
Quote by PlusPaul
Would he think a singer is parrot fashioned if they don't know what notes they are singing?

TBH, I kind of agree with the teacher. If you are just learning songs by trial and error without having any idea of what's happening in them, that's really not that beneficial.

What makes playing the guitar and singing different is that you can play the guitar just by moving your fingers around without thinking about the actual sounds.
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
#10
Quote by MaggaraMarine
TBH, I kind of agree with the teacher. If you are just learning songs by trial and error without having any idea of what's happening in them, that's really not that beneficial.

What makes playing the guitar and singing different is that you can play the guitar just by moving your fingers around without thinking about the actual sounds.

I disagree on both points.

Learning songs by trial and error (by listening and playing... by ear) is the single most beneficial thing a guitarist will ever do. Music is meant to be listened to not just when performed, but also when rehearsed, practiced, learned, composed, or explored. The role of one's ears dominates all other aspects of music. So the process of learning a song by trial and error is an intensive use of the ears, and success certainly does reveal what's going on in the song, the most musically important thing of all - how it goes.

"...but again, don't get ahead of yourself with "intelligent understanding"...that STOPS all training....knowing it by the "mind" is not only wrong but also dangerous stuff....stops everyone from really learning...DO NOT ANALYZE..."
Carol Kaye

If one is playing the guitar without listening to the actual sounds, well... that is not what I would call playing, not on the guitar, not on the piano, not on the drum kit. If one is not hearing the actual sounds, that's just making noises (and a lot of people are happy doing that), but that is not music. Listening and knowing what's happening has nothing to do with knowing the names of notes or any other things.

I think the insight of Carol Kaye is that giving everything a specific name defeats the purpose of music being a language on its own.
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
Last edited by PlusPaul at Jul 10, 2017,
#11
Dialupp  
Dialupp
Hi, I found these 3 music theory book on google a while back and they are helpful and easy to digest. You could try reading them   

Basic 
www.beverlyteacher.com/Music%20Theory%20-%20Basic%20Level.pdf   

Intermediate 
www.beverlyteacher.com/Music%20Theory%20-%20Intermediate.pdf 

Advance  
www.beverlyteacher.com/Music%20Theory%20-%20Advanced.pdf  
#12
I think you need music theory rather than guitar theory, just put music theory into Youtube and watch some videos like this one 

It's a good idea to understand the circle of 5ths, for example.
I don't think its essential to learn to read music, but a good idea if you want to write music.
#13
Quote by PlusPaul
I disagree on both points.

Learning songs by trial and error (by listening and playing... by ear) is the single most beneficial thing a guitarist will ever do. Music is meant to be listened to not just when performed, but also when rehearsed, practiced, learned, composed, or explored. The role of one's ears dominates all other aspects of music. So the process of learning a song by trial and error is an intensive use of the ears, and success certainly does reveal what's going on in the song, the most musically important thing of all - how it goes.

"...but again, don't get ahead of yourself with "intelligent understanding"...that STOPS all training....knowing it by the "mind" is not only wrong but also dangerous stuff....stops everyone from really learning...DO NOT ANALYZE..."
Carol Kaye

If one is playing the guitar without listening to the actual sounds, well... that is not what I would call playing, not on the guitar, not on the piano, not on the drum kit. If one is not hearing the actual sounds, that's just making noises (and a lot of people are happy doing that), but that is not music. Listening and knowing what's happening has nothing to do with knowing the names of notes or any other things.

I think the insight of Carol Kaye is that giving everything a specific name defeats the purpose of music being a language on its own.

OK, I think you may have misunderstood. I'm not saying learning by trial and error is necessarily bad. But it depends on how you do it. There are different ways you can do it, and I'm not saying you need to necessarily know the names of the notes that you are playing. But if you pay no attention to how the melody/riff is constructed and how the notes relate to each other (and you basically just play notes after notes), I don't think that has any benefits over learning the song from tab.

Also, there are plenty of guitarists who just move their fingers on the fretboard without paying much attention to the sound. Sure, those are not good guitarists. But my point was, it's possible to play guitar that way. But it's not possible to sing that way. OK, technically speaking it is - there are those tone deaf people who try to sing and they just don't understand how to control the pitch of their voice (or they don't care). But singing naturally makes you rely on your ears. Guitarists many times need to be taught to use their ears because otherwise they will just focus on what shapes they are playing. And that is understandable, because to know how to play the guitar by ear, you need to know exactly what fret is what sound. Singing is much more natural.

But I don't know about the exact wording of the teacher, and I don't know exactly what he meant. I interpreted it this way, but maybe you are right and what the teacher said makes no sense. I don't know.


BTW, I totally disagree with that Carol Kaye quote. The combination of good ear and theory knowledge is more powerful than good ear on its own. Knowing the names to sounds makes learning the sounds much easier. Sure, it depends on the way you treat theory, and if you learn theory as some kind of rules that you need to follow, then it does more harm than good.

How can you even learn how music works if you don't analyze it? I mean, you don't need to know the exact names to the sounds, but you still analyze music when you learn it. You automatically notice common patterns. If you don't notice them, how can you write music that "makes sense" and isn't just random noises? Analyzing music is one of the most effective ways of learning about it.

Now, if learning theory makes you stop using your ears, then yes, I agree, that's not a good thing. And theory knowledge on its own is useless - you need to also use your ears. Theory doesn't defeat the purpose of using your ears. It just gives you a deeper understanding of what's happening in music. It's the same thing with any kind of analysis. The point of analysis is not to defeat the original purpose of the thing that you are analyzing. Analysis doesn't make it meaningless.

When you can find these common patterns in music, what's the point of not naming them? How does naming those concepts defeat the purpose of them? I mean, regardless of whether or not you name them, you still recognize them as the same concept. Naming them just makes it much easier to communicate ideas to other people. Also, when you have named it, it's easier to memorize the sound.
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