Technique Vs. Musical Feeling - The Truth

In order to allow your musical feeling to emerge and give life to the notes you play, you must have the technique required to produce those notes in the first place. "Technique" is the conduit through which musical feeling flows.

Technique Vs. Musical Feeling - The Truth
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In order to allow your musical feeling to emerge and give life to the notes you play, you must have the technique required to produce those notes in the first place. "Technique" is the conduit through which musical feeling flows. People are often surprised when they learn that I have continued to practice and improve pieces of music that I have played for decades, including pieces I have often performed or recorded. "Don't you know it by now!?", they say! Apparently, they are not aware of the dictum I have laid down in "The Principles Of Correct Practice For Guitar" for students to follow if they wish to continue to improve and expand their abilities on guitar, and realize their highest potential as guitarists. It is this: always tell yourself "I don't know how to play the guitar". After 40 years of playing, I tell myself every day "I don't know how to play the guitar". Why do I tell myself this? Do I just like to remind myself what a slow learner I am? No, not really, although I know I have had to work a lot harder to get what others found easy. I tell myself "I don't know how to play the guitar" so that my mind will constantly be open to new ideas and new intuitions about ways to improve my playing. I tell myself this so that I will not become complacent and stale in my ways of thinking and doing things. I tell myself this so that I will never fall into the common rut of operating from assumptions that have never been reexamined, and have actually outlived their usefulness. Because I tell myself this (and thus keep "Beginners Mind"), I now play light years better than I did at any time in my past. This is why I counsel my students to think in this way, so that they can be the guitar player they are really capable of being.

What Is "Getting Better" And Do I Have To?

Now, someone may say, "well, do I have to keep getting better, can't I just stop getting better and enjoy myself? Anyway, what does" getting better mean?" Those are fair questions. First of all, of course it is okay if you say "I don't want to get any better, I am happy where I am and I just want to play my guitar". That is fine. It is not fine for me, but it may be fine for you. I enjoy getting better and better on guitar, and I have discovered the interesting fact that the better I get at playing guitar, the more I enjoy playing guitar! And since I like to have as much fun as possible in my life, I keep working at getting better on guitar. If you don't want to get better on guitar, I probably won't run into you, since my job is to make people better and those are the people that come to Guitar Principles. If you are not looking to get better you probably won't be reading this anyway, you'll be busy playing your guitar, at whatever level you play it! How much you are actually enjoying it, though, is another question. As far as what "getting better" means, it means two things: 1) Becoming able to do things that you could not do before 2) Being able to do things you can already do, but learning to do them much more easily Both of these possibilities are very exciting for the guitar player who knows how to make "getting better" happen, and both lead to increased joy in playing guitar, and increased musical quality and power for the music we make.

Learning To Do What You Can Not Do

When someone begins to learn guitar, they, by definition, fall into the category of needing to learn to do things they cannot do, because they cannot yet do anything! So they are not ready to sit on their laurels and enjoy the fruit of their accomplishments. They need to set out on an effective path of learning to do what they cannot do. Some do actually learn the necessary new skills and continue on playing guitar, and many don't, and stop trying. Many of those that do get up and running as guitar players reach a particular point of ability and stay there. There are things they can do, and there are things they cannot do. This is fine if they do not want to do the things they cannot do. It is a problem if they want to do new things, but find they cannot learn to do them. Then, they go through a cycle that begins with struggle, leads to frustration, and finally resignation. But the frustration is always burning underneath, they feel a resentment that they cannot do what they see other, "better" players doing. Anyone familiar with "The Principles" knows that the entire goal of my teaching work is to enable any guitar player to learn to do what they cannot yet do, and have not been able to learn to do. We have that one covered. We have saved thousands of guitar players who could not even get to first base with guitar from the horrible fate of continuing to live without being able to play the guitar. Because of "The Principles", no one need any longer suffer silently with the torture of unrequited guitar love! So, let us turn our attention to the other aspect of "getting better", which is learning to do the things we can do already, but learning to do them more easily. Why is that important?

Learning To Do Things More Easily

I once saw a video of the legendary classical guitarist John Williams talking about practicing guitar. He remarked that guitar players needed to learn to enjoy practice and to understand what it is. He said "practicing is sitting with your guitar and saying "now how can I find an easier way to do this". This statement contains a great truth, but unfortunately, for many players that truth will be useless, because they simply do not know how to make anything easier. Like most great truths spoken by great players you have to actually be in the same place they are in before you can see the truth of what they say. Knowing how to make things easier is what all of my teaching work is about. I show you step by step how to do everything in the best possible way, and in a way that does not prevent continued development. "Skill" is the ability to reconcile opposing dynamics. When we can do something easily, it is because we have found a way to balance the opposing forces that must be applied to the guitar strings in a way that does not create excessive and uncontrolled muscle tension. When we struggle to play, we are suffering from this muscle tension during playing that is resulting from movements that do not apply force to the strings in precisely the correct way. This is always true. When we are struggling to play, and our body is constantly tensed while trying to make the movements that will make the notes (and there are many, many players in this state even though they are only dimly aware of it) everything that makes music so wonderful begins to degrade. Our rhythm and smoothness in playing, our tone, even the notes themselves begin to be only a pale reflection of what they could and should be. It is no fun for either player or listener. Now that we have looked at the "what" of playing easily, let's look at the "why". The reason we should always strive to find easier ways of doing things on guitar is quite simple: the easier something is to do, the more our musical feeling can be poured into the music we make. The more developed, ergonomic and optimized our technique is, the wider the pipeline though which musical feeling can be poured. We must still supply the musical feeling, but it is amazing how much easier it is to feel the music once the physical body is relaxed, comfortable and actually feeling pleasure in its movements to play, and the mind is concomitantly composed, quiet, and able to simply be aware, listen to and enjoy the music even as it creates it in each moment. Understanding this vital relationship between musicality and technique is extremely important. People often argue about which one is more "important", musicality or technique. That is an absurd question, it is like asking which is more important, the chicken or the egg! One gives rise to the other, and each is the "reason" for the existence of the other. Technique is needed so that we can make the music, and without the music we would never need technique. In fact, they are two sides of the same coin, and I don't think we would ask "which is more "important", heads or tails? (unless maybe we bet on heads!). The desire to express our musical feeling demands the technique with which to do that. The more refined our technique, the more refined our musical feeling is allowed to be. The size of the pipe through which our musical feeling can flow depends on the ease with which we perform the movement process called "playing the guitar". I call this pipeline our "musical margin". As we learn to continually surrender ourselves to the music, and increasingly intensify our emotional involvement with the dimension of "sound with meaning" that we call music I believe that we, as players, should be in continual search of widening our musical margin. There should always be as much room and freedom for the flow of musical feeling as possible, but when we struggle to play, the flow of feeling is strangled. There is an direct relationship between technique and feeling in making music, the more there is of one, the more there can be of the other. We must keep in mind, however, that not all music is equal in its demands for technique. Some things are simply easier to do than other things, and some styles are more demanding of technique than others. People's attitudes about technique are often fashioned by the particular style they play. The basic rule of thumb is to acquire the technique you need to give life, not death, to the music you wish to play. One other important benefit of learning to do things more easily is that it increases our consistency during playing. Every one who performs or records has had the experience of having things go really well in the practice room and fall apart on the stage or in front of the mic! We usually blame "chance" or any number of indeterminate factors for our playing breakdowns. The fact is that these breakdowns have a technical basis. Sure, on a good day when no one is watching we might make the notes 3 times out of 5. But when the pressure is on, the power of every technical weakness is magnified a hundred times. As we learn to do things in better and better ways, using less effort and causing less tension, it is amazing how solid our playing becomes!

Hearing The Music

Another interesting fact is that the easier it is for us to make the music, the more we are able to actually hear the music as we make it. And the more we hear the music we make, the more we feel the music we make. As I have improved my playing over 40 years, I have seen the notes themselves sink deeper and deeper into my bones. Every note is more alive, more vibrant, and carries more meaning to my inner ear. For the listener, who is on the other end of the notes I play, their experience with the music I make is primarily dependent on the experience I am having with the music I make. This intensification of the musical experience is the primary reason for continuing to widen our musical margin. For those who desire to do so, it is an endless and ever deepening process. When you do it for a long time, you become known as someone who is "great" on guitar. All great players have a wide musical margin. All struggling players have a narrow musical margin. All "non-starters" on guitar have no musical margin, they have no ability to feel the music - because they cannot make music to begin with. This is the situation of a player who wrote to me recently, wanting to know how to "feel" the music more... "Hi Jamie I want to know how I can play the guitar with more expression. My problem is that I can read and play the notes in the song but for some reason I can't give the music the expression and passion needed to make a good performance. How can I overcome this brick wall? My professor tells me that I have the passion inside but I need to let it out. For some reason it hasn't happened yet. I am very frustrated, I hope you can help me. Thank you Jamie! Ed" I have never met this person, but I have met hundreds of students over the years who say the same things when they first come to me. In all these hundreds of cases I have seen one thing, and one thing only: there is no musical feeling because the person is struggling to play and does not know how to make the music without struggling. Many times, the person was studying with a teacher, often at the university level, and the teacher could do nothing to improve the situation either. I have no doubt this is the case here as well. For those who wish to widen their musical margin, no matter where you are right now, Guitar Principles is the way to the deeper experience of making music you are seeking. By Jamie Andreas www.guitarprinciples.com

83 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    tallica83x91
    Only way you can say to hell with technique is if your Marty Friedman
    thebigredjj10
    They still have technique though, albeit unorthodox techniques that are largely taught as improper by many. They found their own techniques that led to their unique sounds and styles. But they still used technique to perfectly replicate the sounds they wanted to make, it wasn't like they were just lazy and didn't care what sound their guitars made.
    knator22
    I think that feeling just depends on the time you are. For example, when metallica had their firsts gigs, people would remember dave as the crazy guitarrist (he wasnt an amazing guitarrist at that time). Also, sid vicious from the sex pistols didnt know how to play the bass, but he was remembered and he entered the band because he was the pasion.
    steven seagull
    it's only ever guitarists that have this arguments, because sadly it's the only instrument where a significant number of players seem to think that music theory is somehow optional when learning to play a musical instrument, whereas for any other instrument it's simply an accepted part of learning to play.
    polypterus
    That's actually far from true. If you are in a high school orchestra you will typically be taught how to read and play music. Thats about it. If you had said sometime similar to the effect of guitar players not reading music, I might agree, but reading music isnt really theory with the exception of knowing what key you are in. Having played both the violin and guitar Im willing to bet a FAR higher percentage of guitar players know some theory even if they havent been formally trained. Also a FAR higher percentage of guitar players probably try to write their own music. Most classical musicians leave that to composers.
    Alcofuel
    I think it's because of all of the examples we have of players that don't really know any aside from what they picked up by playing/teaching themselves. I mean, if you play you're going to pick some up even if you don't know terms and whatnot.
    Iommianity
    I think it's funny that this 'feel' argument always comes from guitarists, and generally those that play particular genres. Sure, lots of awesome guitar players in metal/rock/blues lacked a formal understanding of theory or 'proper' technique, but you're forgetting something key that separated them from the basement noodlers and cover band weekend warriors: they had amazing ears for music, and a natural pitch to boot. The only thing they were 'feeling out' is things like scale patterns, the relationships between scales and chords, and rhythm, all in a way that the rest of have to work harder on. There are way too many guitarists that see this, and use it as a copout to not develop. If you have your playing figured out, and you're fine just jamming in your room, more power to you, but let's be real, here. To say that a guy like Dimebag didn't know scales is a bit naive; he might not have had a formal understanding, but he wasn't wanking around aimlessly, 'feeling his way out'. Years of woodshedding and rigorous practice left him with a developed ear and the muscle memory to boot. That said though, his lack of theory is evident in his solos. All pentatonic/blues based. If that's your thing, more power to you, but I hate this idea that guitarists have where playing with feel means ugly bends with spastic vibrato and no vocabulary whatsoever. People complain about being limited by 'rules' but they have no problem limiting everythign about their playing (dynamics, phrasing, vocabulary) to 5 or 6 notes and stock blues patterns. tl;dr Eddie Van Halen, Dimebag Darrel, 90% of famous blues guitarists, etc have something you don't: a naturally gifted ear for music and tones, and years of self devised structured practice. Don't make excuses and then compare yourself to successful musicians.
    Nitnatsnok
    I don't agree with your statement at all. There is nothing natural about EVH or DD's ear for music. It was does with straight up long ass hours of practice, effort and goals.
    zomgguitarz1234
    A better comparison might be dave mustaine who didn't know theory until he had to basically relearn guitar. I remember in one interview he flat out said "I don't practice" which is why if you listen to bootlegs of peace sells they're all out of time and shit. Might have been the heroin though.
    Abacus11
    It's all about writing good songs that mean something to you when you play them and connect with your audience. The only people who really care about technique are other guitar players. Improve your chops as much you can to open up new avenues for writing but don't be OBSESSED with modes, scales, etc.
    crazysam23_Atax
    Tell me, how does one learn to write and play a song? By learning basic techniques. For instance, if I want to write a song in Gmajor, using simple chords; then I have to know what 1) what chords fit in Gmajor and 2) how to play those chords. (Chances are, you'll probably pick the I, IV, & V chords, which are Gmaj, Cmaj, & Dmaj in the key of Gmajor.) That's technique. If you don't have the basic technique to know how to write and play your simple song in Gmajor, then you will need to learn how to do so. Otherwise, you're never playing a simple song in Gmajor. So...knowing modes, scales, etc. to a degree shouldn't be obsessed over. But you should at least know enough to bring out the musical ideas you wish to write and hear.
    Sethis
    If you want to learn how to analyze music then theory is just great but it's far from enough for composing. The bad thing with theory is that it can only tell you what sounds "right" but only your ear can tell you what sounds awesome.
    Kueller917
    "Feeling" is always a strange description. You can't really define it or quantify it like you can technique (which can be measured in a general sense with a few exercises). It becomes difficult to tell what "feeling" can really be since it differs from guitarists. Theory is also a strange one. Personally I think knowing at least some base theory can help you as a musician and help you communicate and understand ideas better, but I don't think there's a direct correlation between theory and a good piece. I've had musically complex stuff I've written, and have also had times where I wrote the strange time signatures, complex chord progressions, and the like, and then ended up cutting it down to a few basic chords in 4/4 time cause it sounded better. In both cases though, I was glad to have theory background to fall back on.
    bustapr
    the way I see it is this: feeling = how you want to sound technique and theory = tools to achieve said sound In order to make the best music you can you need both
    BradIon1995
    Why do people say that using technique automatically makes your playing have no feeling? Does Broderick's playing not want to make you crack some skulls? Does Malmsteen's playing not make you grin a stupid grin and make you think everything's OK in the world? Anger and flamboyance are emotions.
    bustapr
    music theory = tool to make music. theres no "technique is used for this and feeling is for that". feeling is all about how you, the player, wants to sound. technique and theory is tools you use to achieve sound you want. Knowing theory and having good technique makes sounding the way you want and sounding good a hell of alot easier. Sadly you cant just play with only feeling and will youre fingers to hit the sounds in your head. even the slightest amount of theory like learning sounds of chords and the pentatonic scale are extremely important tools to learning to play and sound good. just use these tools to implement the sound and min your head, and you have playing with feeling and technique.
    bfredder92
    I hate it when people pull the you-have-no-feeling-therefore-you-suck card...People like that are often unwilling or incapable of playing at high and accurate speeds, and because of that, they slam people over it who can play fast and say that feeling is the ONLY thing that matters in music. I think there's a happy medium between the two and that's what I want to go for. People who want feel only want long bends and simple but "expressive" playing and claim people who play fast just wank off on the guitar the whole time (which in some cases is true), and I think it's because they are butthurt by the fact they can't play fast and accurate. Btw technique is important because in order to break the rules you must know them first, hence why I think players like Marty are able to mess around with new things and still manage to make them sound great. But there is a happy medium folks so don't fall victim to either side
    Alcofuel
    It's actually pretty rare that I find someone making that claim out of butthurt. Not everything is jealousy, despite what mommy taught you.
    SideshowBob180
    So, you're basically saying that theory stops you from playing random notes until something good comes out, yet apparently that limits your 'creativity'.
    Kueller917
    Well it's double sided. If you have some great ideas but have a hard time structuring them, knowing theory can help you get everything conveyed without guessing. But if you start treating theory like mathematics, with definite answers and laws on how to do something, you're only limiting yourself because there are no definite rules to how music can be composed.
    Iommianity
    If either of us gave a ****, we wouldn't be here.
    Iommianity
    You know, also, sometimes people don't point out mental deficiencies to spare feelings. Not here. You're as stupid as you want to be, and more power to you.
    crazysam23_Atax
    To me, an article like this should end the debate of "technique vs. feeling". We have so many damn debates about that on this site. It needs to end. Every time someone brings that topic up, I'm tempted to just say, "Read this article (and link this article here) and stfu!" Seriously, there was never much to argue over anyway.
    bustapr
    if you dont know what youre doing, youre likely going to sound bad. Doesnt really matter how many funny faces you make, and how long your bends last, if a note is badly out of key, people are going to notice it. Even the great almighty God Marty Friedman uses theory, plays in tune with chords, and follows a key in nearly every solo he does. I might get some bad rep and a couple of FUs for saying this, but I think players who are well known but barely use any theory, like Jimi Hendrix sound bad.
    DjangoUnstrung
    Hendrix could read music and knew plenty of theory. He was a hired gun for a while and played in little richards band among others.
    gypsyblues7373
    The reason you might get some bad rep and a couple of FUs is because that's a dumb statement, and it's actually not true. Hendrix may not have been "schooled" in theory per se, but his knowledge of it shows through everything he played. He may not have known the terminology, but he damn sure knew how to apply it. And as far as Marty Friedman "using" theory, he's one of those rare creatures that sounds amazing, but half the time he doesn't know what he's doing. I've read interviews where he says half the time he has no idea what scale he's even using.
    Onehitsrock
    And some well-known players that always follow the rules of theory sound a bit repetitive and bland..therefore sound bad imo. Hendrix may not be your (or my) favorite, but its hard to say it sounds bad...He had his own exceptional technique which is what we all should strive for musically.
    polypterus
    Bottom line is no matter how good you are technically, you need to have some musical gut to really make it. I wont say knowing musical theory, or having a high degree of technical ability is bad, but I think you can be super at both and still not be all that great. Truly great artist can write good songs and many of them arent all that in the technical department. Id take EvH over Steve Vai any day of the week simply because he kicks ass. Lets face it, if almost all your fans are other guitar players you may be a great "player" but you arent a great artist.
    jasonb77
    I think this was a pretty good lesson. Aspects of it reminded me of excerpts from Zen Guitar by Philip Toshio, and The Music Lesson by Victor Wooten. I recommend those books to anybody interested in this. They offer a lot of insight into the "Feel" regarding music.
    Squidlyboy
    If you feel 'limited' by music theory than chances are you aren't applying it in a creative and/or efficient way. Theory shouldn't be looked at as a set of 'rules', it should be looked at as potential answers to questions that may arise when you're playing or composing a song. Most of the guitarists I personally know who have learned to play first and then learned the theory second have initially felt limited by it, but with time their mind opens to a point of acceptance, and awareness of all factors that come into play when writing/playing music.
    TheEternalJew
    I'd say most "famous" guitarists who say they have no idea about theory are just talking themselves down abit due to criticism from other musicians. It's obvious they know how to find a root note ect. but they probly just don't know the names of some scales/modes they use so avoid talking about it.
    lightdark
    The thing is, if you can feel a song and know your scales and theory, you can then feel the song and make it sound good.
    kiirunelson
    You need both technique and theory but technique(theory) first so that your musical skills expand.I have seen through first hand experience how hard it is for someone with less theory to fit in a band;myself being a church band leader i can tell you for certain that the guys with less chops have a hard time fitting in doesn't matter what instrument they're playing.Bottom line is if you don't know your theory you're simply wasting your time and everyone else's.This lack of theory forced me to learn all the instruments-drums,bass,keyboard as well as still being proficient on my guitar in order to teach the rest of the band members' who lagged behind in their chops.Believe me it was hard work.Anyway i,d like to discredit those who feel that music theory is unnecessary.First for that guy who says that Slash doesn't know what he does half the time did you see his recent interview on talkasia on CNN he complains about alot of guys entering the music industry without having to perfect their chops obviously that should tell you right there that technique is just as important to him.He also admits that at times when performing he has some bad nights and other nights their good so proving that musicians do have times when the feeling is not that great but hey rather to have a bad performance but still have skill to pull through cause 9 out 10 times your performance will always be great most of the time when your technique is good. I could give you more examples of Top notch musicians who claim or prove that technique(theory)is just as important.Steve lukather of the band Toto admits in his autobiography on his website how sometimes he would be amazed how some musicians he worked with when he was a session musician in the studio; how they even got their recording contracts which goes to show if your theory is bad everyone notices.Eric Clapton one of the most iconic guitar men of the 20th and 21st century talks about his weekly routine in one of his songs(song title is So Tired from his album Back Home-for those of you who want to check out what am saying) and mentions that he has music classes on one of the days of the week albeit he sits down with the band and goes through a music class of some sort either teaching band members what new he has learnt that they can apply on their songs or he learns something from any of his band members that they can apply to the perfection of the Music.Just remember one thing though when a musician claims that he doesn't know what he does half the time their just being modest or have been told to say that by their publicist.This is just a way of making them to appear 'cool'to the public(The public being most of the time adoring teenage fans)but believe you me guy's have studied or mastered their art thoroughly regardless of whether you hear the musician being on drugs or partying all the time.At the end of the day you won't know what they do behind closed doors so don't be cheated guys technique(theory)is just as important;get it right from the beginning and everything else musically will be smooth-sailing.
    Engel22
    Technique and skill is important if you want to be a more versatile and creative player, but the soul has to be there, too. What's really important is trying to find your own sound and style, something that makes you stand out amongst your peers.
    Vicious_Turtle
    people seem to think, if you wanna be great, you have to learn all that theory and all this bs. when i ohnestly believe thats backwards. it makes you less creative cause your being told wat you can and cannot do. not knowing theory forces you to "feel it" and be creative and explore. ill probably get flamed for this but look at it this way. dime has said in tons of interviews he doesnt know much. and you def cant argure he has noo feeling. same with slash. hate on him all you want but the man has more soul in his playing than most people on the planet. and he even says he doesnt really know what hes doing. hetfield. cantrell. the list goes on. i would much rahter play like them than all these supre knowledgeable theory shredders out there
    AeolianWolf
    the only reason you feel that way is because you don't know theory. i'd be willing to make a wager that you only play one or two genres of music, and that they're probably metal and/or rock. music is a lot more than just those genres, my friend, and while that attitude may get you through them, you'll find that you'll fall flat in most other genres (save for blues, maybe). i'm not going to flame you for it, just going to point out that the attitude you're displaying is what's going to prevent you from getting a lot of the results you want. great article, except for the fact that it's ultimately a marketing ploy. but there's definitely a lot of good information to take away from here.
    thebigredjj10
    Theory is not supposed to be limiting. It is only meant to describe the sounds you are hearing in a logical way. People who understand theory can describe the sounds to another person and the other person can instantly replicate it without even hearing what the other person was talking about. Even people who claim they never use theory, use it more than they do. Just knowing the names of chords is part of theory, as it describes what note combination makes said chord. Theory isn't limiting. There also isn't only one method of theory, there are many. The most widely known in the western world is the traditional western theory, which has developed over the past millennium. The point of learning (Western theory for example) is to learn how all the different note combinations sound. There are some rules, but the only reason you learn them is to know when to use them, and when to break them. Also there is no reason a person with theory experience can't feel it. Just because they know what they are doing doesn't mean they aren't feeling the music. Also many theory learned guitarists also play by ear, (actually most do as well), as learning to play by ear is part of musical theory.
    gypsyblues7373
    That's one of the biggest misunderstandings about theory, and one of the biggest cop-outs for not learning theory, that's been around for ages. Theory does not limit you. It only helps you understand what it is that you're playing in a logical defined way. The only people who say that they think theory limits them is the people who don't know any! I've never heard that comment from anyone who is well-versed in theory.
    Vicious_Turtle
    well considering i know some theory, theres always a first for everythning huh?
    gypsyblues7373
    And it's made you less creative and limited you huh?
    Vicious_Turtle
    makes me feel limited sometiems yeah, if i know what notes will sound good together then why would i play some that dont in the mix? but i think sometimes its good to have a dramatic change in tonality or chord voicing depending on what im doing. throwing something in that "doesnt go" sometimes sounds good. so it limits me in a way, untill i realise i stop doig it and go the other way. thank you for your condescending question though
    gypsyblues7373
    If theory is making you play notes that don't sound good "in the mix" as you put it, then, as I'm sure you've heard members of the opposite sex say before, you're doing it wrong.
    BradIon1995
    EDIT: " but i think sometimes its good to have a dramatic change in tonality or chord voicing depending on what im doing." Precisely what I was getting at.
    BradIon1995
    Theory is pretty much a complicated way to explain a very simple thing: Play this note with this note and put that chord underneath it and it sounds like this. People don't need to know it to be able to use it without knowing it, however knowing it's almost like having another technique up your sleeve. You would more than likely benefit from learning theory as long as you don't strictly abide by it my friend
    Alcofuel
    You aren't supposed to look at theory as a set of rules. Some do, and that's a lot of the reason they're boring regardless of how skilled they are. It's more or less a language. Chances are you'll probably pick some of it up in a sense if you play, even if you don't really learn it formally.