#1
I've been wondering this for a long time, which do I need more theory or technique? I always feel inadequate when I'm around people that know mad about theory. I mean my technique is fine and probably better than most because I've been playing about 6 years now and I sit down and practice different little odds and ends all day. But there's a point where its just hard to go much further. and no music theory does not come naturally to me at all.. what do I do?


-don kappyton
#2
Music is hard dude. You can get a Masters degree (and maybe even a Doctorate in some places) in it. Don't try to master it in one day.
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#3
practice your technique with music theory...

play scales but understand what chords can be shaped with the scale that you are playing in.
#4
IMO both are important, but if you have to pick one, theory. Being able to play things fast and accurate is useless if you don't know what to play.
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Theory is descriptive, not prescriptive.


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theory states 1+1=2 sometimes in music 1+1=3.
#5
Quote by don kappyton
I've been wondering this for a long time, which do I need more theory or technique? I always feel inadequate when I'm around people that know mad about theory. I mean my technique is fine and probably better than most because I've been playing about 6 years now and I sit down and practice different little odds and ends all day. But there's a point where its just hard to go much further. and no music theory does not come naturally to me at all.. what do I do?


-don kappyton


You shouldn't see one as more important than the other. If you play music on an instrument, you're going to use some sort of technique. If you want to understand music, you study theory. If you want to enjoy music, all you have to do is listen. (and I would rate that as much higher on the importance list then technique or theory).
shred is gaudy music
#6
knowing at least a little bit of music theory was never bad. but knowing it too much may become a pretty serious barrier, cuz then you start to THINK too much about what is wrong and what is actually right. it's like no freedom for making music, but only following the stupid rules. it's very hard to play in a band with such people.
#7
Quote by Alex_Lynch
knowing at least a little bit of music theory was never bad. but knowing it too much may become a pretty serious barrier, cuz then you start to THINK too much about what is wrong and what is actually right. it's like no freedom for making music, but only following the stupid rules. it's very hard to play in a band with such people.


Ignore this^
That's ridiculous. Theory is a descriptive system. If you find that it's ruining your creativity, it's because you were a bad musician to begin with.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#8
If you want to enjoy music, all you have to do is listen. (and I would rate that as much higher on the importance list then technique or theory).


Great advice GuitarMunky.

Theory can help explain why certain sounds work well together (which is basically what theory does) and can help you put that into action on your guitar. But some of the greatest players know not very much about theory, but have a great vibe, a keen ear and good musical intuition, the main ingredients in any good musician. Theory isn't for everyone. I know some fantastic theory teachers who are really lacklustre players. It's swings & roundabouts.
#9
Quote by Alex_Lynch
knowing at least a little bit of music theory was never bad. but knowing it too much may become a pretty serious barrier, cuz then you start to THINK too much about what is wrong and what is actually right. it's like no freedom for making music, but only following the stupid rules. it's very hard to play in a band with such people.


-1
#10
Quote by Alex_Lynch
knowing at least a little bit of music theory was never bad. but knowing it too much may become a pretty serious barrier, cuz then you start to THINK too much about what is wrong and what is actually right. it's like no freedom for making music, but only following the stupid rules. it's very hard to play in a band with such people.


Wait. Think about what he's really saying here. To me, what he's really saying is "overthinking it too much is bad".

That's a good point. Though I think it's wrong to blame it on having too much theory. There are many ways to inhibit yourself by overthinking things. Not realizing that theory is a way of understanding of music and instead thinking it is a series of rules you must follow is definately one way. Getting so hung up on technique that you forget about playing music is another. Getting too caught up with being competitive with yourself and others is yet another. But these are all symptoms, in the end the overthinking comes from within yourself, and you must avoid that like the plague.

Anyway, back to the original post. The answer is both. Having a decent grasp of theory will totally enrich your musical universe. But you need the technique to execute your ideas.
#11
Quote by se012101
Wait. Think about what he's really saying here. To me, what he's really saying is "overthinking it too much is bad".

That's a good point. Though I think it's wrong to blame it on having too much theory. There are many ways to inhibit yourself by overthinking things. Not realizing that theory is a way of understanding of music and instead thinking it is a series of rules you must follow is definately one way. Getting so hung up on technique that you forget about playing music is another. Getting too caught up with being competitive with yourself and others is yet another. But these are all symptoms, in the end the overthinking comes from within yourself, and you must avoid that like the plague.


exactly, it was a good point and people often do have those issues at a certain stage of learning theory (usually when they 1st get into it, and misunderstand theory as being a set of rules)

your right though, its more about how you look at it, then theory itself. Knowledge is never a bad thing.

Quote by se012101

Getting so hung up on technique that you forget about playing music is another.


exactly. another problem of a the same nature there.

I think it happens when people worry too much about being "good", and doing what's "correct", rather than making music. To me the music comes 1st. Then what you learn: technique, theory, or otherwise will enhance what you can do musically.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Sep 14, 2008,
#12
Quote by se012101
Wait. Think about what he's really saying here. To me, what he's really saying is "overthinking it too much is bad"


yup, that's actually what i was trying to say but you used the other words to describe it
but what i wanna add is that too much "overthinking" and puzzling the music may worsen it, and this is where a simplier play is much better
Last edited by Alex_Lynch at Sep 14, 2008,
#14
Wait. Think about what he's really saying here. To me, what he's really saying is "overthinking it too much is bad".


If he meant that, he should have said that. Music theory exists to allow musicians to communicate and describe ideas. If you begin studying theory and find that your songwriting suffers, it's because you just aren't good enough at it to integrate this new knowledge. Educating yourself can only help you.

I also disagree with this notion of "thinking too much". Not all of us play generic Em blues in 4/4 time. Complex music is hard to write. It requires a lot of thought, and it requires a lot of knowledge. Knowing how musical concepts work and interact is essential.
Someones knowledge of guitar companies spelling determines what amps you can own. Really smart people can own things like Framus because they sound like they might be spelled with a "y" but they aren't.
#15
Quote by Archeo Avis
If he meant that, he should have said that. Music theory exists to allow musicians to communicate and describe ideas. If you begin studying theory and find that your songwriting suffers, it's because you just aren't good enough at it to integrate this new knowledge.


in some cases sure, but it is entirely possible to get so caught up in the theory as to lose focus on the music itself. His point was valid.

Quote by Archeo Avis

I also disagree with this notion of "thinking too much". Not all of us play generic Em blues in 4/4 time. Complex music is hard to write. It requires a lot of thought, and it requires a lot of knowledge. Knowing how musical concepts work and interact is essential.


getting a grasp on music, even "generic em blues" takes thought, but that doesn't mean that some people don't have a problem with "thinking too much". I've heard many musicians.......really good musicians, describe that as being a problem at some point.


Anyway, I won't say how you should or shouldn't approach your music, but I can tell you from experience that Alex's point was as valid as any other posted here.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Sep 14, 2008,
#16
Whenever you hit a dead end, don't turn around and try doing it again. Just pick a style you've never tried before, this may be poplike music, jazzy, funk, flamenco, classical, metal, whatever you feel like at the moment but you have to lose all your ussual patterns so you can start with a blank sheet every time you start playing. Just try to forget all your practices, let the technique remain and see what comes up. It always works, but it'll take a while. A dead end always means a need for a change of subject imo, try a different style.
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#17
The two are not opposing, nor the same, however. You say one or the other, but in truth they complement each other. Also, whats the point of learning theory but only pissing around on a guitar, or playing some crazy stuff while knowing jack all about what you're playing?

We can all whilttle our days away trying to prove how important theory is, but if you cant translate it onto a guitar, with style maybe, you're slacking.
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#18
Quote by Alex_Lynch
knowing at least a little bit of music theory was never bad. but knowing it too much may become a pretty serious barrier, cuz then you start to THINK too much about what is wrong and what is actually right. it's like no freedom for making music, but only following the stupid rules. it's very hard to play in a band with such people.


yea, I get what your saying, when I write music I like to just let it flow and just get into the music. but music theory I think would help my writing rather then the opposite.
#19
thats weird cuz i always thought that theory and technique were like reading and writing, you have to know both to know one, or something like that...
#20
^ not really, theory describes why music sounds the way it does. technique is used to actually play music. it's night and day. i think a good balance of the 2 is wonderful, however i'm of the avid belief of the "learn it then forget it" method of theory. learn as much as you can, but don't rely solely on theory when writing music. archeo's surely going to disagree with me here but i think most musicians would probably agree with this to a degree.
#21
Quote by z4twenny
but don't rely solely on theory when writing music. archeo's surely going to disagree with me here
That's because theory describes what has been played. It doesn't dictate what will be played.