#1
I've started a band, and none of the guys in the band know ANY theory besides me.
I'm trying to explain to them that I need to know what chord they're playing so I can make a bass line formed around the root note and they don't know what I mean, but one of them asked something alone the lines of -
"Is there still a chord you have to follow when we're playing single notes" and "What key do we play in?"

I'm in quite a pickle here
Any help would be much appreciated
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#2
well. i dont know a damn thing about theory, but id sayt to give the guys in your band a chance to study theory for a while. give them some time to absorb the material and work on it later with them. if theyre too impacient to be willing to learn theory than dump them. nuthings worse than wanting something so bad that you'd do anything to acheive it, but the people your working with are too stupid and ignorant in becomeing a 'good' musician that its preventing you from ever making it big time, even if you are an outstanding musician
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#4
If they won't tell you the chord, make them play each opne and look at their fingers to see what they are playing. I have to do that sometimes as a last resort.
#5
just ask them wat fret they're playing then, and like the ohter guy said they're probably doing power chords so the roots and fifths, the most they can be doing is major and minor chords but you should be able to figure those out from the sound.

and when it comes to keys, just look at which chords they are playing.

for example, if they're playing a D, Bb, and C, that would be key of Dm. or if they're playing C, D, and E, that would be key of Em, so on.
#6
actually, it would not be Dm...


seriously, D? in Dm? wtf? probably just a typo.


but yeah if you know the chords in a key it shouldnt be hard even if it is just power chords.
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#7
oh sorry, i shoulda clarified.

i meant D5, Bb5, C5, as in the powerchords. then u can say its key of Dm.

not really a typo just kinda badly worded.
#8
If they're playing in only powerchords then simply find out where they are playing the chords, and play those roots. Then you cna use the thirds to imply the chord structure so it doesn't sound so bland. Powerchords are so boring.....they just have no ***tion in them. I'd much rather be playing root-third diads any day.
#9
I think Rule Breaker pretty much nailed it. Essentially, you are trying to communicate with these people and are having difficulty. Either they need to learn to communicate with you (ie . learn *some* theory... god, I can't imagine working with people that don't even know what notes they're playing, but anyways....) or you have to learn to communicate with them. (dumb everything down, and suck it up that you'll have to learn how to communicate in the most basic of terms.) If you can't communicate with them, then you can't play with them.

Chris
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#11
Quote by Tim-kun
You can always join another band? :3


Seconded, if they can't tell you jack **** about chords or anything theory related, and aren't willing to learn the stuff, then its not worth your time musically to waste it with them.
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#12
Quote by Killibinizik
Seconded, if they can't tell you jack **** about chords or anything theory related, and aren't willing to learn the stuff, then its not worth your time musically to waste it with them.


thirded.
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#14
well ya know.. rock and metal was pretty much based on the power chord, so give it some credit.

but then again think of it this way, they're just playing powerchords, therefore you hav a near infinite amount of to room exercise your creative musical theoretical side. thats why you can write a guitar solo in almost any key for an old school rock song, theres no restrictions on what notes you can play.

the only hard part is figuring what the roots are, just peak over at where they're playing or just ear it.
#15
Quote by SocKo?
well ya know.. rock and metal was pretty much based on the power chord, so give it some credit.

but then again think of it this way, they're just playing powerchords, therefore you hav a near infinite amount of to room exercise your creative musical theoretical side. thats why you can write a guitar solo in almost any key for an old school rock song, theres no restrictions on what notes you can play.

the only hard part is figuring what the roots are, just peak over at where they're playing or just ear it.

First off, why are we assuming the members in his band are just playing power chords??? I think the threadstarter's original question of "I'm trying to explain to them that I need to know what chord they're playing so I can make a bass line formed around the root note and they don't know what I mean" could have been easily solved if his bandmates were just playing powerchords.

Second of all, you do NOT have infinite room to "excerise your creative musical theoretical side". Power chords take up a lot of space in the music spectrum, and if you play to much, you will fall out of the pocket. Bass is about being in the pocket, not playing as many notes as possible.

Third, finding the root notes should be the easy part. It should take about half a second to glance over at the guitarist's fretboard, or to ask him what fret on which string he is playing. I would wing it by ear, because the same chord progressions or patterns will occur over time if they don't know much theory.

Fourth of all, 99% of rock is not based on power chords. Some metal, maybe.

Threadstarter: My suggestion would be to be patient, or if it gets really frustrating, start looking for new guys to play with. Theory may be the backbone of the music, but many bands have risen to stardom without them. Mike Dirnt of Green Day is the only one in that band who knows his stuff, and look at them now. (Before you flame me, I don't like the new Green Day). If worst comes to worst, just make the best out of the situation and even try writing a few guitar lines yourself! Just have fun with it.


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#16
Are you telling me that bands get by without knowing theory?! How do they get those music books out with all their songs inside them in notation? This is insanity
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#17
Quote by Face The Slayer
Are you telling me that bands get by without knowing theory?! How do they get those music books out with all their songs inside them in notation? This is insanity


Writing music is entirely different than knowing theory.
Probably the biggest band ever, the Beatles, couldn't read or write music. If they wanted an orchestral piece in one of their songs, they would have to hum it out, and then get somebody to write it down for the string musicians.

And obviously they don't write the music books themselves..d'oh. Somebody else transcribes them.
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#18
I think Face The Slayer was kidding.... in a sarcastic kind of way....

hehehe

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

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#19
Quote by Incubus_SCIENCE
First off, why are we assuming the members in his band are just playing power chords??? I think the threadstarter's original question of "I'm trying to explain to them that I need to know what chord they're playing so I can make a bass line formed around the root note and they don't know what I mean" could have been easily solved if his bandmates were just playing powerchords.

Second of all, you do NOT have infinite room to "excerise your creative musical theoretical side". Power chords take up a lot of space in the music spectrum, and if you play to much, you will fall out of the pocket. Bass is about being in the pocket, not playing as many notes as possible.

Third, finding the root notes should be the easy part. It should take about half a second to glance over at the guitarist's fretboard, or to ask him what fret on which string he is playing. I would wing it by ear, because the same chord progressions or patterns will occur over time if they don't know much theory.

Fourth of all, 99% of rock is not based on power chords. Some metal, maybe.

Threadstarter: My suggestion would be to be patient, or if it gets really frustrating, start looking for new guys to play with. Theory may be the backbone of the music, but many bands have risen to stardom without them. Mike Dirnt of Green Day is the only one in that band who knows his stuff, and look at them now. (Before you flame me, I don't like the new Green Day). If worst comes to worst, just make the best out of the situation and even try writing a few guitar lines yourself! Just have fun with it.

ow i got owned, i was just going with the flow of the thread. but to be fair, u did take alot of what i said out of context.
#20
Quote by Incubus_SCIENCE
Theory may be the backbone of the music, but many bands have risen to stardom without them. Mike Dirnt of Green Day is the only one in that band who knows his stuff, and look at them now.


this is the exact **** that is destroying popular culture. you can have a great jazz band or rock band like rush that are gifted musicians and use music theory like its supposed to be, like a language. communication through instruments, etc.

but then you have these crappy, half-assed bands like the new green day (NEW, not old) or fallout boy who throw out some power chords, sappy lyrics, and rocket to success based on the fact that they wear tight pants and make-up.

a lot of musicians who play today are the latter, more concerned with the fame, so they say, "hey, these guys are famous without any of the work that other bands that are less famous are putting in."

so my suggestion to you is, find people who play music because they enjoy music. these people are most likely the ones who will know the theory, because they care enough about it, like you.

i could be wrong, maybe your friends do love music and just cant express it yet. you'll have to decide if you want to stick with them or not.
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#21
Quote by crazypeanutman
this is the exact **** that is destroying popular culture. you can have a great jazz band or rock band like rush that are gifted musicians and use music theory like its supposed to be, like a language. communication through instruments, etc.

I wasn't saying that taking theory out of modern music was a good thing, I was only saying that you can do it and still be successful.


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#22
Quote by crazypeanutman
you can have a great jazz band or rock band like rush that are gifted musicians and use music theory like its supposed to be, like a language. communication through instruments, etc.


...agreed entirely.....

Quote by crazypeanutman

but then you have these crappy, half-assed bands like the new green day (NEW, not old) or fallout boy who throw out some power chords, sappy lyrics, and rocket to success based on the fact that they wear tight pants and make-up.


.... except new or old Green Day, bands like that make it big because they write catchy songs that people like. This explains the Bob Dylans, Beatles, Elvis, Tom Pettys, Tragically Hips, Barenaked Ladies, Nirvanas, etc. of the world. I believe there IS a talent in that.

It is just a different talent than say, Dream Theatre (who are *such* good musicians that they literally scare me) who can't write any more than one good song if their lives depended upon it. Errr.... or Rush in recent years. For that matter... the Red Hot Chili Peppers in the last ten years or so.

*ducks and runs for cover*

hehehe

Chris
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Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#23
Quote by That_Pink_Queen
Writing music is entirely different than knowing theory.
Probably the biggest band ever, the Beatles, couldn't read or write music. If they wanted an orchestral piece in one of their songs, they would have to hum it out, and then get somebody to write it down for the string musicians.

And obviously they don't write the music books themselves..d'oh. Somebody else transcribes them.


if you know anything about the Beatles, you know they knew a **** load of theory. Just because Paul couldn't site read sheet music and no one wrote out string parts, doesn't mean you dont know your theory.


Something modulates to the parallel major of the relative minor. Clever, no?
A common modulation by the Beatles was chromatic patterns, doing I->V and then going up a halfstep and going I->V and followign no specific direction really until the melody resolved. They knew how to compose a great original melody with great original music.
Eleanor rigby was written with each voice on piano. Yes, I suppose George Martin did have to know that an F on piano is an F on violin. Oooh ahh. impressive. Paul McCartney must no zippo theory because George Martin did that can see the C on piano is a C on violin and so forth, but who the **** cares. The Beatles knew their theory. So did Jimmy Page. Reading sheet music makes learning theory easier... it isn't a requirement to be a theory genius.
Eleanor rigby is clearly in Dorian. E Dorian.
Paperback Writer features one of the most complex and ambitious vocal harmonies I've ever heard.
A day in the life modulates from the Major to its relative minor's parallel major. Sound familiar? its the inverse of what George Harrison did for something, is one of the most underused modulations in populaur, was one of the Beatle's favorites, and quite frankly is my favorite.
Help's intro is jam packed with the beautiful chromatic chord progression.
We can work it out uses the beauty of changing a feel, but technically remains within 4/4. Since it only changes for a few measures you can simply rewrite it as triplets, but in essence it changes from 4/4 to 6/8.


EDIT: Gah Im a dick. Everything I said just proved your point more so. Shhh. lol
I thought you ere saying knowing theory wasn't necessary, look at the Beatles.
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#24
Quote by Incubus_SCIENCE

Second of all, you do NOT have infinite room to "excerise your creative musical theoretical side". Power chords take up a lot of space in the music spectrum, and if you play to much, you will fall out of the pocket. Bass is about being in the pocket, not playing as many notes as possible.

I disagree. If his bandmates are just playing simple chords (powerchords or not), the bass must pick up some of the slack, or the song will be dull. Simple guitar parts most definitely open up the canvas for the bassist. Conversely, if the guitars are doing some insane stuff, the bass should back off a bit, so the song doesn't get too "busy".

Even if your guitarists can't tell you what chord they're playing, you should still be able to come up with a bassline. You'll have to train your ear a bit, but you should know what sounds "right".
#25
Quote by kylehnat
I disagree. If his bandmates are just playing simple chords (powerchords or not), the bass must pick up some of the slack, or the song will be dull. Simple guitar parts most definitely open up the canvas for the bassist. Conversely, if the guitars are doing some insane stuff, the bass should back off a bit, so the song doesn't get too "busy".

Even if your guitarists can't tell you what chord they're playing, you should still be able to come up with a bassline. You'll have to train your ear a bit, but you should know what sounds "right".


you can basically pick a key and go, pretty much as long as you stay away from a locrian mode, your set.
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#26
^ thats so not true its not even funny. I'm amazed about the lack of music theory knowledge around here, and its quite disappointing.


Although you're correct when you say Locrian sucks.
Quote by casualty01
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#27
Quote by UtBDan
Although you're correct when you say Locrian sucks.

Unless you are playing death metal (its too bad i dont like death metal)

And to Kylehnat, just assuming that because they are playing power chords that there is a large gap in the sound of the band is a terrible assumption to make. Listen to any song of of Green Day's American Idiot (another terrible example, I know.) All powerchords, but wait! I can't even hear the bass! And yet, there is such a big, in your face sound where if the bass was doing any more, the song would be ruined.

I know it all depends on the song, but in classic examples, songs where the guitars are playing powerchords call for simpler bass lines, just because they fit right there in the pocket so much better. Going crazy and making crazy bass fills and runs, is just going to overdo the overall sound of the band, and make the whole track sound muddy.

Power chords may be simple, but they take up a hell of a lot of space sonically. Songs with power chords are fairly boring, but adding a huge bass solo isn't going to make things any better. The lyrics are what truely make power chord songs, and that is how the records get sold.

In response to Crazypeanutman, just wow. Musical modes and scales need to MATCH UP WITH THE SONG'S KEY AND THE CHORDS IN WHICH ARE BEING PLAYED. You can't just randomly chose a mode and expect it to go well with a song. If this has been how you are basing your playing, then you are sadly mistaken.


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#28
Quote by Incubus_SCIENCE

In response to Crazypeanutman, just wow. Musical modes and scales need to MATCH UP WITH THE SONG'S KEY AND THE CHORDS IN WHICH ARE BEING PLAYED. You can't just randomly chose a mode and expect it to go well with a song. If this has been how you are basing your playing, then you are sadly mistaken.


Quote by UtBDan
^ thats so not true its not even funny. I'm amazed about the lack of music theory knowledge around here, and its quite disappointing.


what the hell, the point if the power chord is that it fits with almost all scales and modes, minors, majors, whatever. if your going to stay with the basic church modes, ionian, dorian, etc. than you can use almost any key. if his band is going to play a standard progression, like A G F E, all power chords, you can use the major keys of A, B, or C. thats even if you want to stay in one key. he could change key for every damn chord if he wanted to, the power chord leaves it open like that.
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#29
the point of the powerchord is to have something there when you can't figure out the tonality.

You couldn't use the major key of B with those powerchords (F would never appear in the key of B. Neither would A. Neither would C, which is needed for the F powerchord. Neither would D, which is needed for the G powerchord.)
You also couldn't use the major key of A. (G doesn't appear in the major key of A. Neither does F. F# and G#.)


The fact is you can't just use any one. It's 1/3rd more likely to fit in a key since one note of the chord is gone, sure.
But you can't just use anyone due to the notes in a key, and even if they all shared the notes of a key, you have to figure in that it would rarely work in terms of tension and tonal centers in multiple keys.


And your example proved my point.
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#30
^Especially when vocals are added. The vocalist will set the mood of the song. He or she probably won't be singing roots and fifths (unless you are in a techno band). In my band, sometimes I get lost figuring out a bassline. I listen to what the vocals are doing, and learn the vocals on my bass (the pitches, not the lyrics), and suddenly many more doors are opened up for me. I can easily pick up what key and mood the vocalist wants, and I am able to write something that will fit in the pocket just perfectly.


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#31
Quote by UtBDan
^ thats so not true its not even funny. I'm amazed about the lack of music theory knowledge around here, and its quite disappointing.


that was a real dick thing to say. your insulting a forum of 90% beginners/intermediates for not being well versed in a complicated subject like music theory? if your going to insult me for not knowing my theory, at least have the courtesy to correct me like the second time you posted. i dont have college music theory classes, so sorry dan, i know this is obviously my fault, i wasnt born early enough.

and incubus, that wasnt helping his point, that just seemed like you bragging a bit the posts were about power chords and their corresponding keys, never about vocals.

i cant change key midsong to match a vocalist's key changes because i dont have that much experience. im still learning, and so are you dan, so back off a bit buddy.
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#32
Quote by crazypeanutman
that was a real dick thing to say. your insulting a forum of 90% beginners/intermediates for not being well versed in a complicated subject like music theory? if your going to insult me for not knowing my theory, at least have the courtesy to correct me like the second time you posted. i dont have college music theory classes, so sorry dan, i know this is obviously my fault, i wasnt born early enough.

and incubus, that wasnt helping his point, that just seemed like you bragging a bit the posts were about power chords and their corresponding keys, never about vocals.

i cant change key midsong to match a vocalist's key changes because i dont have that much experience. im still learning, and so are you dan, so back off a bit buddy.



its not that you don't know your stuff, its that you acted like you did.


"you can basically pick a key and go, pretty much as long as you stay away from a locrian mode, your set."


I don't insult people for not knowing theory. heck, it IS optional and not a requirement for being a good musician; and it does take a while to grasp the very basics.


I insult people for advising people improperly with theory. Im sorry you took such offense to it.
Quote by casualty01
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#33
Quote by UtBDan
its not that you don't know your stuff, its that you acted like you did.


"you can basically pick a key and go, pretty much as long as you stay away from a locrian mode, your set."


I don't insult people for not knowing theory. heck, it IS optional and not a requirement for being a good musician; and it does take a while to grasp the very basics.


I insult people for advising people improperly with theory. Im sorry you took such offense to it.


'sall good. but hey, at least i knew it worked with C major
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#34
Quote by crazypeanutman

and incubus, that wasnt helping his point, that just seemed like you bragging a bit the posts were about power chords and their corresponding keys, never about vocals.

I wasn't trying to brag the least bit. I was just trying to get this thread back on topic, which neither you or dan are trying to do. I was giving the threadstarter an idea to follow if he is faced with only power chords (which I still don't understand why we are assuming).


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