Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by stevel, Jan 5, 2014.
I've been working my way through it. Can't thank you enough for it!
You're welcome and thanks for the kind comment. Enjoy.
Started my way and finding it really fascinating. To be honest, I have barely any formal music instruction so this is real good stuff for me.
Well this is handy. Thanks for the work
I plan on reading all of the posts in this sticky thank you so much.
This is really incredible. Thanks so much for taking the time to help everyone out. Much appreciated!
This is a very interesting thread, and I am glad I found it.
I think a lot of people do not understand music and certainly not music theory. I learned to play the trumpet in junior and high school. We all learned music theory fundamentals and I can read music on the trumpet pretty easily because on a lot of band instruments you can only play one note at a time. You never hear a trumpet player play a chord. I learned to play guitar from listening to music and figuring out how to play songs I liked, but I don't read music on guitar because there are six notes you could play at any one time. So it is impressive to me when a piano or guitar player can look at sheets of music and see six notes (or more on piano) stacked on top of each other and recognize that chord quickly enough to play it on sight. Add to this the fact that you can play a note in the same pitch in more than one place on a guitar and reading music on guitar gets a lot more challenging.
Over the last few years at family gatherings we have discussed music and I realized that if you don't play an instrument you really do not understand how you can play music without reading music at all. I told my family that the Beatles and a lot of popular musicians did not read music and they didn't believe me at first. I used the example that you don't need to be able to write to give a great speech, and you may even be quite eloquent. But - you will not be able to read a book if you don't know the alphabet and can't write.
Same with music. We can jam, improvise and play together because we understand patterns in different positions on the fretboard. Music theory can help us understand why that works. That is why I study it, but I agree that you can be a great player and performing musician without reading music.
Interesting thing, I am now teaching my niece trumpet, and we use sheet music to read and play songs together. But I find myself now trying to learn all the scales and patterns I know on guitar so I can improvise better on trumpet. Both skill sets combined can definitely elevate your game as a musician.
I'm going to read every bit of this... I never focused much on any theory and I think that's why I have trouble "improving" and getting the sounds in my head out. So I'm going to read a lot about creating chords and progressions, different scales, modes and the circle of fifths. All that fun stuff... I figure if I read enough, takes notes, and experiment this just might help me. Thanks!
@Warlag, don't just read it though - read it, re-read it with a guitar in hand, play examples, play the concepts - thing, see, feel, and hear them at work, see if you can find the things you read in songs, and so on and so forth! Definitely experiment!!!
I hope you get something out of it. If you ever have questions, feel free to ask.
This is so great. It has taken me years to get to the point where I could read and understand this stuff. You really lay it plain and simple, the info is almost impossible not to digest as long as you work linearly through the lessons. Now I know I could just print all of these posts out and put them in a binder or something, but I'm wondering do you have a book out? Would love to have all this knowledge neat in a paper book. Seriously great stuff!
You know what, one member did do a PDF of the entire thing and send it to me. I'd have to go hunt it down though. I'd want to do all kinds of proofreading and editing before "publishing" it in any "book" format. I still want to add to it and maybe I'll do that this summer (I did add a few posts but I didn't like the way they went so I've let them fade into oblivion).
Hope you get a lot out of it. And please remember, obviously it's not exhaustive nor definitive - if you're truly interested you should gather information from as many resources (preferably published, academic, legitimate sources) as possible.
I've been learning songs and reading bits and pieces of books for about as long as I've been playing. Started taking lessons half a year ago and now things are making sense. Even though your MTMS is not definitive it is illuminating! keep up the great work!
This is great Steve. Thanks for putting it together. Theory is something I want to learn because I want to know why something I play sounds right and be able to add my own little licks here and there when I'm playing.
Please remember though that while Music Theory may help you with those goals, it is:
1. a means to an end, not the end itself.
2. a collection of terms and concepts that simply *describe* what has been done - it shouldn't necessarily *prescribe* what you do.
3. not something the defines why something "sounds right" or not - the theoretical terms may define what's "right" for a particular style but really what makes things "sound right" or not has more to do with our being conditioned to accept it.
But yes learning more will help you with these things for sure - but let it inspire, not restrict.
The reasons why certain things sound right is because they are familiar, you've heard them lots of times before. Musicians decide what sounds good, and the more everyone else agrees, the more those sounds are shared and embedded in the culture. Therefore the more the next generation(s) want to learn them, which is where theory comes in, because it describes common practices. It tells you the way things (mostly) are, but not why they are that way. It just kind of assumes they're that way because they "sound right", and have been proved to sound that way for some time, often over centuries (at least in our culture).
Think of it like the map of a city. The map doesn't tell you why the city was built like that, or why the streets are in that configuration. It just observes that they are, and depicts all the various routes from A to B (or Bb haha ). It's not a blueprint for the city (which grew well before the map was produced), and neither is it a set of instructions. It names all the streets and districts, and clearly shows the most popular main streets, but doesn't say you must go that way, or can't go another way. You can take whatever route you want, and use the map for guidance if and when you need it. And explore without it, of course.
If you want an alternative analogy, try "grammar of a language". Music is a language you can learn by ear if you want - roughy as easily as you learn your mother tongue. You learn that without books, without knowing what a "verb" or "noun" is. You can study English grammar later if you want, to learn how to talk about language, but you don't need it in order to know what you want to say. You know what order words go in, you know how to make the right sounds. (That's where music is different, because you have the technical challenge of learning an instrument too. Even as a singer, you have to learn how to use your voice like an instrument.)
Moreover, while grammatical knowledge is useful, it's not supposed to be instructions on how to "talk proper" (even if some people think it is). Like music theory, grammar simply observes the "common practices" in how people speak, and discerns useful formulas which help others learn it, and to speak clearly as possible.
There are lots of dialects, street slang and colloquialisms that grammar experts might think are "breaking rules", but slang has its own rules, or the people using it would not understand each other. That's like the various kinds of popular music, folk or blues, which don't follow "classical" rules (or not many of them anyway), but have plenty of their own rules, well understood by both the musicians and their audience.
Yes! That's where theory can offer tips on how to "sound right", rather than hunting around by ear. Your ear is always right, but it can often be unsure. It's quite common to find a sound which is "almost right", but not quite, or you hit 2 or 3 options which seem equally suitable and can't decide which way to go. There's the map analogy again...
But still, the "city" is what it is. The map doesn't show it all. You need to get out there and explore it yourself, and not always trust the map (in some ways it's out of date...).
Very cool post thanks Steve!
My 2 coins on theory made simple and I have for myself very much so:
Well personally I've forgotten, relearned and forgotten again more theory then i will ever use It can bog you down too.
So I just play as much as possible now and much less studying. But its all what you want out of it in the long run. How deep do you want to dig.
Something even cooler that Ive been studying is "Music and Emotion" more than what i can't apply or remember on the fly when improving with traditional theory. I've shrunken my internal theory map down to key sounds, with out getting too deep, theory is ether major or minor. all else falls under these two columns.
Structural features and Suprasegmental features.
Berklee "89/90" Boston, MA