Poll: Knowing Music Thoery Stifle Your Creativity?
Poll Options
View poll results: Knowing Music Thoery Stifle Your Creativity?
Yes, it makes it harder for me to be spontaenous creative
13 12%
No, music flows through me just the same
99 88%
Voters: 112.
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#1
I've noticed that after learning Music Theory that my creative thoughts isn't as fluid as it was before hand. I think I spend more time trying to figure out what would fit mechanically into a song rather than just to let it be. You guys have the same problem?
#2
No

The only limit to your creativity is your inexperience. Song writing is a skill which builds up, not an inherit ability.
#3
Yeh, I hate over-analyzed music, I think music should come to you spontaneously and naturally, obviously a degree of theory is necessary but it can get very nerdy.
#4
As I'm reading it, you're using theory as a crutch as compared to a tool. Theory isn't something that MUST be present, all the time, but more something that you can use when you want to; if you find something that doesn't obey your knowledge of theory then put it in anyway, provided that it sounds good.

Personally, I think theory should be the basis of a song (the emphasised chords, etc) as compared to the bulk of it. The majority of the song (for me) is experimentation while bearing in mind the theory in the background of it.

I might be barking up the wrong tree here, but I tried...
#5
No, I've always imagined the music in my head first. Then I try work it out, which theory sometimes helps to do. Other times it doesn't and I end up with something completely different but. =\
#6
No, I was writting songs and being creative before I started learning music theory

music theory just helps me understand what im doing, and give you a better idea as to whats going to sound good.

if anything theory can expand your creativity just because you're so much more knowledgable of the guitar and how it works

theory isnt something you can use or not use, its always there. Its simply understanding how the song works.
Last edited by Peaceful Rocker at Oct 10, 2008,
#7
Not a bit. Whenever I can't feel something melodic, I use theory as a solution.
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#8
It's a phase, you'll get over it, and be thankful you made the effort later on.
#9
Poll option 3: Neither.

Music theory has helped me, a LOT.
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#10
stifled creativity is a creativity issue, not a knowledge issue.
shred is gaudy music
#11
Stifled creativity is the result of assuming that music theory is a set of rules, which it's not. It's a way of explaining musical ideas. Any melody or chord progression can be explained using theory, you just have to know a lot of it in order to do so.

Before I knew modes, I would play something which I now know is mixolydian, and think "that's major, but why does it sound jazzy, I know I've heard it before, but what is it?". Then I learned the modes.

So yeah...

No.
#12
Quote by one vision
Stifled creativity is the result of assuming that music theory is a set of rules, which it's not. It's a way of explaining musical ideas. Any melody or chord progression can be explained using theory, you just have to know a lot of it in order to do so.

Before I knew modes, I would play something which I now know is mixolydian, and think "that's major, but why does it sound jazzy, I know I've heard it before, but what is it?". Then I learned the modes.

So yeah...

No.


+1

Quote by MopMaster
As I'm reading it, you're using theory as a crutch as compared to a tool. Theory isn't something that MUST be present, all the time,

theory IS present at all times. i can take anything you write and break it down theoretically.

Quote by MopMaster
but more something that you can use when you want to; if you find something that doesn't obey your knowledge of theory then put it in anyway, provided that it sounds good.

a limited knowledge of theory doesn't mean there isn't an explanation to it. see above, theory is present at all points in music.
Quote by MopMaster

Personally, I think theory should be the basis of a song (the emphasised chords, etc) as compared to the bulk of it. The majority of the song (for me) is experimentation while bearing in mind the theory in the background of it.

I might be barking up the wrong tree here, but I tried...


yeah, you kinda are. you seem to be missing the point of theory. its not a set of rules that says "you have to do this and this and this" its a set of descriptive tools that you can use to communicate musical ideas with other musicians. when you get into species counterpoint there are sets of rules, but even then if you break those rules bach isn't going to rise from the dead and hunt you down and eat your soul...... or is he?.......
Last edited by z4twenny at Oct 10, 2008,
#13
Clapton is god.
Don't tell me what can not be done

Don't tell me what can be done, either.



I love you all no matter what.
#14
if your having problems with relating theory to your songs, maybe you never practiced theory hands on. theory is just supposed to help you create songs, its not JUST about understanding why things happen the way they do.
#15
Quote by LawnDwarf
if your having problems with relating theory to your songs, maybe you never practiced theory hands on. theory is just supposed to help you create songs, its not JUST about understanding why things happen the way they do.


ok, i don't believe this is entirely accurate. it CAN be used to help you create songs, this is done by understanding WHY THINGS HAPPEN THE WAY THEY DO. you can use a VI-i movement in a song, theory tells you WHY this sounds good (harmonically stable)
#16
Quote by z4twenny
you can use a VI-i movement in a song
You meant V-i or V7-i movement, yes? F to Am doesn't yield quite the resolved sound as E7 to Am.
#17
"Theory" belongs to chops, which also includes physical technique and a few other smaller considerations. Chops are things that a monkey could learn (or a computer, but monkeys are cooler) if it put the time in. Chops are only necessary to allow you to say clearly what you're saying on your instrument. More is unnecessary, less holds you back.

Theory is applicable to the past of music: It results from the study of music already made and trends that appear to control that. So even in its highest study, theory used alone and followed blind is mere imitation of what came before. No one actually follows theory this closely and unquestioningly (I hope) but some follow closer than others. It is fear of this that leads some to reject theory altogether.

Looking at great artists (I have Picasso in mind here, but it applies to most if not all) note that they had a strong grasp of traditional values and techniques; which they became dissatisfied with and defied. Traditions are hugely important: without them you are starting from nothing, and with the vain hope of advancing an art even one step and adding something to its vocabulary you at least want even ground to begin.

A problem, though, is that once we borrow lenses from the past to look through they can become very difficult to remove. There is a special joy in the untrained music of a child that is always lost upon training and maturity.

The other main problem with the study of tradition is that many today fail to study it comprehensively: they largely ignore the aural tradition. While its importance varies from style to style, there are things to be learned from the active listening of (preferably live) masters that cannot be gotten from silent book-study. What "swing" really means. How a crying instrument actually sounds. How important articulation actually is and how to do it. and so on.

So I think it would be foolish to ignore any source of perspective on your art. Any at all. Just remember, everything is just that: one way of looking at things. There are others to be learned, others yet to be made. But a perspective will only limit you if you refuse to look outside it.

nb: although the point of my words should make it clear these are my opinions feel free to dispute but not to condescendingly dismiss. That takes and accomplishes nothing. Dialect helps us all here.
#19
Quote by bangoodcharlote
You meant V-i or V7-i movement, yes? F to Am doesn't yield quite the resolved sound as E7 to Am.

no, i meant VI-i. i was thinking more over C -> Em. it sounds resolved to me, mainly because the movement is (albeit inverted) just a one note change from C->B, E and G stay the same. it always sounded very strong to me.
#21
z4twenny, while you're 100% correct in everything you said, I think you entirely missed the point.

Theory may always be present, but it's not about that. It's about whether a person writing a song is actively and purposely using it, or simply is writing a song without any knowledge of what they're doing.

I'd say it depends on how much theory you know, and whether you allow yourself to go outside that knowledge. For example, if a person is trying to write a song actively using theory and all they know is their basic circle of 5ths/key/chord stuff, then they'll be severely limiting their creativity. Most people who don't have advanced knowledge of theory have problems in this area when they start to learn theory, as they allow their lack of knowledge to limit their creativity, thinking that they must follow the rules of what they know, not knowing or understanding that there is so much beyond it.

So, I say yes theory can stifle creativity if you allow your lack of knowledge to stop you from doing something you can't explain.

I've said the same thing to many people learning theory. If it sounds good, that's all that matters even if you don't know or can't explain why.
#22
Quote by nightwind
Clapton is god.





As for the discussion, Munky's already handled it.
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#23
Quote by z4twenny
no, i meant VI-i. i was thinking more over C -> Em. it sounds resolved to me, mainly because the movement is (albeit inverted) just a one note change from C->B, E and G stay the same. it always sounded very strong to me.


Funny you should mention that. I was just messing around with the reverse of this today. Cm -> Eb

Also has a strong resolve, to me
#25
Music theory teaches you how to express yourself, just like learning a language, everyone understands, but only musicians speak. You can understand people when they play (talk), theory is like learning the language.
Quote by Zaphod_Beeblebr
Theory is descriptive, not prescriptive.


Quote by MiKe Hendryckz
theory states 1+1=2 sometimes in music 1+1=3.
#26
When I first learned about a little bit of theory-related stuff, I thought of it as a bunch of rules you had to follow when writing a song. That's not what it is. Music theory is more than staying in key. It involves music analysis, it's not necessarily a formula for writing music. You can follow the conventions of western music, deliberately break them, or completely ignore them.
#27
Quote by rollininrhythm
People who say theory hurts your creativity are just to lazy/scared to learn theory.

I spent a few years learning a lot of theory and about playing jazz guitar, I definitely put in the effort and learned plenty but since I started writing music I've found theory to be totally redundant. If you start bothering to anyalyse what you're writing from a theory point of view it just slows you down. For me trying to "use" theory, whatever that means, definitely stifles creativity.
I write post hardcore and alternative shit though. I guess if you wanna write some mega-formulaic classical shit, theory is your friend probably.
ρ
#29
Quote by lewis_grey
Yeh, I hate over-analyzed music, I think music should come to you spontaneously and naturally, obviously a degree of theory is necessary but it can get very nerdy.


Music Theory=Nerdy?? How? I'M NOT A NERD

Anyway, I don't use theory that much when writing anyway unless I'm stuck, I always play what I hear in my head. Sometimes what comes out is very theoretically complex though, but I wan't thinking about it that way. I love learning theory and it helps me alot when writing arrangements but I play by what I hear in my head.

Theory only stifles your creativity if instead of saying-
'I'm going to sit down and write a song about the way I'm feeling'
you say-
'I'm going to sit down and write a song in A phrygian dominant with *insert advanced theoretical principles here*.'
The second approach means you're writing a bit more from your mind then your heart, I guess. Both approaches can work though, theres no wrong way.
#30
Was it Joe Satriani who said "learn all the music theory out there and then forget it."

Theory definitely helps you to become a better musician. All the great composers studied theory inside out.
But what made composers outstanding is not being bound by theory. Composers like Stravinsky who gave a "**** you" to theory and created truly remarkable compositions breaking out of the bounds of theory.

Let theory help you. It sure will and it'll help a lot. But don't let it bound you.
Theory gives you a good understanding of music and what its all about. And once you get that understanding, a true musician is able to take it into any direction he wants. Just like painting on a canvas. You know what color represents what and how the colors should be mixed to create the right shades but after that you're free to create what ever you wanna paint on that canvas.

Another thing i really don't like is when people come up and say electronic music is not proper music cuz its not human and you're using computers to create the music, its artificial, its digital and all that crap. Another group of people i like to give a big "**** you" to.
#31
Quote by af_the_fragile
Was it Joe Satriani who said "learn all the music theory out there and then forget it."

Theory definitely helps you to become a better musician. All the great composers studied theory inside out.
But what made composers outstanding is not being bound by theory. Composers like Stravinsky who gave a "**** you" to theory and created truly remarkable compositions breaking out of the bounds of theory.

I think you might be using the word theory when you mean convention.

It's impossible to "break out of the bounds of theory". Firstly theory isn't a set of rules so there are no rules to break. Secondly, anything you write using the western tone system can be described using theory, so all western composers' pieces could be described using theory.

It is entirely possible to break the musical conventions of the time and this is exactly what many great composers did (which caused a lot of the the progression of western music).
#32
If you feel that music theory limits you, you clearly don't have enough knowledge of it. Learn more.
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#33
Absolutely not. This very idea is a demon posessed messenger of Satan. I am very embarrassed for anyone who feels this way and speeks openly of it.
#34
Quote by 12345abcd3
I think you might be using the word theory when you mean convention.

It's impossible to "break out of the bounds of theory". Firstly theory isn't a set of rules so there are no rules to break. Secondly, anything you write using the western tone system can be described using theory, so all western composers' pieces could be described using theory.

It is entirely possible to break the musical conventions of the time and this is exactly what many great composers did (which caused a lot of the the progression of western music).

Well, i guess convention is the better word.
Like composers like Starvinsky decided not to stick within the elements of specific keys while composing their music. They broke out of that and worked on using dischords and dissonance to create new sound textures not herd before.

And like if you take it from the logic that everything you compose within the western music system can be described using theory, then well, everytime you compose a piece of music, you're using music theory (knowing or unknowingly) to compose it.
There is no possible way the knowledge of music theory can hold you back with your creativity. Instead i believe it helps you getting out of creative blocks. Like somewhere you're stuck with you composition, you can use your theory knowledge to move forward with it...
#36
Quote by af_the_fragile

And like if you take it from the logic that everything you compose within the western music system can be described using theory, then well, everytime you compose a piece of music, you're using music theory (knowing or unknowingly) to compose it.
There is no possible way the knowledge of music theory can hold you back with your creativity. Instead i believe it helps you getting out of creative blocks. Like somewhere you're stuck with you composition, you can use your theory knowledge to move forward with it...

+infinityandone
#37
Can we ban these threads? We've had enough of them.
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.
#39
Quote by jsantos
I've noticed that after learning Music Theory that my creative thoughts isn't as fluid as it was before hand. I think I spend more time trying to figure out what would fit mechanically into a song rather than just to let it be. You guys have the same problem?


dude, (dunno if this has been said before), but your creativity has pulled some breaks while you were learning theory, because of, exactly, being LEARNING theory. you've been concentrating more on learning something new than creating something new. it's absolutely normal to not be as fluent as you'd wish while you're in the process of learning it.
but note: it's only temporary. and the faster you train your theory, the faster you'll be over that barrier.
#40
If you're thinking about your music theory while you are playing, then you haven't learned music theory enough, keep on studying.

Do you think about nouns, verbs, dangling participles, adverbs, predicate adjectives and all the other English Language theory while you are talking?

Same goes for music theory. When you know it to the point where you don't have to think about it anymore, it becomes a great asset to your music making experience.

IMO every musician (that includes vocalists) should know music theory including how to read music (sans tabs). If you don't you will not reach your fullest potential as a musician. Period.

And this has to be learned until it is internalized as much as English grammar and syntax are internalized in your speech and typing. True, at first it might seem to stifle you a bit, but you will be taking one step back to recoil for an eventual great leap forward.

Simply put, you cannot know too much about music.

There is no such thing as an over-trained musician. There are some under-talented musicians who "sound" over-trained, but they wouldn't have sounded good without the training either.

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