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how theory is important ?

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(@kalagan)
Active Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 9
Topic starter  

hi,

i'm playing the guitar since years without know anything (or not a lot) about musical theory.

In the past i was thinking it wasn't important because you can play with tabs and by "listening songs".

but knows, i understand that, excep if you are a genius, you can't be a good musician (and guitarist) without leraning music therory. So i think that i 'll start to learn musical theroy at 28 years old (never too old to learn !!).

So my question is : do you think that someone can become a "great" musician just by playing with "feeling" ??


   
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(@kingpatzer)
Noble Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 2171
 

Sure, tons of people have done just that.

But if you're not a great musician just by playing by feel at 28, you won't be.

And "feel" is really just a euphamism for "intuitively understands theory at the practical level."

"The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side." -- HST


   
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(@greybeard)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 21 years ago
Posts: 5840
 

The question really only has relevance to the recent past (say, 20 years or so), because the scene has changed so much and is continuing to do so.

Taking that into consideration, the answer must be "no". The number of solo guitar players is, outside the classical and jazz arenas, minimal. The result is that a guitar player is forced into being part of a larger group and has, therefore, to be able to communicate, in musical terms, with the other members of the group. A lack of theory is like being a dyslexic, who has to write a story - knows what he wants to say, but has no adequate means to communicate it.

There are players (Hendrix was, apparently, one) who "see" notes as colours. The problem is knowing whether one player sees a particular note in the same colour as another player. Theory gives you the grammar to communicate in the language of music.

I started with nothing - and I've still got most of it left.
Did you know that the word "gullible" is not in any dictionary?
Greybeard's Pages
My Articles & Reviews on GN


   
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(@alangreen)
Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 5342
 

In contrast, I think that although you need a certain level of theory to be able to understand what the heck is going on and be a really good player, you need "feel" to become a great player.

The downside is that you're not going to be a great player without stopping off at really good for a while on the way, so go for it with feeling.

Best,

A :-)

"Be good at what you can do" - Fingerbanger"
I have always felt that it is better to do what is beautiful than what is 'right'" - Eliot Fisk
Wedding music and guitar lessons in Essex. Listen at: http://www.rollmopmusic.co.uk


   
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(@hughm)
Trusted Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 39
 

Theory is important, for a variety of reasons. But it's important to balance your intake of theory with actual free playing. A head full of theory can often overwhelm you and make you feel as though you don't know enough to play well - or that your playing is not up to your stockpile of theoretical understanding. This is bad, and it will make you play less.

My advice, learn about keys, scales and chords in your spare time, but let it inform your playing on a largely passive basis. Let it seep into your awareness. Only that way can you acheive any degree of seamlessness between what your heart and your head are saying to you.


   
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(@hbriem)
Honorable Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 646
 

I'd like to offer a different viewpoint.

For me, learning music theory simplified greatly, no enormously, learning how to play the guitar and bass.

It was like a shortcut, stripping down a huge morass of unconnected titbits into one simple, easy scheme that fits roughly onto 1 typed page.

Instead of having to learn 20,000 different things, I only had to know about 30, plus a little logic.

As far as I'm concerned, theory is the easy bit. Playing by ear is hard. Fingering is hard. Strumming patterns are hard.

--
Helgi Briem
hbriem AT gmail DOT com


   
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(@undercat)
Prominent Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 959
 

Very interesting Helgi...

I guess I have a little bit different take on it than everyone here. I was pretty much in the same boat as Hugh, but unfortunately that didn't work out for me. I knew theory and just let it sit in the back of my brain, and honestly, never really applied it to my playing.

Spending time with my guitar teacher later, I realized that I only played with about 10% of what I knew. It's still early, I think I'm probably only at something like 25% now, but it's getting better, and I can definitely see it in my playing.

So that's my take on it. Learn it as you use it. Physically practice your theory, or it's application will never set in, and it will be nothing by an electrical impulse in your brain...

Do something you love and you'll never work a day in your life...


   
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(@musenfreund)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 22 years ago
Posts: 5108
 

I'd like to offer a different viewpoint.

For me, learning music theory simplified greatly, no enormously, learning how to play the guitar and bass.

It was like a shortcut, stripping down a huge morass of unconnected titbits into one simple, easy scheme that fits roughly onto 1 typed page.

Instead of having to learn 20,000 different things, I only had to know about 30, plus a little logic.

As far as I'm concerned, theory is the easy bit. Playing by ear is hard. Fingering is hard. Strumming patterns are hard.

Well said, Helgi.

Well we all shine on--like the moon and the stars and the sun.
-- John Lennon


   
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(@gizzy)
Estimable Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 109
 

Theory for me changed my guitar playing, I no longer use tabs anymore have not for years, I can now listen to songs get some Idea what key it is in and what chords are in that key and which scales to use and then play around with the song until what I am doing fits with the song, for me it don't have to be the exact note that they use in the song but what sounds good to me and blends well with the song that way I am using my own sounds which is very rewarding.

:D


   
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(@karla)
Estimable Member
Joined: 19 years ago
Posts: 137
 

I'd love to learn more music theory. I know quite a lot already, but mainly things I know from my clarinet lessons. I would like to learn more about specific chords often used in blues, jazz, pop etc. Things like that. But no one can help me out on where to find a book or e-book or whatever about it. So if anyone here can give some info on that I'd be eternally gratefull ^^


   
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(@hughm)
Trusted Member
Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 39
 

For the past couple of years, I've been working through Walter Piston's classic: "Harmony." I do small logical chunks every day or so. Second-hand copies can be found in most good used bookstores.

A lot of good interactive theory can also be found at http://www.dolmetsch.com/theoryintro.htm


   
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