Learned the theory, now what??

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by countandduke, Oct 13, 2006.

  1. countandduke

    countandduke Member

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    I understand almost every part of theory as far as what scales can be played over what notes but I also know that almost any note can be played over any chord as long as you play with very good rhythm and don't purposely sit on tension tones and obviously outlining the chord tones goes a long way to making nice sounding melodies and solos.....but I keep feeling like, "What now...." How can all the theory be used to make interesting and cool sounding songs?? I mean, I know what sounds good to my ears but there MUST be a way to use the theory in ways that will produce interesting sounding chord progressions......ideas?? Books, videos, music examples.......anything would be helpful.

    Thanks,

    Chris
     
  2. jmadill

    jmadill Gold Supporting Member

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    Now play! Develop your "ear/hand coordination."

    Play with other musicians. Play with the radio. Play with a looper against chord progressions. Play with backing tracks.

    -jm
     
  3. ivers

    ivers Member

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    The best thing for me development-wise was when I pretty much threw away most of the books and videos and concentrated on buying a sh1tload of albums in the styles I wanted to explore instead. Of course, YMMV. Oh, and playing with people also helped a lot.
     
  4. countandduke

    countandduke Member

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    I do play with the radio and to backing tracks but I guess I want to know the inner workings of chord progressions and why they sound the way they do.....For instance there's tons of II, V, I's in jazz but you can then extend that progression to III, VI, II, V, I. I know that modulating between keys can be done using chords that are shared between the two keys.....

    Jamie Aebersold has great books on how to improvise but I want a book that's "How to write cool sounding songs......"

    Chris
     
  5. TaronKeim

    TaronKeim Member

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    I honestly don't think there is "theory" to writing cool sounding material or interesting sounding material, that is where the science of the instrument ends and the creativity and math take over... you take what you know about theory, mix it with your own chords, your own takes on scales and you make your own skill set out of the tools at your disposal.

    I would personally hate to think that the only way to write amazing, interesting material is to read a book where it is documented.

    I understand where you're coming from, but it sounds as if you're too uptight with the instrument and not having the fun of "picking it up for the first time" all over again... if you know what I mean.

    Make up some chords, and don't bother defining where they belong or what their tonality is, just try to make music that is interesting to you, and then, when you get stuck, whip out that ol'theory as a tool to aid you in your writing and keep the process moving when you're stuck.

    Creativity, inginuity and soul should be the primary focus for song writing (at least for interesting and orginal music) everything else should be seen as a tool to aid it or as a secondary thought.

    All of this in my own opinion... of course.

    -TJK
     
  6. Cap'n Fingers

    Cap'n Fingers Member

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    Ted Greene
    Ted Greene
    Ted Greene
    :dude

    Chord Chemistry has been a source of chordal inspiration to me
    for over 20 years. It's a must have book. He also has a progression
    book but I'm not to familier with it.
    Mick Goodrich's books are great too.

    Long before I had any formal lessons I explored chord sounds. As a
    result I found a lot of open voices that I liked but had no idea what
    they were. After I had some theory under my belt I could tell what
    the chords were that I had made up. I was able to marry the knowledge
    with the nieve experiments to come up with interesting progressions
    that don't always fall in line with rudimentary key/progression theory.

    It's all about what sounds good. You need to know theory but you
    have to set it aside and experiment to get creative.

    Hope this helps.

    **Just saw TaronKeim's post above. +1 Nicely put. ***
     
  7. countandduke

    countandduke Member

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    Thanks for the input guys. I literally have a stack of books about 8 feet high of music books. Ted Greene's are among the best and I guess my answers are in those books. I have begun teaching recently because I enjoy passing on info but when I play something cool and someone says, "Teach my to play like that....." I get lost. I don't know how to teach them how to play like that. Kids usually don't find theory all that interesting but I am trying to show them that those chords for sure will sound good but you have to use your ear to find what "sounds" good too. Kids ask, "Why does that sound good though??" Hell, I don't know......

    Keep the good ideas coming.....

    Chris
     
  8. Rock Johnson

    Rock Johnson Member

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    Something I've tried over the years is to record a basic rhythm track, then record yourself *singing* a solo over it.

    Then you go back and learn your vocal solo on guitar. The results are almost always surprising and fresh, since your voice isn't limited to the muscle memory like your fingers are.
     
  9. Dana

    Dana Guest

    As a graduate of a music college I can tell you I learned all the theory anyone would need in less than a year.

    However, to be able to use it 'on the fly' while on the gig has been a life long quest. One of my teachers used to say, "There's a difference between knowing it, and owning it." I personally agree with this philosophy.

    There's a huge difference between knowing that the B Altered Scale is C melodic minor starting from the 7th note, and being able to improvise on it in an eloquent way over any tune in any key at will while on the gig.

    Just my opinion.
     
  10. Patrick Ginnaty

    Patrick Ginnaty Member

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    #1) Learn songs. It's like taking lessons from the songwriter... for free.
     
  11. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    So if you now have a good grasp of theory under your belt... then it's probably time to start working by yourself with 'intervals' .... There is no way around the fact, that you have to develop a personal relationship with 'intervals' (I know this sounds Dr. Phil-ish, but believe me, all great players have this...)

    Sure, in theory any note can work... but 'in order' to make a convincingly musical statement, you have to be able to hear it first in your head... learn to instantly know it's sound & how the pull of gravity affects it... Only then will you be able to figure out how to make musical sense with it....

    Warning: Only attempt With No one around!... Repeat, With NO One Around... this kind of practice with not place favorite with others... So in private isolation, practice playing odd or wrong notes over static harmony... repeat & repeat, until you can hear them in your head & know where to go (notewise) in order to resolve them... (good ol' tension & release...)

    Intervals & note movement has to earn or achieve a certain degree of logic in your brain & fingers before you can consistenly make musical sense with them...

    Analytically listen to how great players target notes with confidence... impose harmonies & such..

    John McLaughlin said that one of the great ways to learn how to play beautiful 'outside-inside' lines, was to learn scales from other cultures & mix them into solos ... Though their intervals may sound foreign, their relationships to each other are extremely logical & have been around for centuries...
     
  12. Swain

    Swain Member

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    Here's some ideas:
    1. Join a band.

    2. Write some songs.

    3. Get a Real Book, and compose your own chord-melody arrangements of 30 of your favorites.

    The theory is just one tool in your toolbox. It is a good tool to have. But, it's not the only one.
    There are ear training skills to be mastered, for one. Can you easily identify any interval? Is that a M7#11? etc. (I can't. I'm not trying to give you a hard time. I'm just giving an example.)
    You could study Eastern harmonies. Try some microtonal playing. Check out some players like Elliott Sharp.
    Basically, all of these tools mean nothing, if you don't use them to say something. It's the same struggle we're all having. But every time we think we've seen and heard it all, something proves us wrong.
    Happy Hunting! :dude
     
  13. landru64

    landru64 Member

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    take 10 of your favorite compositions, figure out what the chord progressions and melodies are and analyze. maybe throw some bach in there to stay grounded. make hypotheses and connections, like you probably already are starting to do.

    repeat. a lot.


    (meaning: the best way to understand great songwriting is to analyze it! the theory came after the music, not vice versa.)
     
  14. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Tune my piano?
     
  15. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    In retrospect now, :jo when I read the initial post...
    I realize the above answer from Steve, is probably the correct one,,,
     

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