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#2
I personally think theory (the informal theory) is songwriting skills put to words.
In short, learn more theory.
#5
Just write, it will probably be pretty crappy at first whilst you build your songwriting skills, but it will soon improve.

Learning theory won't really help you write original stuff, because if it's been described by theory, then you can guarantee that it's been played many times before. Songwriting is one of those things where you have to go with your heart, not your head.
#6
Oh no...don't start this bull**** again.
Quote by elgalad
Learning theory won't really help you write original stuff, because if it's been described by theory, then you can guarantee that it's been played many times before. Songwriting is one of those things where you have to go with your heart, not your head.

#7
Knowing music theory doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be treading old ground. As a matter of fact, knowing theory will actually HELP you be original. Most people who play music and write music that don't really know what they're doing just end up playing something and HOPE that it sounds good, or sounds like what they want it to sound like. The people that actually know theory, understand intervals, and really know what they're doing are going to be able to compose music much more easily because they will (probably) know how to achieve a certain sound, or recognize the intervals in a melody that they have in their heads.

And, the I-IV-V chord progression has been used many times before, but people still continue to plaster their names all over it giving themselves songwriting credit for writing a standard 12-bar.
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#8
Quote by elgalad
Just write, it will probably be pretty crappy at first whilst you build your songwriting skills, but it will soon improve.

Learning theory won't really help you write original stuff, because if it's been described by theory, then you can guarantee that it's been played many times before. Songwriting is one of those things where you have to go with your heart, not your head.


Music theory can be probably be used to describe anything you've ever written in your life, does that make all of your stuff unoriginal?

And everything you've written could have been much faster by someone who knows theory.

Just because you're too dumb to understand theory, doesn't mean you should put people who will be able to understand it off.

So, to sum up:

A person who knows theory > you.
#9
Quote by 12345abcd3
A person who knows theory > you.
Music theory, to a degree is inherit in every musician. You dont need to learn theory to know theory.
#10
Quote by demonofthenight
Music theory, to a degree is inherit in every musician. You dont need to learn theory to know theory.


i'm assuming you mean when you show a beginner an A chord, they can make it but don't know the theory behind it.

otherwise that comment doesn't really make sense. care to enlighten me?
Quote by coolstoryangus
Pffffffft schematics


Although i guess the OP will have to get used to reading them if he's going to buy a bugera..
Quote by gregs1020


along with fire escape routes...

#11
Quote by 12345abcd3
Music theory can be probably be used to describe anything you've ever written in your life, does that make all of your stuff unoriginal?

And everything you've written could have been much faster by someone who knows theory.

Just because you're too dumb to understand theory, doesn't mean you should put people who will be able to understand it off.

So, to sum up:

A person who knows theory > you.


Actually, I would venture that I know as much theory as just about anybody on the forums, but what you're forgetting is that theory is descriptive NOT prescriptive. You think people using theory would have come up with using a minor scale over a major progression to give the blues? I doubt it.

Besides that argument, it's absolutely not necessary to know theory in order to play what you hear in your head. To me, if you need theory to do that, then you have to spend more time training your ear. When I hear something in my head or on a record and I want to play I just play it, I don't think about what the intervals are going to be because there's no disconnect in my head between what I'm hearing and what I'm playing. Theory comes in later, if I want to work out why something sounds the way it does.

By all means, learn as much theory as possible, I am all for it. However, the OP's question wasn't just about whether he should learn theory, it was about what the best way to develop his songwriting.

My advice: Train your ear until you can easily play whatever you're hearing in your head, then you'll be able to write much easier. Also, practice writing, write a song every day for a month, even if it's a terrible song, you'll learn something. He could learn all the theory in the world, but that wouldn't build his songwriting skills as effectively as ear training and practice.
#12
Quote by elgalad
Actually, I would venture that I know as much theory as just about anybody on the forums, but what you're forgetting is that theory is descriptive NOT prescriptive. You think people using theory would have come up with using a minor scale over a major progression to give the blues? I doubt it.

Besides that argument, it's absolutely not necessary to know theory in order to play what you hear in your head. To me, if you need theory to do that, then you have to spend more time training your ear. When I hear something in my head or on a record and I want to play I just play it, I don't think about what the intervals are going to be because there's no disconnect in my head between what I'm hearing and what I'm playing. Theory comes in later, if I want to work out why something sounds the way it does.

By all means, learn as much theory as possible, I am all for it. However, the OP's question wasn't just about whether he should learn theory, it was about what the best way to develop his songwriting.

My advice: Train your ear until you can easily play whatever you're hearing in your head, then you'll be able to write much easier. Also, practice writing, write a song every day for a month, even if it's a terrible song, you'll learn something. He could learn all the theory in the world, but that wouldn't build his songwriting skills as effectively as ear training and practice.


i won't get into an argument because i think it's stupid really (the arguing not the points made, although i am completely pro theory).

although the comment i highlighted is a very stupid argument, if someone decided "well i will play a minor scale over a major key", obviously they A) knew the difference between major and minor. B) they knew how to construct major chords and the minor scale (or blues scale or whatever). C) if they created a extremely popular genre of music i'm sure they would know theory.

hearing something and playing it, i'm sure theres some theory involved along the way though, wether you like it or not.
Quote by coolstoryangus
Pffffffft schematics


Although i guess the OP will have to get used to reading them if he's going to buy a bugera..
Quote by gregs1020


along with fire escape routes...

#13
hey pioson

You can get Audacity for free. It's a Free digital recorder for PC.
You can also download drum loops from veriouse sites and import
it into Audacity. Audacity can import mp3, Ogg, wave files.
Then you can create your own drum loops patterns.

Being familar with drumings will help you write music

If you have a practice amp with a phono jack. Run it to the mic
jack of your PC.

Anyway, just start playing to different druming patterns.
Praticing playing to veriouse druming patterns had help me a lot.

Then just lay down some simple chord progressions or riffs.
You can surf the net for chord progressions , use some from
your favorite songs...just stum it different.

Audacity will allow you to loop, cut, insert tracks.

Hearing yourself on playback will also improve your playing
and writing. If it dosn't sound right to you...change it.

You can also try downloading magix music maker.
it'll give you a general idea of using a PC digital recorder and
how some songs are structured
#14
Quote by elgalad
Actually, I would venture that I know as much theory as just about anybody on the forums, but what you're forgetting is that theory is descriptive NOT prescriptive. You think people using theory would have come up with using a minor scale over a major progression to give the blues? I doubt it.

Besides that argument, it's absolutely not necessary to know theory in order to play what you hear in your head. To me, if you need theory to do that, then you have to spend more time training your ear. When I hear something in my head or on a record and I want to play I just play it, I don't think about what the intervals are going to be because there's no disconnect in my head between what I'm hearing and what I'm playing. Theory comes in later, if I want to work out why something sounds the way it does.

By all means, learn as much theory as possible, I am all for it. However, the OP's question wasn't just about whether he should learn theory, it was about what the best way to develop his songwriting.

My advice: Train your ear until you can easily play whatever you're hearing in your head, then you'll be able to write much easier. Also, practice writing, write a song every day for a month, even if it's a terrible song, you'll learn something. He could learn all the theory in the world, but that wouldn't build his songwriting skills as effectively as ear training and practice.


I was quite harsh earlier (i was pissed about something else) so i'm sorry about that.

However, i still think theory is good for songwriting. Maybe the basic song won't come from theory, that could just come from a progression he thought of and him singing along to it. However, once you have your progression, a knowledge of theory allows you to know what key it's in so you know what scale to use to solo over it, theory allows you to think about the intervals between the bass and the lead guitar so you can make your song more interesting.

I'm not saying theory is everything but imagine if you knew absoloutely nothing about theory. Would you still be as good a songwriter?
#15
Quote by aradine
i'm assuming you mean when you show a beginner an A chord, they can make it but don't know the theory behind it.

otherwise that comment doesn't really make sense. care to enlighten me?
Think a noob, whos just picked up a giutar/sat down at the piano. First he/she/trap tries to write something, he/she/trap just plays any random notes. he/she/trap realises that this sounds like shit, so than he/she/trap plays something else and keeps to the same 5 notes. he/she/trap realises this sounds good, he/she/trap has just invented the pentatonic scale. Although it took he/she/trap about 6 months, he/she/trap did it with out reading. Than he/she/trap wanted something to be played underneath (knowledge that melodies sound good with harmonic content is in itself musical theory) like all the songs he/she/trap hears on the radio, so he/she/trap plays a couple of notes underneath, but this sounds crap. So he/she/trap plays something else, this time it sounds good. he/she/trap has just invented chords.

Anyway that bullshit keeps going untill he/she/trap knows enough to write a nice sounding song.


Quote by elgalad
long post about "playing what you hear in your head
Whilst that is essentially a very creative way to *start* writing a melody, it will lead to musical bullshit if you dont apply theory.
It will most likely not be phrased into something pleasant. It will most likely not resolve in the end, and if something doesnt sound right in it you wouldnt know how to make it sound righ 'cause you need theory, and theory is evil.
You wouldnt even know what chords to play under it. You'll probably spend hours playing random chords underneath untill something sound decent. But I'll know instantly the chord I want under there. All I'll have to think about is what kind of feeling I want. And dont get me started on chord progressions.
And than applying rhthym to it, you'll probably apply something random. Me, I'll use my knowledge of stressed and unstressed and syncopation and anacrusic melodies to make the melody even more catchy.
Consider this, it takes shakespear about a day to write something genious. But it would take us our whole lives to write even a decent play. This is how it is with music. Do you think shakespear was born with his genious? No, he developed it himself it.
This is all just examples, your post enraged me too much to post anything substantial. Sorry if anyone thinks I'm getting too angry about this.

And if your actually a troll... Well done.
#16
Quote by demonofthenight
Whilst that is essentially a very creative way to *start* writing a melody, it will lead to musical bullshit if you dont apply theory.
It will most likely not be phrased into something pleasant. It will most likely not resolve in the end, and if something doesnt sound right in it you wouldnt know how to make it sound righ 'cause you need theory, and theory is evil.
You wouldnt even know what chords to play under it. You'll probably spend hours playing random chords underneath untill something sound decent. But I'll know instantly the chord I want under there. All I'll have to think about is what kind of feeling I want. And dont get me started on chord progressions.
And than applying rhthym to it, you'll probably apply something random. Me, I'll use my knowledge of stressed and unstressed and syncopation and anacrusic melodies to make the melody even more catchy.
Consider this, it takes shakespear about a day to write something genious. But it would take us our whole lives to write even a decent play. This is how it is with music. Do you think shakespear was born with his genious? No, he developed it himself it.
This is all just examples, your post enraged me too much to post anything substantial. Sorry if anyone thinks I'm getting too angry about this.

And if your actually a troll... Well done.


Let's clear one thing up. Nowhere did I say you shouldn't learn theory. It's an important songwriting tool when it's used to build on an original idea you have, but it shouldn't be the sole driving force behind your songwriting. At an early stage, it's far more important to develop a strong listening skills that enable you to use the guitar to vocalize the creative ideas in your head.

As for the rest of you post. If I hear something in my head that I like, and then I add other parts from my own mind onto that to build a dong that I like, how exactly is it going to sound bad? What does a bad song even sound like? After all, isn't this all subjective anyway? Do you have any idea how many popular songs don't actually resolve in a theoretically correct sense?

Of course theory can be useful for building on a good song idea, but don't confuse theory with a good ear. Knowing what something is going to sound like in a certain context isn't theory-based, it's ear based and comes from having a strong connection between your ears and fingers.

How the hell did people like Clapton and Hendrix ever write anything is you need to know theory to write good songs? Because beyond a few basic scales, they certainly didn't have an intricate knowledge of musical theory.

No, I'm not a troll and yes, I do know my theory; and I use it regularly, but all of the major parts of my songs come from original ideas in my mind that I've transferred onto the guitar, not from knowing that I can get a more major sound by pedalling the natural 6th of the Dorian mode, or that V7-I will give me a strong resolution.

Summary: Theory, good. Ear training, better.

EDIT: Oh, and would you like to explain to me exactly what the definition of "musical bull****" is? Because last time I checked, there were no rules to making music, it's just a matter of personal taste.
Last edited by elgalad at May 24, 2008,
#17
There is no point in time where you can stop learning music theory if you plan to start for one simple reason. There's always more.

Want to learn to write good music? Use the theory you know already and the techniques you're capable of performing and put them together into a song.

In a year do the same, then look back and see how much you've learned.

And never write anything you can't play.
#18
Quote by demonofthenight
Music theory, to a degree is inherit in every musician. You dont need to learn theory to know theory.


not really..... and yeah you do.

Quote by the_poison125
What should i learn?

I know some theory. Scales and chords and stuff. the basic techniques (Alternate picking and stuff)



Listen to and learn ALOT of songs.

If you have the theoretical background for it:

- study their structure/form
- study the chord progressions

If you don't know any theory, you can still write music.

Listen......learn....... get creative
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at May 24, 2008,
#19
Let's see here, I'll toss a little something in.

It is true that, on average, someone who studies theory and is proficient has a significantly easier time writing out/arranging/etc. what they want than someone who doesn't. However, their ability to apply scales, keys, chords, modulations, harmony, etc. depends entirely on their knowing how they SOUND. Thus, someone could be pretty damn good at writing songs without studying theory. However, this is somewhat like refusing to do research on how a lightbulb works and instead going off into the wilderness with some wires and a piece of glass. Eventually you'll understand it just as well as anyone else, it'll just take you longer to get there. Even legends who didn't know theory could have done what they did more easily if they had learned it(learned it well, of course).

So, back on topic. Learn theory, but instead of just memorizing scale formulas and modes, get your ear to recognize what you're learning. That's what we all aim for anyway.
#20
Quote by ordinary_story
You need to learn teh writing skills first methinks.

Seconded.


Learn more about chords, how they're made, how scales go over chords, basic progressions, harmony, and cadences. All that should help out a lot for songwriting.
“Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”


-Max Planck

☮∞☯♥
#21
Quote by grampastumpy
Let's see here, I'll toss a little something in.

It is true that, on average, someone who studies theory and is proficient has a significantly easier time writing out/arranging/etc. what they want than someone who doesn't. However, their ability to apply scales, keys, chords, modulations, harmony, etc. depends entirely on their knowing how they SOUND. Thus, someone could be pretty damn good at writing songs without studying theory. However, this is somewhat like refusing to do research on how a lightbulb works and instead going off into the wilderness with some wires and a piece of glass. Eventually you'll understand it just as well as anyone else, it'll just take you longer to get there. Even legends who didn't know theory could have done what they did more easily if they had learned it(learned it well, of course).

So, back on topic. Learn theory, but instead of just memorizing scale formulas and modes, get your ear to recognize what you're learning. That's what we all aim for anyway.



I agree with your concept that learning theory is good, and helpful. But the idea that legends could have done what they did more easily..... thats pure speculation. Some may have been better with theory knowledge..... but then some may have not. Either way, knowing that they did successfully create music without a "proper" theory background is valuable knowledge and shouldn't be ignored.

As people that study music, We have to be open to the fact that there are many approaches to being successful at creating music. The "ears on/hands on" approach taken by many artists is a completely valid and often successful way to go about making music.

Depending on what you plan to do, theory may or may not be necessary. Bottom line though, If your interested in it..... follow that interest. If your into it and someone else is successful without..... be open minded to that and never downplay it.
shred is gaudy music
#22
Quote by GuitarMunky
I agree with your concept that learning theory is good, and helpful. But the idea that legends could have done what they did more easily..... thats pure speculation. Some may have been better with theory knowledge..... but then some may have not. Either way, knowing that they did successfully create music without a "proper" theory background is valuable knowledge and shouldn't be ignored.

As people that study music, We have to be open to the fact that there are many approaches to being successful at creating music. The "ears on/hands on" approach taken by many artists is a completely valid and often successful way to go about making music.

Depending on what you plan to do, theory may or may not be necessary. Bottom line though, If your interested in it..... follow that interest. If your into it and someone else is successful without..... be open minded to that and never downplay it.
I guess you have a point, but there aren't really any cases where it would've HURT someone's abilities to write(assuming they didn't learn about keys, stop there, and assume they always had to stay in key). I'm not downplaying the non-formal-theory-studying approach at all. It just takes a much better "natural" musician to use it to get to the same level anyone else could get studying theory. Obviously, these natural musicians DO exist and they've done fantastically without studying anything.
#23
Quote by grampastumpy
I guess you have a point, but there aren't really any cases where it would've HURT someone's abilities to write(assuming they didn't learn about keys, stop there, and assume they always had to stay in key). I'm not downplaying the non-formal-theory-studying approach at all. It just takes a much better "natural" musician to use it to get to the same level anyone else could get studying theory. Obviously, these natural musicians DO exist and they've done fantastically without studying anything.



Yeah sorry, I just hate when I see it implied that the "theory" way is the ultimate way. Everyone uses that "if XXX knew theory they would be even better" argument. I guess I just don't buy that particular argument. I agree of-course that anyone interested in theory should by all means follow that interest. It's fascinating, and enlightening.
shred is gaudy music
#24
Quote by GuitarMunky
Yeah sorry, I just hate when I see it implied that the "theory" way is the ultimate way. Everyone uses that "if XXX knew theory they would be even better" argument. I guess I just don't buy that particular argument. I agree of-course that anyone interested in theory should by all means follow that interest. It's fascinating, and enlightening.
I personally don't think it would necessarily make their music better, I just think there's a good chance that they would have had an easier time making their music with a solid knowledge of theory. And yeah, totally, some people are total theory elitists sometimes. My only thing with people who don't know theory is that they can be hard to jam with.
Last edited by grampastumpy at May 24, 2008,
#25
Quote by grampastumpy
I personally don't think it would necessarily make their music better, I just think there's a good chance that they would have had an easier time making their music with a solid knowledge of theory. And yeah, totally, some people are total theory elitists sometimes. My only thing with people who don't know theory is that they can be hard to jam with.


agreed to all of that.
shred is gaudy music
#26
I dunno ...

A lot of people have no clue what a tantilum capcitor actually do and their
veriouse funtion on a PCB. It never stopped them from surfing the net
or flicking the I/O switch of thier amps.

my gf has no knowlege of music theory but she written many beautiful
songs...and many songs that just hurts my ears too.
She sings like an angle thou .
Last edited by Ordinary at May 25, 2008,
#27
Music theory is just explaining the way music works, and whether or not you know your theory, it's gonna work that way, so shut up and learn some theory.
#28
Work what way , which way ?

shut the hell up..
I been playing music twice as long as you been alive.
obviousely...taking music lessons from the day I could walk included
some theory, reading.

I imagine I jammed with musicains without music theory training more
than not...they know how to create music wihout theory.
Last edited by Ordinary at May 25, 2008,
#29
^
The argument isn't wheter or not it's possible to create music without a formal knowledge of theory, but whether or not it would be easier to express an idea with a formal knowledge of theory. My dad doesn't know the formal explanations to a lot of the things that he does on the guitar, but he can still do them (most of the time just picking something up off of a record).

Anyway, when you're playing very basic music, it's fairly easy to come up with a catchy song just by using your ear. But it becomes much more difficult to come up with chord progressions in jazz if you're only going off of your ear (believe me, I've tried!).
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#30
first learn the difference between the 2 cm between the I and the U on your keyboard
#31
Quote by GuitarMunky
I agree with your concept that learning theory is good, and helpful. But the idea that legends could have done what they did more easily..... thats pure speculation. Some may have been better with theory knowledge..... but then some may have not. Either way, knowing that they did successfully create music without a "proper" theory background is valuable knowledge and shouldn't be ignored.

As people that study music, We have to be open to the fact that there are many approaches to being successful at creating music. The "ears on/hands on" approach taken by many artists is a completely valid and often successful way to go about making music.

Depending on what you plan to do, theory may or may not be necessary. Bottom line though, If your interested in it..... follow that interest. If your into it and someone else is successful without..... be open minded to that and never downplay it.


However, just because some of the legends didn't know theory doesn't mean you shouldn't. Also, Hendrix, for example, would have learned theory but not in the way we know it, he would have learned what sounds good over what, which is essentially what theory tells you. It is no coincidence that most of his stuff fits neatly into the pentatonic scale, he obviously knew these scales, and knew what they sounded good over.

Also, to use the lightbulb metaphor someone used earlier, just because one person comes out of the forest with a working lightbulb while hundreds of others fail, doesn't mean that you should not learn how to make the lightbulb.
#32
Actaully RR was my idol.lol

My first intrument was the sax when I was in second grade and I play guitar
in the HS jazz band.. can't imagine all that theory didn't get drilled in my head
every freanken day for decades.lol

To top it off my father is a musician and the guitar is his main instrument
There's guitars everywhere in the house.lol
I imagine he drilled alot of theory into my head now and then.lmao

I didn't come out of the womb screaming pentatonic, thou.
#33
Quote by :-D
Oh no...don't start this bull**** again.




totally with you on this > hense why i have learnt absolutely no thery whatsoever.
and im told by quite a few that im quite the song-writer
#34
Quote by AwesomeDrummer
totally with you on this > hense why i have learnt absolutely no thery whatsoever.
and im told by quite a few that im quite the song-writer
lrn 2 spll ploxy it cun gett rly anyin sumtimes, especly sinc we r tha 1s tryn to red ur pst, u diggg?

So you have no strategies when writing music? So you have no musical ideas about what sounds good and what doesnt?

What goes through your head when you write music?
#36
Well... to sum everything up, KNOW THE RULES!!! THEN YOU'LL KNOW HOW TO BREAK THEM!!!
#37
^ but, you missed the point. theory isn't rules. as someone stated earlier, its a descriptive device so to speak.

i believe you can know some music theory inherently but it's really more like knowing "i know this and this sounds like this and this and this goes together and sounds like this" i think it's possible to know the idea behind it without knowing the names as before i started learning music theory i had already learned the minor scale, the major scale, the minor blues (w/ the b5) phrygian and mixolydian scale. i didn't know these were the names of the scales but i knew where the notes were and how to transpose them to different keys.
#38
Quote by z4twenny
^ but, you missed the point. theory isn't rules. as someone stated earlier, its a descriptive device so to speak.



This is true, but you have to realize a lot of people had to learn about classical harmony with their theory, and that is largely a set of rules, although many great classical composers broke them, so it's not hard for people to get confused.
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#39
Quote by Kid_Thorazine
This is true, but you have to realize a lot of people had to learn about classical harmony with their theory, and that is largely a set of rules, although many great classical composers broke them, so it's not hard for people to get confused.


well not to be argumentative, but most guitarists don't sit down to learn classical harmony with their theory. i think quite a few get into scales, chord construction and after that alot of guitarists think they know all they need to know (and if thats all they want to learn, then no need to force anything that won't be used)

but saying many great classical composers broke them is like saying "theres these harmony rules, but really they're more like suggestions to follow until you get a better idea that you don't need to follow them for"
#40
Quote by z4twenny
well not to be argumentative, but most guitarists don't sit down to learn classical harmony with their theory. i think quite a few get into scales, chord construction and after that alot of guitarists think they know all they need to know (and if thats all they want to learn, then no need to force anything that won't be used)

but saying many great classical composers broke them is like saying "theres these harmony rules, but really they're more like suggestions to follow until you get a better idea that you don't need to follow them for"


yeah but a lot of guitarists got a lot a decent bit of this stuff hammered into their heads in grade school with teachers who insist that classical harmony as codified by so and so is the only right way to do things, and then they forget whatever it was they where taught but remember all of that crap, theres also quite a few books on theory that take that stance as well.

as for the second part of your post, I think that's probably how this stuff should be taught, but unfortunately that's not how it is, which turns a lot of people off.
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