#1
Ok, here's the deal. I've been playing guitar off and on for around 8 years. I can safely rip through the solos of my favorite songs from my favorite bands. My speed has undergone a massive improvement over the past year and I know that it will continue to do so as long as I put a majority of my free time on my axe. I pick sixteenth notes rather clearly up to around 144 bpm.

My fear is this. I don't want to sound like anyone else. I want to have my own sound and expand my technique and skills to that effect. I find that now when I do any type of improvisational work I tend to sound like the bands that I have been shredding with. It's getting aggravating, because I have found that it's become too much of a safe haven that really doesn't belong to me.

I know that in order for me to improve as I wish I need to expand my knowledge of the nuts and bolts of music in general. As far as learning Music Theory on my own I have to terms with the fact that in that area I have advanced ADD. This question is for anyone who has had any type of collegiate courses Music Theory. How did it help your guitar playing, and what were some noteable changes on how you approached music thereafter? Thank you in advance, and please try to keep vague answers and off topic posts in the other threads.

BE
#2
Well I've been taking guitar lessons for a few years now and decided to focus on my theory studies moreso and same in my music class at school.

Obviously a better knowledge of the theory of the guitar will allow you to know just what sounds good and what will sound out of place, it can help you develop your own styles of soloing based on modes and stuff, and how to recover if you play an out of place note, etc.
Also, you'll know where to apply what scales and modes, what chords wound good with what chords, what scales/modes sound good with what chords, etc etc etc

I've found it a very effective use of my time and it often can be a pretty refreshing way to keep my studies going. There's always a new aspect I could be undertaking and it's somehow less boring then just solo-ing the pentatonic to BB King records 8 hours a day

#3
Theory caused my musical taste to become more adolescent for a little bit, I was like "wtf, this band just uses this boring old chord progression." I was paying way too much attention to the technical details that don't really matter, like scales and chords, instead of the details that DO matter. I kept thinking that because this band was playing only major and minor chords with no extensions or whatever, it wasn't worth listening to. I guess a lot of (younger, most likely) musicians go through this "I am Special" phase where they like to talk about how they won't listen to certain bands because they're not as technically out there as other bands.

Then, I think my taste began to grow up. I found that there is something to appreciate and something to learn from every branch of music, and even if I don't necessarily like thrash metal, it would be to my benefit to understand it.

My advice would be, before wasting a ton of money on theory lessons, to do this: Get a theory book (such as The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory), see if you like it after getting your feet a little wet, and if you do, go ahead and study advanced theory.
#4
a lot like Pratt, at first theory made me more of an elitist, and than once you finish doing your elitist thing, it just helps you say **** everything I dont like, lets hear it all. And take it all in.


In terms of playing guitar it helped me, but not in terms of improvization. Bass is the only instrument I can really just play, you know? The one that feels right... everything else was always overthinking to do it right, and theory helped the overthought.
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BA in Music theory
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#5
theory has helped me so much in so many ways. before i started reading up on things everything i wrote sounded similar to something else id written, or another song. last night i sat down with a chord progression ive been playing recently (4 nice extended chords) and wrote a melody for it. now when i started guitar i would have just played random stuff over it. in my early theory days i would have just stuck to one scale over the whole thing. last night, i didnt even think about much and came up with a great little melody. i did have to go back and change a D to a D#, but other than that it was just using some theory i had in the back of my head to write something that sounded good and moved with the chords.

and the thing is, im really not all that brilliant with theory. ive learned most of what i know from UG and a bit from some books. thats really the place to start, as pratt suggested. get your feet wet and get some knowledge under your belt, then go learn the cool stuff in a class. most stuff i know is guitar related, so when i take this theory intro class in the fall, im gonna get so much new information that i can apply that i wouldnt have even dreamed of. and the best part will be that it wont be guitar geared like so much on here is. so really, you have nothing to lose by taking a class, unless you dont understand it. which is why i would suggest doing a bit of work on your own first.