#1
I have a general question that I've been thinking a lot about lately. My theory is pretty good, I would say I have a pretty good feeling for the fretboard, and as far as technical skills go I'm pretty good, I try to avoid things like malmsteen, vai or anything virtuoso like. I've been watching a lot of instructional videos and taking lessons and jamming with whoever will trying to absorb as much as I can. So what's bugging me is that as I learn more theory I try to avoid it as much as possible, I'll take one chord or scale and morph into something completely different and play for hours without really paying attention to the specific scales or keys I'm in. I'm wondering if playing like this will hold me back from being able to play at a higher level, I would rather just jam instead of practicing stuff I hate. So basically my question is will avoiding practicing theory make me a weak musician or is it possible to become good enough to just play with other people without trying.
#2
Sigh. Excuse my disdain for the topic, it's common, and the debates are old, uninspired, and predictable.

First, ignore the people who cite X guitar player.

Is theory boring at times? Yes. It's incredibly rewarding though. What people fail to realize is that hundreds of years of music is what music theory is. Other people have done all the trial and error ,and by studying it, we can save ourselves several lifetimes worth of work.

It helps you communicate with musicians, both expressing and understanding. If you are jamming with me and I say "Alright, harmonize the head in 4ths!" I dont want to have to show you what I mean.

It's going to help you understand more advanced points of music as well. Which in turn will allow you to branch out much more easily.

If you plan on writing music, or are passionate, yes, learn it.
Don't tell me what can not be done

Don't tell me what can be done, either.



I love you all no matter what.
#3
Quote by nightwind
Sigh. Excuse my disdain for the topic, it's common, and the debates are old, uninspired, and predictable.

First, ignore the people who cite X guitar player.

Is theory boring at times? Yes. It's incredibly rewarding though. What people fail to realize is that hundreds of years of music is what music theory is. Other people have done all the trial and error ,and by studying it, we can save ourselves several lifetimes worth of work.

It helps you communicate with musicians, both expressing and understanding. If you are jamming with me and I say "Alright, harmonize the head in 4ths!" I dont want to have to show you what I mean.

It's going to help you understand more advanced points of music as well. Which in turn will allow you to branch out much more easily.

If you plan on writing music, or are passionate, yes, learn it.


ok I should clarify. I already know more than the above average musician in terms of theory. I have practiced substantially on it, but my issue isn't that. My issue is when I'm playing is it counterproductive to ignore theory, I feel like I play way better and more imaginitively if I'm not thinking "oh I've played this chord already and this note has been overused and how can I harmonize this, or when should I arpeggiate that." I just play what comes to me not thinking about how it applies to music theory, I know the theory and I think practicing it gives me a clearer picture of the fretboard when I close my eyes but it doesn't make me feel creative and imaginitive.
#4
well the thing is this, i personally, i know theory, i know scales, i know alot of the little ins and outs. but the more theory you know, the more you know how to break or bend the rules. i personally do use it, but in a productive way. say i'm gonna bust a solo out and already have an idea how i want it to sound, i can say "well i'm hearing in my head harmonized 3rds playing around 7th chords" so i have a direction to steer in and it will help with the melody immensely. the more theory you know and intervals you are used to the more it will help you put what you hear in your head down into music. don't get me wrong there is a time to just jam out and "feel" it out, but really even when you "feel" it out, do you not hear it in your head a split second before you play it? would the knowledge of what you hear not help you transcribe it into action?
#5
Quote by z4twenny
well the thing is this, i personally, i know theory, i know scales, i know alot of the little ins and outs. but the more theory you know, the more you know how to break or bend the rules. i personally do use it, but in a productive way. say i'm gonna bust a solo out and already have an idea how i want it to sound, i can say "well i'm hearing in my head harmonized 3rds playing around 7th chords" so i have a direction to steer in and it will help with the melody immensely. the more theory you know and intervals you are used to the more it will help you put what you hear in your head down into music. don't get me wrong there is a time to just jam out and "feel" it out, but really even when you "feel" it out, do you not hear it in your head a split second before you play it? would the knowledge of what you hear not help you transcribe it into action?



I guess your kind of right, that's a really really good way of looking at it. I always hear the music in my head before it comes out, well atleast the really innovative creative things I do, and that's when I have a picture of the notes I can be playing it's like paint by numbers sort of. Sometimes people will say afterwards that something I played was amazing and those are the times when I'm not really playing, it's sort of like just letting whatever I'm playing take hold and just flow. It's really cool to feel like the middleman where the only thing I really have to do is hold the guitar and the rest takes care of itself. Very helpful post my friend, it was helpful without having that hint of you thinking your better than everyone.
#7
Nah not everything need sto be in keys. A lot of things these days are atonal. Hell if you play an F13(#11) followed by, say a C#, it might not be in any key, but it might sound gorgeous. I've only started dabbling in atonla chord sequences recently usuallu I stcik fairly rigidly to keys, but atonal writing gives so much freedom
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.....from this wee exercise?
#8
Well knowledge on music theory is great to know, but it does not make anyone better than any other musician. Take Jimi Hendrix for example, he did not know anything about music theory, but he knew how to get peoples attention by playing the way he played. So, my point is knowledge is great to get an idea of how to play more professional, and it does seperates you from a few people; however, it still holds you back because there are billions of people wanting to be pro-out musicians. I think if you want to be a great musician you should try to find your own distinct sound that can gather peoples attention. I know for sure you won't be able to learn distinction in no music theory book.
#9
Quote by nightwind
Sigh. Excuse my disdain for the topic, it's common, and the debates are old, uninspired, and predictable.

First, ignore the people who cite X guitar player.

Is theory boring at times? Yes. It's incredibly rewarding though. What people fail to realize is that hundreds of years of music is what music theory is. Other people have done all the trial and error ,and by studying it, we can save ourselves several lifetimes worth of work.

It helps you communicate with musicians, both expressing and understanding. If you are jamming with me and I say "Alright, harmonize the head in 4ths!" I dont want to have to show you what I mean.

It's going to help you understand more advanced points of music as well. Which in turn will allow you to branch out much more easily.

If you plan on writing music, or are passionate, yes, learn it.


/agree

I'm in my first real music theory class, and it's already helping my playing. The stuff you learn, like where it sounds good to resolve over chord x just makes a big difference.

There's a gap between learning theory and practicing theory though, that's what you need to work on. It's really easy to learn scales and stuff on paper...but to actually apply it and be able to, say, make a diminished vii triad on the spot is where it gets a little harder.

I know for sure you won't be able to learn distinction in no music theory book.


Hendrix was using music theory just as much as everyone else, if not consciously. Music theory isn't some artificial creation. It's basically empirical data collected over centuries...they didn't say OK play this and this and it sounds good. They said hey when I play this and this, it sounds good...and over time it became standardized.

Music theory isn't going to stop you from being unique...it'll just set you on the right path.
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Last edited by Xinlitik at Mar 4, 2007,
#10
Non-harmonic tones are still a part of music theory. So is atonality.


It's not so much that you're avoiding music theory; rather, you're just ignoring its presence


Which of course won't really help you grow at all, but if it works now it'll work later under the same conditions.
#11
Quote by Brawley
Well knowledge on music theory is great to know, but it does not make anyone better than any other musician. Take Jimi Hendrix for example, he did not know anything about music theory, but he knew how to get peoples attention by playing the way he played. So, my point is knowledge is great to get an idea of how to play more professional, and it does seperates you from a few people; however, it still holds you back because there are billions of people wanting to be pro-out musicians. I think if you want to be a great musician you should try to find your own distinct sound that can gather peoples attention. I know for sure you won't be able to learn distinction in no music theory book.



Complete ****ing nonsense.

You clearly haven't learned theory, or not much of it.
Don't tell me what can not be done

Don't tell me what can be done, either.



I love you all no matter what.
#12
Your goal is to internalize the theory to the point where you don't need to consciously thinking about it while you're playing

But never try to use that to rationalize ignoring it.


There are NO excuses for not learning theory and applying it. That's not saying you have to; it's your choice. But there is no way for you to say remaining ignorant is the better option.
#13
Hey, even if you think it can't help, try it, it sure won't hurt, and in the end, you might thank us.
Last edited by Gooze at Mar 5, 2007,
#14
yeah what Brawley said actually physically hurt my head when i read it..... i had to put an icepack on and drink some tequila and take 2 aspirin, thats how bad it hurt. Hendrix DID know theory, he was just unaware that he knew theory.
Last edited by z4twenny at Mar 5, 2007,
#15
I think learning theory or not learning theory totally depends on the style of music you want to be playing. I hate these people on UG who are like totally driven on the fact that you have to be loaded with theory, and everyone who says you don't is simply saying it because they're in denial and too lazy to learn it.

For example if you want to be a classical guitarist, load up on theory, if you want to play in a punk band, then it's not as essential. You can still sound good without knowing how to "harmonize the head in 4ths", as many a guitarist has shown over the years.

Penatonics go a long way...


P.S i do actually know a fair amount of theory myself, for anyone who's going to bash me saying im just saying that cos i dont know theory or whatever...
#16
Quote by skagitup
I think learning theory or not learning theory totally depends on the style of music you want to be playing. I hate these people on UG who are like totally driven on the fact that you have to be loaded with theory, and everyone who says you don't is simply saying it because they're in denial and too lazy to learn it.

For example if you want to be a classical guitarist, load up on theory, if you want to play in a punk band, then it's not as essential. You can still sound good without knowing how to "harmonize the head in 4ths", as many a guitarist has shown over the years.

Penatonics go a long way...


P.S i do actually know a fair amount of theory myself, for anyone who's going to bash me saying im just saying that cos i dont know theory or whatever...


No, you don't need to know theory to be a classical guitarist. In fact, many classical 'musicians' have a bad reputation for not being able to play when there is no sheet around.

Is it really just about sounding good though? You can sound good by only knowing a few chords. If it was just about sounding nice then we would all be playing the same stuff.

I stand by theory. No one has presented a logical argument as to why one shouldn't learn it.
Don't tell me what can not be done

Don't tell me what can be done, either.



I love you all no matter what.
#17
Theory is a means to an end, that end being creativity, and control over your instrument.
"Isn't it amazing anything's accomplished
When the little sensation gets in your way
Not one ambition whisperin' over your shoulder
Isn't it amazing you can do anything " - Gord Downie

From the song " Fireworks"
#18
I like to think about it this way. I'd rather have it and not need it, then need it and not have it. Theory is a great thing to have, whether or not you use it. I'd rather be able to just harmonize something off the top of my head than go and check what third of each note is, or whatever.

When I'm playing around on my guitar and trying to come up with a riff, I don't try and figure out any theory stuff. I just play. However, when I wanna expand on that riff and make it even better than it is by either harmonizing it, or adding a lead lick, or adding some dissonant chords over it, thats when theory comes in.

Theory is like the icing on the cake. It has the ability to give your music the extra flavor it needs, some extra spice. Now of course, not all pastries need that extra flavor, and that's why their are many bands which are extremely successful without using any extensive theory. But, it is still a great thing to have.
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#19
Theory is good . And will improve your playing. You'll have more control.
So during an imporv, You'll not going to hit too many sour notes.
And it won't be a hit and miss kind of thing.

You don't need it, but it's nice to have.
If your going to play in a band, It's alot faster to cummunicate
in what KEY. A singer vocal range is only so much.
Sometimes you need to transfer songs into different keys.

And it's a whole hell a lot easier to figure out songs by ear. Without
spending night and day memorizing dots. (tabs)
It's going to be in a certain key , with cetain chords, with certain modes.
Even the Axis pitch...which you can play in whatever key.
If you understand theory it's be easier to make it out.

Once you comprehence music. You can basically do whatever you want.
Plus you'll be able to do it over, over and over again.

I generally , Imporv at first to get a melody, riff and what not of a song.
With theory , it's alot easier to write other parts to a song or to resolve a song.
As rainman stated
Last edited by Ordinary at Mar 5, 2007,
#20
Quote by nightwind
No, you don't need to know theory to be a classical guitarist. In fact, many classical 'musicians' have a bad reputation for not being able to play when there is no sheet around.

Is it really just about sounding good though? You can sound good by only knowing a few chords. If it was just about sounding nice then we would all be playing the same stuff.

I stand by theory. No one has presented a logical argument as to why one shouldn't learn it.


I said "For Example" before i said that you should learn theory to be a classical guitarist, because you are more likely to need it.

We all have our own definitions for the words 'Sounding Good' and therefore I stick by my argument that it IS just about sounding good, be it that originallity etc. fall under it.

There is a simple logical argument as to why one shouldn't learn it, which is simply that different people want different things by playing guitar, and i'm sure someone who just plays a few chords every weekend for a hobby shouldn't waste his time learning theory, and so on. I'm not going to emphasize this point further, i'm sure you can use your imagination.

But don't get me wrong, i am certainly in favour of learning theory, i'm just saying that it's not ESSENTIAL.
Last edited by skagitup at Mar 5, 2007,
#21
^I wouldn't expect a hobbyist to learn theory. Very rarely is a guitar player that asks about theory on here a passive player though, they play at least 30 minutes a day or more.

If you are in an argument, you don't leave your counter-argument up to your opponent. I'm not sassing you, but like I said, I can't think of any reason to neglect learning theory.

It's essential to any composer. While there is exceptions to just about everything, I definately wouldn't see someone as an exception as one of the people who come on here and ask about it, or wonder if they can get by without it.

Bah, this is such an old argument with nothing yet presented in favour of the side of ignorance.
Don't tell me what can not be done

Don't tell me what can be done, either.



I love you all no matter what.
#22
Quote by nightwind
^I wouldn't expect a hobbyist to learn theory. Very rarely is a guitar player that asks about theory on here a passive player though, they play at least 30 minutes a day or more.

If you are in an argument, you don't leave your counter-argument up to your opponent. I'm not sassing you, but like I said, I can't think of any reason to neglect learning theory.

It's essential to any composer. While there is exceptions to just about everything, I definately wouldn't see someone as an exception as one of the people who come on here and ask about it, or wonder if they can get by without it.

Bah, this is such an old argument with nothing yet presented in favour of the side of ignorance.


Clearly i'm not in an argument because i stated at the end of my last post that we're of the same opinion, that theory is important. And sorry i didn't realise there were rules to arguments.

If you want to argue thats fine, but your finding the argument old because your points are repetative, you're going 'round in circles. My 'argument' is that theory isn't essential, thats all i said. I take it that you agree because it's impossible to disagree, as I have yet to define what it's not essential for. Am i saying that musical theory isn't essential if you want to cut the grass? I could be.

By learning theory, i mean alot of theory, (not just a few scales etc.) it's perfectly easy for someone to write a good song with a good solo that other people and the songwriter enjoy. That's a fact. There are people who've done it. I'm not saying they didn't use theory, maybe they did it naturally, but they didn't learn it.

As i've said a few times now, i agree with you that theory is important, but you can't strut around acting as if you can't play guitar without it, because you can.
#23
Your argument not an argument as to why someone shouldn't learn it.

It's simply stating that not everyone chooses to rise out of ignorance, something which we all agree with.
#24
Quote by Nick_
Your argument not an argument as to why someone shouldn't learn it.


Congratulations
#25
Personally I think balance is the key. Yeah theory gets a bit boring sometimes, but as stated many times it enables you to put pen to paper in musical terms. It's just a common language that we all use to communicate our melodic idea.
If you wanna just jam, go for it. At the end of the day music is a form of self expression, and you should play what you want to and what makes you feel good; but when you want to extend your range and demonstrate your ideas to musicians, theory is the language for it, and as said earlier is essential if you want to compose.
Now go and play some guitar!

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#26
Quote by skagitup

There is a simple logical argument as to why one shouldn't learn it,


misworded on your part, I'm sure, but I wouldn't want there to be any confusion.
#27
Listening to people arguing about music theory reminds me a little of listening to people argue about our current world situation.

In one corner you have the grumpy old conservatives, stubbornly insisting their way is the right way and the only way (although perhaps with a few misgivings deep down inside)

In the other corner, the liberals shrilly accusing them of what they know in their hearts to be true in some sense (that the conservatives are not 100% right) although they cannot offer any real alternative ideas or solutions.
#28
^The difference being that the people who don't learn formal theory are going to be learning it anyway through there own methods.(albeit at an extremely extremely slow pace) They will just have a more incomplete and not as thorough knowledge.
Don't tell me what can not be done

Don't tell me what can be done, either.



I love you all no matter what.
#29
Quote by nightwind
^The difference being that the people who don't learn formal theory are going to be learning it anyway through there own methods.(albeit at an extremely extremely slow pace) They will just have a more incomplete and not as thorough knowledge.

Aye. Not much point in trying to learn what's taken thousands of years to develop from scratch. Might as well read and learn about it and skip a few lifetimes of knowledge.

Change music theory to literacy or mathematics. Would you rather learn that from scratch, or read the mass amount of knowledge about it?
#30
Quote by Brawley
ake Jimi Hendrix for example, he did not know anything about music theory

He knew the blues inside out, stfu.

Oh and theory can't hold you back, the little I know has helped me a lot, particularly in improvisation.
#31
Dude, take what you have and what you know and rock out with it. If you're satisfied with the way you play right now.....start making your own music. And the only way you're gonna do that and the only way you're gonna expand into your own genre is if you rock out with what you like and what inspires you most. You don't need a shit-load of theory to become your own guitarist, jsut satisfaction.

If you're not satisfied, practice things you know you cant play. That's all I can say, and God bless you classic rockers. KCRG
#32
I might be the only one like this, but I really like learning theory.

It's so interesting to me, and then it's even cooler when I can go home and apply it to my playing.

imo after learning theory, everything on guitar came so much faster to me. Like all the licks i've been playing made sense and I was able to go home and just make a million licks, and start developing my own style.

Theory is especially useful now for my improvising.
#33
Quote by ouchies
I might be the only one like this, but I really like learning theory.

It's so interesting to me, and then it's even cooler when I can go home and apply it to my playing.

imo after learning theory, everything on guitar came so much faster to me. Like all the licks i've been playing made sense and I was able to go home and just make a million licks, and start developing my own style.

Theory is especially useful now for my improvising.


Well, you already have someone on here who is their own guitarist.

You like theory, so you're songs will probably be well structured. from my standpoint
#34
When you start learning theory it's hard to use it practically, think of it more as a long term investment. It's only when you have totally assimilated theory to the point that you nearly don't have to think about it that it will really help you.
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#35
Theory is just experience written down, jesus, why all this resistance to learn it? It's the most logical thing in the world if you want to get better and know more about music!
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#36
Quote by ouchies
I might be the only one like this, but I really like learning theory.

It's so interesting to me, and then it's even cooler when I can go home and apply it to my playing.

imo after learning theory, everything on guitar came so much faster to me. Like all the licks i've been playing made sense and I was able to go home and just make a million licks, and start developing my own style.

Theory is especially useful now for my improvising.


Hell yes! I'm exactly like that way too.

What is theory going to do? How is it going to hurt your playing? One of these days, I'm going to record a solo using lots of theory and feel to see how much it "hurts" my playing.
DANNY

Quote by kevinm4435 to some guy
hey d00d i herd u dont like shred u r a genius 4 thinkin dat. all shred is fukin lame wit no soul u no wat im sayin??
#37
Knowing theory will help you break the rules and make it still sound good.
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