#1
So I'm very frustrated with music theory. My question is, do I really need to know this stuff to be a successful musician? Honestly, these days bands just play power chords and theyre famous..Ive never heard of anyone understanding music theory and making it big...can someone enlighten me?
#3
If you're too lazy to learn music theory, then you probably don't have the drive to be a successful musician.
#4
Play whatever you want. If you want to learn theory, great. If you don't, great, just don't complain when you are hindered by your lack of knowledge.

Also, playing music should be about you, not about "success".
#5
Quote by Minoroffense
So I'm very frustrated with music theory. My question is, do I really need to know this stuff to be a successful musician? Honestly, these days bands just play power chords and theyre famous..Ive never heard of anyone understanding music theory and making it big...can someone enlighten me?


I'm sure they still know music theory, no one gets big just from knowing music theory..
#7
If you're playing guitar to get famous/rich I highly recommend quitting while you're ahead of yourself.
#8
Quote by Minoroffense
So I'm very frustrated with music theory. My question is, do I really need to know this stuff to be a successful musician? Honestly, these days bands just play power chords and theyre famous..Ive never heard of anyone understanding music theory and making it big...can someone enlighten me?

Lots of people that "make it big" understand theory. Lots of them don't

If you don't feel like studying it, then don't. keep listening to and playing music. keep enjoying it. Maybe in the future you'll become interested in theory, if so, pursue it then.

Either way, theory is not required to become a successful musician. (most successful musicians would tell you though that it can help alot).
shred is gaudy music
#9
Whatever you do, chances are you wont be successful anyway, so don't worry about it.
#11
Quote by PanteraRapesYou
I completely agree with you... Power Chords are all the rage now...


what's your point?
you still should know theory even if the majority of your riffs are Powerchords, you can add little things on to powerchords.

TS : Yes, music theory is essential to writing songs, the majority of my own songs are powerchords, but the theory I've learned this summer has helped me so much
#12
Quote by one vision
Hah, telling it like it is.


Always do.

If you want to be a teacher, then you need to know theory, all of it. If your planning on being a big star, give up and get a real job.
#13
Quote by CowboyUp
Play whatever you want. If you want to learn theory, great. If you don't, great, just don't complain when you are hindered by your lack of knowledge.

Also, playing music should be about you, not about "success".


+1.
You are like a hurricane
There's calm in your eye.
And I'm gettin' blown away
To somewhere safer
where the feeling stays.
I want to love you but
I'm getting blown away.
#14
Quote by The_Sophist
If your planning on being a big star, give up and get a real job.

^spoken like a true failure.
Si
#15
Theory isn't required to make a song, but you sure as hell need it to understand it

Generally what everyone else has already said kinda sums it up- you don't need theory, but you will be limited without it- it's extremely useful to have an idea what can go ontop of those powerchords without playing random notes until one fits.
......... because here at mcdonald's our special ingredient is our people...
#16
it depends what kind of music you're talking about trying to make a career out of.

there are plenty of session guitarists (or just working musicians) who know theory backwards, who although you never see them on the cover of guitar magazines, they make successful careers out of just playing music. and these guitarists do everything, rock, blues, jazz, pop, whatever.

at the same time, there are people in successful bands (particularly punk-ish) such as tom delonge who take pride in not knowing theory, and also make careers out of it.

whatever the case, i really have to say having at least a basic concept of music theory is invaluable. in terms of making a career out of playing guitar, it would be so very limited if you had no idea of theory.

so, its your choice, there are quite a few guitarists who have made careers with little understanding of theory. but there are so many more who learnt theory and used it to make them a better guitarist.

your choice.
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what?
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I heard Hitler was a pretty good guitarist back in his day...


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You're a towel.
#17
completely agree with you... Power Chords are all the rage now...

Shut the hell up, I don't know about you, but practically none of the contemporary bands I listen to use powerchords a lot.
Call me Batman.
#18
Quote by The_Sophist
Whatever you do, chances are you wont be successful anyway, so don't worry about it.

blunt yet effective
#19
Quote by J.A.M
Shut the hell up, I don't know about you, but practically none of the contemporary bands I listen to use powerchords a lot.


I have a feeling that he was being sarcastic, but it's also possible that just he's really, really stupid.
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Don't ask me I have no idea how the hell it happened.




To Me:

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I love you
#20
Quote by Minoroffense
So I'm very frustrated with music theory. My question is, do I really need to know this stuff to be a successful musician? Honestly, these days bands just play power chords and theyre famous..Ive never heard of anyone understanding music theory and making it big...can someone enlighten me?


Re: making it big, read munky's post.

However, you will find it a lot easier to be a session musician, composer or teacher if you know wtf you're doing. Hence, learn it. Hell, if it fries your brain, start at the vid in my sig and see if that helps at all.
#21
i wish randy rhoads was still alive so HE could teach me theory... would probly make it alot more interesting than my last teacher did. Im just gonna experiment with what sounds cool from now on... see what my favourite guitarists do and take a few pages out of their books
#22
You don't have to know music theory to make it big as a recording artist. You do need it for almost any other career path in music performance and education, however.
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Hmm judging from your pic you'd fit in more with a fat busted tribute.
#23
Quote by Minoroffense
So I'm very frustrated with music theory. My question is, do I really need to know this stuff to be a successful musician? Honestly, these days bands just play power chords and theyre famous..Ive never heard of anyone understanding music theory and making it big...can someone enlighten me?


are you in it to be famous, or to be a good musician? what are you going to do when you join a huge successful band (yeah right) and the guy says 'ok, it's Gmaj7 - D9, then modulate up a major 3rd for the solo... and give me lots of B dorian'...?

on your way out through the door you can tell him how you didn't bother to learn that stuff because you thought power chords were enough based on what some guy said in a magazine interview

many successful musicians play down their musical knowledge because they like to give off the illusion that their music flows out of them like some magical pixie dust conduit without any effort of work or knowledge... that they're tapping directly into some stream of creative golden nectar.... they want you to think they're some kind of sensitive genius, and they also want you to think that you could almost do it too.... guess what? it's a con... if you're not prepared to work very hard and soak up knowledge wherever you can find it, you'll never make it, and you won't deserve to

at least learn about chords... you don't have to know all this 'augmented super locrian with fries' stuff to play in a rock band, but you have to know about CHORDS.... at least get off your behind and put in THAT much effort
out of here
#24
Quote by 20Tigers
^spoken like a true failure.



I'm sure your secretly Hanna Montana.

BTW, haven't seen you around MT Freepower, but glad you are now.
Last edited by The_Sophist at Aug 24, 2008,
#26
Quote by Minoroffense
So I'm very frustrated with music theory. My question is, do I really need to know this stuff to be a successful musician? Honestly, these days bands just play power chords and theyre famous..Ive never heard of anyone understanding music theory and making it big...can someone enlighten me?

Well forget about music theory go get some makeup and nail polish and start writing 3 power chord pop bull**** with vague generalized lyrics for teenagers. IS that what you really want to do?
#27
Quote by inflatablefilth
many successful musicians play down their musical knowledge because they like to give off the illusion that their music flows out of them like some magical pixie dust conduit without any effort of work or knowledge... that they're tapping directly into some stream of creative golden nectar.... they want you to think they're some kind of sensitive genius, and they also want you to think that you could almost do it too.... guess what? it's a con... if you're not prepared to work very hard and soak up knowledge wherever you can find it, you'll never make it, and you won't deserve to


This is a slightly different topic, but the same central message - one that virtually every successful person I respect has repeated:

'Talent' + Laziness will get you nowhere.

Passion + Work, Work, Work, Work will get you anywhere.


I was reading an interview with Leonard Cohen the other day (I'll try and track it down so you don't have to take my word for it) where he was talking about the length of time it takes him to work. You know the song "Hallelujah"? He worked on that for years. Years:

"That was a song that took me a long time to write. Dylan and I were having coffee the day after his concert in Paris a few years ago and he was doing that song in concert. And he asked me how long it took to write it. And I told him a couple of years. I lied actually. It was more than a couple of years."

In the same interview, he says that he filled two entire notebooks with lyrics for the song "Closing Time" before he was finally happy with the song, and he wrote 60 verses for the song "Democracy" before he was sure he had the right ones (if you read the interview, he shows the interviewer some of the ones he didn't use - they're brilliant).

Here it is, btw:
http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/zollo.html


Another lyricist many people praise is Jim Morrison. A lot of people reckon he just had an innate 'talent' to write awesome, poetic, mystic lyrics. Well, there's a story in a biography of the man that he used to challenge people to pick a book, any book, from the many in his room and read the first line and see if he could name the book. Apparently, he rarely failed. Another story concerns a british singer walking through a hotel reading a book of obscure Victorian poetry. A voice from a seat he walked past said, "I can quote from that book you're reading" and then proceeded to quote an entire passage from memory. Does it sound like Jim Morrison took a vast quantity of LSD one day and woke up the next a lyrical genius? Or does it sound like he was extremely well-read in the fields of literature and poetry and as a natural extension of this knowledge, went on to become a great poet himself?


There's a lot of examples like this - Paul Simon was once eating dinner with a man who was working with Simon on an album. The dinner was something of a peace-mission, as Simon's obsessive perfectionism had started to grate on the other musicians and studio team. At some point in the conversation, explaining his frustration, the man told Simon, "You see, you could happily work on just one song for an entire year" to which Simon, reportably surprised, replied "Yes!" as if it were a given. I don't have a website with the interview or a book to refer you to with that one - head it on the radio - so you're just going to have to trust me on it.


One last point. If you read that Cohen interview (and you should), you'll notice that after Dylan asked Cohen how long it took to write "Hallelujah", Cohen asked Dylan how long it'd taken to write one of Dylan's songs, to which Dylan replied 'fifteen minutes'. How do you think Dylan got to the point where he could do that (or, reportably, writing 'Desolation Row' in the back of a taxi)? Do you think he was born with the ability? Or do you think it was a result of being completely immersed in music and poetry for years?


Anyway, the whole point of this ramble was to stress that when I look at someone successful and then dig a bit deeper into their work, I invariably discover the amount of work they've put into their craft (because of the passion they have for it).

Work work work...
Quote by Ed O'Brien
“It’s not genius. It’s just that if you want something good to come out of something, you have to put in a lot of effort. That involves a lot of hard work, and a lot of blood, sweat and tears sometimes.”

http://urbanscarecrow.bandcamp.com/
#28
Quote by /-\liceNChains
Well forget about music theory go get some makeup and nail polish and start writing 3 power chord pop bull**** with vague generalized lyrics for teenagers. IS that what you really want to do?



I do...
I look good in makeup.
#29
Quote by J.A.M
Shut the hell up, I don't know about you, but practically none of the contemporary bands I listen to use powerchords a lot.

His comment went right over your head. You fail. Lets see if you can detect the sarcasm in this next phrase:
J.A.M is really good at detecting sarcasm.

sarcasm :

Main Entry: sar·casm
Pronunciation: \ˈsär-ˌka-zəm\
Function: noun
Etymology: French or Late Latin; French sarcasme, from Late Latin sarcasmos, from Greek sarkasmos, from sarkazein to tear flesh, bite the lips in rage, sneer, from sark-, sarx flesh; probably akin to Avestan thwarəs- to cut
Date: 1550
1: a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain
2 a: a mode of satirical wit depending for its effect on bitter, caustic, and often ironic language that is usually directed against an individual b: the use or language of sarcasm
#30
Quote by The_Sophist
I'm sure your secretly Hanna Montana.
Hahaha that's some funny ****!!!

Awesome response.
Si
#32
Quote by Damascus
This is a slightly different topic, but the same central message - one that virtually every successful person I respect has repeated:

'Talent' + Laziness will get you nowhere.

Passion + Work, Work, Work, Work will get you anywhere.


I was reading an interview with Leonard Cohen the other day (I'll try and track it down so you don't have to take my word for it) where he was talking about the length of time it takes him to work. You know the song "Hallelujah"? He worked on that for years. Years:

"That was a song that took me a long time to write. Dylan and I were having coffee the day after his concert in Paris a few years ago and he was doing that song in concert. And he asked me how long it took to write it. And I told him a couple of years. I lied actually. It was more than a couple of years."

In the same interview, he says that he filled two entire notebooks with lyrics for the song "Closing Time" before he was finally happy with the song, and he wrote 60 verses for the song "Democracy" before he was sure he had the right ones (if you read the interview, he shows the interviewer some of the ones he didn't use - they're brilliant).

Here it is, btw:
http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/zollo.html


Another lyricist many people praise is Jim Morrison. A lot of people reckon he just had an innate 'talent' to write awesome, poetic, mystic lyrics. Well, there's a story in a biography of the man that he used to challenge people to pick a book, any book, from the many in his room and read the first line and see if he could name the book. Apparently, he rarely failed. Another story concerns a british singer walking through a hotel reading a book of obscure Victorian poetry. A voice from a seat he walked past said, "I can quote from that book you're reading" and then proceeded to quote an entire passage from memory. Does it sound like Jim Morrison took a vast quantity of LSD one day and woke up the next a lyrical genius? Or does it sound like he was extremely well-read in the fields of literature and poetry and as a natural extension of this knowledge, went on to become a great poet himself?


There's a lot of examples like this - Paul Simon was once eating dinner with a man who was working with Simon on an album. The dinner was something of a peace-mission, as Simon's obsessive perfectionism had started to grate on the other musicians and studio team. At some point in the conversation, explaining his frustration, the man told Simon, "You see, you could happily work on just one song for an entire year" to which Simon, reportably surprised, replied "Yes!" as if it were a given. I don't have a website with the interview or a book to refer you to with that one - head it on the radio - so you're just going to have to trust me on it.


One last point. If you read that Cohen interview (and you should), you'll notice that after Dylan asked Cohen how long it took to write "Hallelujah", Cohen asked Dylan how long it'd taken to write one of Dylan's songs, to which Dylan replied 'fifteen minutes'. How do you think Dylan got to the point where he could do that (or, reportably, writing 'Desolation Row' in the back of a taxi)? Do you think he was born with the ability? Or do you think it was a result of being completely immersed in music and poetry for years?


Anyway, the whole point of this ramble was to stress that when I look at someone successful and then dig a bit deeper into their work, I invariably discover the amount of work they've put into their craft (because of the passion they have for it).

Work work work...


QFT.
#33
Quote by Minoroffense
So I'm very frustrated with music theory. My question is, do I really need to know this stuff to be a successful musician? Honestly, these days bands just play power chords and theyre famous..Ive never heard of anyone understanding music theory and making it big...can someone enlighten me?
You know, if you just see the 4/4 powerchord progression in a song and instantly dismiss it, than no wonder your frustrated with theory.

Behind the superficial coating of the boring 4/4 powerchord progression is a drum beat, usually a VERY unique melody, pretty lyrics, a singer that can control his or her voice (this is about 80% of the general population) and a good recording studio/set-up.

These guys arent just famous because they're attractive, they're famous because whoever writes their music is a genious and whoever pays for their equipment is rich.
#34
Quote by Damascus
This is a slightly different topic, but the same central message - one that virtually every successful person I respect has repeated:

'Talent' + Laziness will get you nowhere.

Passion + Work, Work, Work, Work will get you anywhere.


I was reading an interview with Leonard Cohen the other day (I'll try and track it down so you don't have to take my word for it) where he was talking about the length of time it takes him to work. You know the song "Hallelujah"? He worked on that for years. Years:

"That was a song that took me a long time to write. Dylan and I were having coffee the day after his concert in Paris a few years ago and he was doing that song in concert. And he asked me how long it took to write it. And I told him a couple of years. I lied actually. It was more than a couple of years."

In the same interview, he says that he filled two entire notebooks with lyrics for the song "Closing Time" before he was finally happy with the song, and he wrote 60 verses for the song "Democracy" before he was sure he had the right ones (if you read the interview, he shows the interviewer some of the ones he didn't use - they're brilliant).

Here it is, btw:
http://www.leonardcohenfiles.com/zollo.html


Another lyricist many people praise is Jim Morrison. A lot of people reckon he just had an innate 'talent' to write awesome, poetic, mystic lyrics. Well, there's a story in a biography of the man that he used to challenge people to pick a book, any book, from the many in his room and read the first line and see if he could name the book. Apparently, he rarely failed. Another story concerns a british singer walking through a hotel reading a book of obscure Victorian poetry. A voice from a seat he walked past said, "I can quote from that book you're reading" and then proceeded to quote an entire passage from memory. Does it sound like Jim Morrison took a vast quantity of LSD one day and woke up the next a lyrical genius? Or does it sound like he was extremely well-read in the fields of literature and poetry and as a natural extension of this knowledge, went on to become a great poet himself?


There's a lot of examples like this - Paul Simon was once eating dinner with a man who was working with Simon on an album. The dinner was something of a peace-mission, as Simon's obsessive perfectionism had started to grate on the other musicians and studio team. At some point in the conversation, explaining his frustration, the man told Simon, "You see, you could happily work on just one song for an entire year" to which Simon, reportably surprised, replied "Yes!" as if it were a given. I don't have a website with the interview or a book to refer you to with that one - head it on the radio - so you're just going to have to trust me on it.


One last point. If you read that Cohen interview (and you should), you'll notice that after Dylan asked Cohen how long it took to write "Hallelujah", Cohen asked Dylan how long it'd taken to write one of Dylan's songs, to which Dylan replied 'fifteen minutes'. How do you think Dylan got to the point where he could do that (or, reportably, writing 'Desolation Row' in the back of a taxi)? Do you think he was born with the ability? Or do you think it was a result of being completely immersed in music and poetry for years?


Anyway, the whole point of this ramble was to stress that when I look at someone successful and then dig a bit deeper into their work, I invariably discover the amount of work they've put into their craft (because of the passion they have for it).

Work work work...


#35
Quote by 20Tigers
Hahaha that's some funny ****!!!

Awesome response.



I love you to 20Tigers
#36
a lot of people get famous from just doing random power chords and some whiny ass vocals, but you should still try to learn theory. it makes it a lot easy to write a good overall song.
"Bitches ain't shit but hoes and tricks."
- Dr. Dre
#37
Damascus, I'm not going to take up more thread space by quoting your whole post, but that was truly interesting. Thanks. Good link BTW.
#38
Quote by demonofthenight
Behind the superficial coating of the boring 4/4 powerchord progression is a drum beat, usually a VERY unique melody, pretty lyrics, a singer that can control his or her voice (this is about 80% of the general population) and a good recording studio/set-up.


"4/4 powerchord progression"? What are you talking about?

Usually when you talk about chord progressions you speak in roman numerals, not time signatures.

I'm guessing you're talking about a chord progression where the guitarist is using power chords, played in 4/4 time.

Seems like you're mixing up a lot of concepts in that one little phrase though.
#39
Quote by one vision
Music theory opens up new doors for you, and allows you to communicate your musical ideas with other musicians.


This is the best answer.