#1
I would like to start learning music theory to help improve my knowledge and understanding, however i'm a little bemused at where to begin.

Is there a certain topic i should tackle first?

Any suggestions, or links to guides/books or any such information is much appreciated.

Thanks.
#3
Try the Crusade articles by Josh Urban in the columns section...first thing to learn is the notes on the fretboard though.
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#4
Quote by Thy Woodzy

Any suggestions...

Other than "It looks a lot more scary than it actually is, so don't be put off", no.

Okay, I've barely scratched the surface, but as far as I can see, it's a mixture of some very, very basic maths, and some arbitrary patterns (because they sound good...), made to look overly complex by swapping the numbers for a mixture of letters and symbols you (mostly) won't find on a keyboard, and an overwhelming urge to use Italian regardless of whether the reader speaks it, or the writer writes it.

Oh, yeah, there is one suggestion...

Get lots of A4, a ruler, a pen, and keep it handy. Whenever you don't understand something, write the staff \ tab \ scale \ whatever out for yourself. Okay, you still might not understand it properly, but if you repeat the process enough, it'll sink in.

That said, my theory's lousy. Getting better though.
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#5
Quote by CarpUK
Other than "It looks a lot more scary than it actually is, so don't be put off", no.

Okay, I've barely scratched the surface, but as far as I can see, it's a mixture of some very, very basic maths, and some arbitrary patterns (because they sound good...), made to look overly complex by swapping the numbers for a mixture of letters and symbols you (mostly) won't find on a keyboard, and an overwhelming urge to use Italian regardless of whether the reader speaks it, or the writer writes it.

That said, my theory's lousy. Getting better though.



In other words it's standardised. Which means music has it's own language. Instead of saying something like A to B is 2 notes apart, you would say its a Tone or wholestep apart.

But you make it seem way more complicated then it is.
Last edited by Ze_Metal at Sep 19, 2008,
#6
Quote by steven seagull
Try the Crusade articles by Josh Urban in the columns section...first thing to learn is the notes on the fretboard though.

QFT.

Once you learn the notes on your fretboard and note intervals, The Crusade series of articles is a great starting off point to get into the "meat" of theory. It's well presented and easy to understand, and gives you most of the information you'll need. I reccomend spending at least a week on each one to let it sink in.

As far as intervals, they go in a pattern of W H W W H W W, where the W is a whole step (2 frets), and a H is a half-step (1 fret). Musical notes are a 7 letter repeating alphabet; A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. Once you reach the end of the alphabet, it goes back to A which is the same note one octave (tone) higher then the first.

The easiest way to remember it that I've found is that the only half-steps are between B - C and E - F. So if you start on the open A string, your second fret (1 whole step) would be B, your third fret (half step) would be C, and so on. Using that formula you can start learning all your notes by remembering intervals and the 7-letter alphabet. Once you have those down, then it's time to dig into scales and chord construction and such.
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Last edited by Garou1911 at Sep 18, 2008,
#7
Quote by Ze_Metal
In other words it's standardized. Which means music has it's own language. Instead of saying something like A to B is 2 notes apart, you would say its a Tone or wholestep apart.

But you make it seem way more complicated then it is.

Yes, it's standardised, but it's a very arbitrary standard indeed. Take the chromatic scale, for instance. There are two "missing" accidentals. Why? There just.. are. Your example is rather interesting as while A and B are a tone \ whole step \ two half steps \ (for us) two frets apart, B and C aren't. Personally, I find this to be extremely arbitrary.

In essence, it's like learning the names, sequence and duration of the days of the week, and months of the year when you're a lil' kid. There are seven days in a week, because there are, there are thirty days in September, because there are. These are entirely arbitrary constructs*, knowlege of which you cannot derive purely from experience, you simply need to learn them. They are also (relatively) standardised, but that standard is also purely arbitrary.

I'll happily take the point that rhythm notation and time sigs are standardised and not arbitrary, as there's absolutely nothing in that area that leaves you thinking "why isn't there one of them?", in the same way as the absence of B# does with the chromatic scale. However, when it comes to the rest of it, it really is a case of "we do it this way in the West because hundreds of years of experience have told us it, well, just sounds kinda good".

Or, from the other angle, if it's not arbitrary, does that mean Indian musicians are fundamentally wrong for using quarter tones?


* Days of the year is a different matter, thanks to the solar system. That said, us having to fiddle with February every four years to deal with it isn't.
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#8
... continued ...

Having said all that, I am in no way attempting to belittle music theory. The way I see it, if you don't at least give the basics a shot, you're limiting yourself to "find tab, learn tab, play tab, repeat", unless you've got the whole learn n' play by ear thing going (which I suspect 99.9% of the world don't have).

The point I was trying to make originally is that, as a subject area, it's absolutely loaded to the brim with elements which are absolutely nothing more, and absolutely nothing less, than arbitrary numeric sequences. Yes, they're denoted by a mixture of letters and squiggles, but as long as you're able to count to twelve, then memorise a few sequences of numbers, you can very quickly get a handle on the basics.
Oh, now I've gone and spilled my tea. This really won't do at all.
#10
Quote by CarpUK
Yes, it's standardised, but it's a very arbitrary standard indeed. Take the chromatic scale, for instance. There are two "missing" accidentals. Why? There just.. are. Your example is rather interesting as while A and B are a tone \ whole step \ two half steps \ (for us) two frets apart, B and C aren't. Personally, I find this to be extremely arbitrary.

In essence, it's like learning the names, sequence and duration of the days of the week, and months of the year when you're a lil' kid. There are seven days in a week, because there are, there are thirty days in September, because there are. These are entirely arbitrary constructs*, knowlege of which you cannot derive purely from experience, you simply need to learn them. They are also (relatively) standardised, but that standard is also purely arbitrary.

I'll happily take the point that rhythm notation and time sigs are standardised and not arbitrary, as there's absolutely nothing in that area that leaves you thinking "why isn't there one of them?", in the same way as the absence of B# does with the chromatic scale. However, when it comes to the rest of it, it really is a case of "we do it this way in the West because hundreds of years of experience have told us it, well, just sounds kinda good".

Or, from the other angle, if it's not arbitrary, does that mean Indian musicians are fundamentally wrong for using quarter tones?


* Days of the year is a different matter, thanks to the solar system. That said, us having to fiddle with February every four years to deal with it isn't.


True. I heard the reason western music doesn't have microtonalitly is because of what you said, we just aren't used to it. That's why when we listen to eastern music it sounds wrong to us.