Who is the most advanced musician with the least knowledge?

twoheadedboy

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Some players can write and play relatively advanced and complex music, despite having very little formal knowledge of music theory, little or no ability to read music, and very little ability to articulate what they are doing. So, what are some extreme examples of people who can play very advanced music despite having little formal knowledge of music?

Edit - I'm referring only to formal, explicit knowledge of the type printed in textbooks and taught in schools.
 
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marvin cobain

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Django Reinhardt is the first that comes to mind. Besides being the virtuoso he was, he was also probably one of the best composers for the guitar with some quite sophisticated tunes and he didn't have any formal training.
And if I remember correctly Valzinho ( Norival Carlos Teixeira) while he wasn't a virtuoso, he wrote songs of incredible sophistication (especially considering the period) without having any knowledge of theory. He was like Jobim before Jobim, and actually Jobim was influenced by his music and admired him.
 

DS007

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I know I have a better answer to add later, but the first name that came to mind was Dave Grohl. By his own admission, when he started playing guitar, he thought of it like a drum set (low strings as the kick, middle and high strings like a snare and high hat) - didn't even know the names of the chords he was playing. Yes, Foo Fighters aren't super "advanced", but the ratio of Grohls songwriting success to his description of his formal music knowledge should qualify in this discussion.
 

wire-n-wood

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Variations of this question keep coming up. As someone who has studied western music theory, I say it’s a totally flawed question based on misunderstanding. Whatever Tim Peirce “says”, he’s a monster on music knowledge. Whatever you may think of Hendrix’s academic background in music theory, his understanding of music was off-the-charts sophisticated. I have no idea whether he could put it into words, but he could put it into music, which is the proof in the pudding.
 

twoheadedboy

Member
Messages
13,730
Variations of this question keep coming up. As someone who has studied western music theory, I say it’s a totally flawed question based on misunderstanding. Whatever Tim Peirce “says”, he’s a monster on music knowledge. Whatever you may think of Hendrix’s academic background in music theory, his understanding of music was off-the-charts sophisticated. I have no idea whether he could put it into words, but he could put it into music, which is the proof in the pudding.

There are many different ways to know music. Here, I'm referring only to formal, explicit knowledge of the type that is written in music textbooks and taught in schools.
 




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