The Crusade. Part I

Bringing theory to the rock world.

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Greetings, fellow rockers! It's time for me to begin my crusade. What crusade do I speak of? One of hacking people of a different opinion to bits? Perhaps slashing the speakers of amps I don't like? No - it's my goal of teaching theory to rock musicians. Ha ha! Perhaps I can bump Larry the Cable Guy off primetime with my comedic ideas! Instead of Larry's signature saying on redneck trucks everywhere, tough vehicles all across America will sport the letters ii-V7-I and folks will be laughing. Hey Joe, did you hear about Josh trying to teach intervals to people? HA HA! But until the gas guzzlers are pasting chord progressions on their cars, here's a series of articles designed to help you, the average viking shredder, pierced punk, or reverse mullet emo kid - learn music theory in a cool way. First, to learn rules, we need rules: The articles shall not be: 01. Boring. 02. Confounding. 03. Stuffy. 04. Impossible. There. And if they are, remind me, and I will beat myself over the head with a metronome. Why should you bother to learn, and why am I writing to show you? Well, first off, theory is not as hard as you think. It's just how it's usually presented. I've learned that skilled teachers can make anything boring. Thankfully, I'm not skilled in that regard (I hope.) Remember, I'm a rocker, too, and I intend to remain that way. Theory has helped my playing out in a big way, and it's my belief that it can do the same for yours. I usually hear the following logic when it comes to learning music theory. Dude, I'm a rock (metal, punk, emo) guitarist! I don't need theory. While this partly true, it's missing half the fun! Nobody needs to learn theory, but read on, and hopefully you'll be convinced to tackle this challenging, fun, and enormously useful discipline. Why bother with this confounding, complex, and suspiciously classical study? Because it will make you rock. Seriously. But you'd better let me explain before you believe me. The word music theory is enough to send a tattooed, pierced, long haired metal guitarist running away to cower behind the light bar at the Blood and Guts Hard Rock club. A guitar buddy once quipped How do you make a guitar player shut up? Put a piece of sheet music in front of him! But seriously, folks, music theory has helped my rock playing tremendously, as well as making other styles more accessible, and I'm here to help you learn about this fascinating study of music. (And don't worry, you won't need to read music to understand the lessons.) Specifically, what is theory good for? I would say that Theory is the study of the chemistry of music. When we create a musical explosion, knowing theory, we can duplicate that madness instantly, because we understand the how and why. Moreover, it unlocks the fretboard, and frees us from extensive and time consuming guesswork. A few examples of the many applications would be: Constructing chord progressions, and understanding why they work. Soloing over unusual chord progressions, and sounding good the first time. An aid in composing music. Adding tension and resolution in your music (metalheads, read: making your music sound spooky.) Understanding different styles of music. Understanding chords. Understanding scales. Understanding how different artists and composers approach music (getting inside their heads.) In short, it is the study of why. Cheer up. Make the decision to educate yourself, and if you're looking for an edge in your field, this is a superb start. Contrary to popular opinion, theory won't serve as a straitjacket to your songwriting, nor will it make you sound classical. (But it can if you want it.) Remember this: If we want to be rebels, we need to know the rules in order to break them. So be warned - I'm on the warpath, and in this crusade, I will catch the dissenters, and throw 'em into da pocket. Da pocket is a feared pit full of...metronomes! All clicking away...at 300 beats per minute! Stay tuned for the next article in this series: The first lesson of the Crusade: Intervals! Don't forget to check out my blog. Josh Urban (photo) is a musician with a unique perspective on music. Always a thinker, he gains insight wherever he can find it, be it in the clubs as a working musician, busking on the city streets, or teaching in the classroom. A naturally enthusiastic fellow, Josh is always fired up about bringing the lessons he's learned to his readers. Maintaining a website, a blog, and a monthly newsletter, he aims to make musicians stop, think, and play with a little more intensity, integrity, and inspiration. You never know who's listening.

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    Shred Head
    I'm very excited about this, all that theory my guitar teacher tries to drill into my head just gets buried under piles of porn and powerchords and I never manage to apply any of it, hopefully this helps
    AbsenceOfFaith
    This looks and reads amazing. Please keep the lessons at the same casual, accessible style of writing.
    unfluffed
    I was expecting a lesson, and instead it was just some talk about how cool it is to learn theory, over and over again... though I can't wait until the real lessons start!
    caphits
    sounds like good stuff if you can pull off making theory fun and whatnot.
    demonofthenight
    Some people you can't teach theory to. Sadly, some people have a mindset that learning anything is boring, especially theory. But still, interesting idea.
    Andraysexy
    I gurantee everyone here, if your intent on leanring theory, you'll become 1000 times better than all your ignorant guitar playing friends. What better way to make fun of them then to ask them to play a simple Ionian C maj and watch them turn the gain as high as possible and suck realy bad. Yay for theory!
    Stampede
    wow. hope the actual lesson keeps me as interested as this little introduction.
    RainMustFall
    You summarize my feelings exactly. I'll show your future articles to my beginner friends.
    bananaboy
    Playing without theory is like putting a bunch of monkeys in a room with a typewriter and expecting Hamlet. You might get something good, but if you do, it's luck. Playing with theory is like putting a bunch of William Shakespeares in a room with a piece of parchment and a quill.
    Ash on fires
    Yeah man ur such a "rocker!" But seriously folks, lets try a little actual teaching next time! Or go beat yourself up with a metronome and stuff...dude!
    uvq
    This sort of writing is very interesting or maybe its just the fact you said it mustn't be boring therfore making me think it isnt lol..
    guitaringsailor
    music theory relly rocks! iv'e been studyingit for almost six months now and i guarantee it's awesome!!! i will follow this
    decayingdave
    I was thinking, could I go to college today, or could I find something better to do? ...and I think you've just given me something better to do - Well done! I'll address the angry comments from my teachers to you, after I learn from the rest of your articles.
    EdguyRule_22
    Shred Head wrote: I'm very excited about this, all that theory my guitar teacher tries to drill into my head just gets buried under piles of porn and powerchords and I never manage to apply any of it, hopefully this helps
    hahahahahahahaha
    armisis
    Oh, nice just found this, so need a PDF of this so I can print it and put in my collection of Guitar knowledge.
    eric_wearing
    "How do you make a guitar player shut up? Put a piece of sheet music in front of him!" The whole reason I'm learning theory heh. Can't be another rock jock can I?
    ShaDoW0lf
    When the real theory begins, i'll give that article a rating. For now, great intro
    Dunjma
    Yeah man ur such a "rocker!"
    im hoping thats not sarcasm. nice stuff dude, i hope you can pull this off theory usually goes right over my head. \m/^_^\m/
    BennyStruggle
    cashewchaching wrote: This site doesn't have enough people who appreciate theory.
    Thats because almost none of the greatest Guitar players ever had a lesson. Unless you call a "great" guitar player someone who sits there "shredding" and pulling a Fagwie Dicksteen all day and night
    Hobo279
    BennyStruggle wrote: cashewchaching wrote: This site doesn't have enough people who appreciate theory. Thats because almost none of the greatest Guitar players ever had a lesson. Unless you call a "great" guitar player someone who sits there "shredding" and pulling a Fagwie Dicksteen all day and night
    you ignoramus. I sort of agree with you about Yngwie malmsteen, he could afford to be a little more melodic. but really, dude, check into your history a little more. All the greats of today, and a lot of the past ones, have had their heaping load of theory lessons.
    Kalyth
    Can't wait for the lessons then! I've been studying for some months and I have to admit I got many improvements, so you're really welcome!
    blackcatz
    We need more people like you who take the time to share their knowledge with other people without charging any price. Nowadays there are tons of websites that promote things like "Become a guitar god in 30 days by purchasing this lesson! Only 39.99$," and all those crap. I really appreciate the efforts you make man; all the lessons you keep writing to help people like us become better as musicians. Keep on rockin' in the free world!
    ShamiqSevenfold
    this piece of writing has given me alot of encouragement,and that is really important(i think) because i find theory lessons intimidating at first but thats just me
    bluesrocker101
    cashewchaching wrote: This site doesn't have enough people who appreciate theory.
    Sure it does. Look at Musicians Talk in the Forums. Checked.
    rokstar666
    i like the way you write, if you write the lessons the same way then ill read them. good luck guy