#1
Hay hay! I'm not too sure if this has been asked before, BUT, I was just wondering if anybody knows which well known guitarists or other instrumentalists don't, or can't read music?

I've personally always wondered if John Frusciante actually writes his music in notes so that he doesn't forget his music. Or if he just records it, and can re learn a song just by listening to it again? You know, or can he read sheet music and stuff?

If this has been asked dozens of times, then mods just delete. This forum is WAY too big to search it entirely, but so far I havn't found my question answered!
#3
Quote by jazz_croatia
Dave Mustaine. That is all.


Didn't know that but, it doesn't suprise me!, to follow that list.

Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert, Steve Via all can. 90% sure, seen as their also instructors.
#6
Quote by CraigKing
Didn't know that but, it doesn't suprise me!, to follow that list.

Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert, Steve Via all can. 90% sure, seen as their also instructors.


Eh? Surely those 3 can read sheet music.
#7
Clapton claims he couldn't read music when he was in Cream.
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#9
Quote by pmc100
Slash says he doesn't know much theory or read music.


does anybody think that saying you dont know any theory may be one of those things that is just cool to say?

like "ive never had a lesson"

i think if nothing else, then slash knows the pentatonics....
#10
Quote by Soul Vomitor
Eh? Surely those 3 can read sheet music.

*ahem*
Quote by CraigKing

Joe Satriani, Paul Gilbert, Steve Via all can. 90% sure, seen as their also instructors.

#11
Quote by Emil_Gorecki
Hay hay! I'm not too sure if this has been asked before, BUT, I was just wondering if anybody knows which well known guitarists or other instrumentalists don't, or can't read music?
I've personally always wondered if John Frusciante actually writes his music in notes so that he doesn't forget his music. Or if he just records it, and can re learn a song just by listening to it again? You know, or can he read sheet music and stuff?
If this has been asked dozens of times, then mods just delete. This forum is WAY too big to search it entirely, but so far I havn't found my question answered!


Frusciante learnt to play the Chilis stuff by ear both before he joined and after his departure before coming back after Dave.

I know that Clapton wasn't supposed to be able to read music, neither was Hendrix I hear.
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#12
Chuck Schuldiner


Chuck's music was based heavily on ear harmony!

Contrary to what many assumed, Schuldiner was in fact not well schooled in musical theory. He found "playing by ear" to be a more effective and advisable method. Schuldiner did "make up" his own scales and modes (many of which ended up being real scales, such as harmonic minor and melodic minor) which Schuldiner frequently utilized in his solos, a testament to his excellent ear. This also led him to create his odd fingering positions which very much defined his style.
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#13
lots of people don't. i know some absolutely awesome guitarists in awesome bands who don't know theory. at all. they just have a really good ear, yknow? they can hear in their mind exactly what they want to play, and they can transfer it to guitar. thats something that most people can attain, but for most of us it takes a long time and a lot of effort. thats why we use theory, to help narrow down the choices, to make it easier to translate the idea we have in our mind into the notes we play on our guitar.
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#14
Hendrix couldn't read notes. Neither could any of the Beatles, I'm pretty sure. I know McCartney can't.

I'd wager there's a fair number of popular guitarists who can't necessarily read sheet music.
#15
Quote by Gurgle!Argh!
we use theory, to help narrow down the choices


Absolutely true...
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#16
Quote by branny1982
does anybody think that saying you dont know any theory may be one of those things that is just cool to say?

like "ive never had a lesson"

i think if nothing else, then slash knows the pentatonics....


I don't know, he probably knew his scales and stuff, but only because a lot of instructors teach scales.

Theory is just a way to explain sounds, so the only thing that really matters is if it sounds good, right?

Although, all of their songs are in a key, ya know? None of their songs are just random notes thrown together.

But I'm sure he didn't read sheet music. Neither did Angus or Malcolm Young.
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#17
slash can read music (he covered for hetfield way back when he burned himself, he sight read almost the entire set off of sheet music) dimebag could read sheet music and actually knew quite a bit of theory but he even stated that he didn't consciously use it, he just put his hands where they wanted to go. pretty much all the great classical/neo classical guitarists can/could. vai, gilbert, satch, petrucci, rhoads. hendrix couldn't read sheet music but he did know theory (though he didnt know the names, he knew that this chord sounded this way and this one sounded this way and this is a good scale etc etc)
#18
Lots of greats couldnt read/cant read music. Hendrix, slash, SRV.

SRV said he just listened and replicated, Slash has said he knowls little theory and can read music but over the years he learned what scales/notes flow in and out of each other well.
#20
Quote by Soul Vomitor
Eh? Surely those 3 can read sheet music.


100% sure...
Vai had to play with zappa only by reading sheet-music
And not the most easy songs! :O
#21
Quote by Emil_Gorecki
Hay hay! I'm not too sure if this has been asked before, BUT, I was just wondering if anybody knows which well known guitarists or other instrumentalists don't, or can't read music?

I've personally always wondered if John Frusciante actually writes his music in notes so that he doesn't forget his music. Or if he just records it, and can re learn a song just by listening to it again? You know, or can he read sheet music and stuff?

If this has been asked dozens of times, then mods just delete. This forum is WAY too big to search it entirely, but so far I havn't found my question answered!


John Frusciante can play guitar, piano, drums, bass and synths (sorry if I'm forgetting anything) so he obviously can read and write music but he generally just records what he plays. Most of his stuff is improvised as well. He does know sheet music (to some extent or another) but finds it 'time consuming' to write.
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#25
Quote by Gurgle!Argh!
lots of people don't. i know some absolutely awesome guitarists in awesome bands who don't know theory. at all. they just have a really good ear, yknow? they can hear in their mind exactly what they want to play, and they can transfer it to guitar. thats something that most people can attain, but for most of us it takes a long time and a lot of effort. thats why we use theory, to help narrow down the choices, to make it easier to translate the idea we have in our mind into the notes we play on our guitar.

No, we use theory to expand our choices.

Also, knowing music theory and knowing how to read sheet music are not the same thing, you can learn either without having any knowledge of the other.
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#26
I'm fairly sure that B.B. King can't, and he says he doesn't know (or play) chords and the like. However, it's rather irrelevant and useless information knowing who knows what.
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#27
Paul McCartney..... end of story
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#28
Quote by trey-col89
Paul McCartney..... end of story

So the moral of this story is...learn your theory or you'll end up married to a one-legged gold-digger?
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#29
Quote by felixdcat
Ear is the final judge.


And also the best judge. You can know all the theory in the world, but if you can't hear and feel the notes going together, you're screwed. Having a good ear is more important than slaving for years in a music theory class. An ear cannot be replicated.

This is coming from someone who's been in theory classes for almost 7 years.
#30
Quote by steven seagull
No, we use theory to expand our choices.

Also, knowing music theory and knowing how to read sheet music are not the same thing, you can learn either without having any knowledge of the other.


not really. playing music is all about transferring the concept you hear in your mind to the music you create with your instrument. this can be difficult. there are lots of notes. theory helps you know which notes might give the desired effect at any given time. ergo, it narrows down our choices.

i mean, obviously it must narrow down our choices. to the mind without theory, in trying to figure out which note should come next, its purely a case of basing it on trying to play from all 12 notes the note heard in the head. with theory, some of those notes can be ruled out, because with a proper knowledge of theory you'll know a certain interval gives a certain sound very different to the one which is desired. therefore, by definition, theory is narrowing down the choices. it doesnt mean its a bad thing, because its narrowing them down by getting rid of the ones which clearly aren't useful choices in expressing the concept found in the mind.

on a side note, whilst you're generally correct on the reading music/music theory side, to an extent they are interlinked. to read sheet music properly you need to be able to understand the principles of keys and of time signatures. which are music theory.
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Last edited by Gurgle!Argh! at Nov 21, 2007,
#31
Quote by steven seagull
So the moral of this story is...learn your theory or you'll end up married to a one-legged gold-digger?

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#32
Quote by steven seagull
So the moral of this story is...learn your theory or you'll end up married to a one-legged gold-digger?

If youd like sure.
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#33


And also the best judge. You can know all the theory in the world, but if you can't hear and feel the notes going together, you're screwed. Having a good ear is more important than slaving for years in a music theory class. An ear cannot be replicated.

This is coming from someone who's been in theory classes for almost 7 years.


Which is why Beethoven did so badly.
#34
Quote by capiCrimm
Which is why Beethoven did so badly.


Wrong. He wasn't always deaf and his ears were so good that he no longer needed them later in life.

Also, he was one of the people inventing theory. His writings weren't based on rules. The rules were based on his writing.
#35
This might have been said already, but a lot of really famous musicians don't know much theory. Hendrix didn't really know much at all. Neither did B.B. King or Eric Clapton.

With that said, 99.9% of us aren't Hendrix, King, or Clapton. Which is why we have to learn theory and reading music.
#36
Quote by lemonsquares42
This might have been said already, but a lot of really famous musicians don't know much theory. Hendrix didn't really know much at all. Neither did B.B. King or Eric Clapton.

With that said, 99.9% of us aren't Hendrix, King, or Clapton. Which is why we have to learn theory and reading music.


lol so true... i just hate the learning part, but it pays off eventually once you learn to write your own music
#37
there are a lot really who cant. id say almost all blues players cannot or couldnt. some jazz players didnt either. i think wes montgomery couldnt and hes one of the jazz greats. these days i think more people can, but back in the day i think most guys just picked up and listened. like sting said he learned how to play by listening to clapton play on the bluesbreakers album. i think he can read now but a lot of people learned like that.