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Thread: what's your favorite music theory?

  1. #1
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    what's your favorite music theory?

    what are your top 5 things of theory that you feel have the most advanced you in your learning of guitar?

    or also just something you really like that might be a more uncommon thing.


    for me the major scale pattern, and the pentatonic blues scale, learning them in multiple ways, some moving along the neck and some staying in the same neighbourhood, and actually i'm not finished exploring this in every way i can possibly imagine.

    also the 3 main voicings for all the chords that the major scale pattern consists of.

    I don't know if that's 5 or not, but really those are the only things of theory i know (unless you count the name of notes and of types of chords, which i'm not counting, and which i find helpful but unfortunately could still use some work on.)


    so what's your bread and butter? or thing you were really happy when you learned.

  2. #2
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    1)mayor scales
    2)minor scales
    3)chords inversions
    4) how to call tones in RP terms (e.g. a major 7th up to F# is E# and not F)
    5)quartal and quintal harmony combined with tertial and "2nd" harmony

    the last thing is the greatest for me cause opened up a lot of possibilities when playing chords ( e.g. D-A-B-F# , D-A-C-G, D-A-C#-G# (with the last 4 strings) are chords that sound good, easy to finger , formed by 2 quintal harmonies and 1 tertial harmony (the first one has a "2nd" harmony in-between);another one can be E-G-D-A (using the last 4 strings); another great chord is E-B-F#-A-C#-G# when sounds good it means that the guitar is very well-tuned ) ; another chord that sounds very good to me and its very easy to finger is " E-A-D-G" a chord that i define a "pure 4th chord"

  3. #3
    Registered User bluesking's Avatar
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    1.) Understanding the difference between a key and a scale.
    2.) Combining the major and minor pentatonics to get the full blues scale (this is like a combination of mixolydian & dorian). Even adding the blues note. This gives you a 9 note scale.
    3.) Getting over modes and focusing on arpeggios, arpeggios, arpeggios!!
    4.) Understanding chord construction.
    5.) Understanding chord progressions (there is a lot contained in this one). Circle of fifths, key signatures, functionality behind each note in a key, secondary dominants, scale choice for soloing over progressions.

    But really the most important thing I have ever done is avoided using theory as a surrogate for playing. Most of the concepts above I have known since my second year of playing. I have only really understood them since I have played them in every way imaginable over the next 11 years.
    Last edited by bluesking; 07-20-2009 at 11:20 AM.
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  4. #4
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    The list grew much too long - so, my WOW items include:

    Understanding how to play with others in a band situation. How to augment and not compete with the other band members. Being able to function in a jamm circle.

    Chords in another voice. Using the dropped D and short cut capo.

    Understanding how to harmonize the melody line.

    As Bluesking said going beyond modes and understanding there must be a melody in there somewhere. And then of course being able to work up original melodies.

    Being able to read and play from standard notation.

    Playing a second instrument.

    I think those are the things that have helped me the most.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 07-20-2009 at 01:34 PM.

  5. #5
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    If you're going to limit it to theoretical concepts, I guess I'd say the circle of 5ths.

    That, and the idea of key as something based on the major scale (and chords harmonised from it), but not having to be limited to the major scale (capable of a lot of bending around).

    But I wouldn't say any theoretical concept has "advanced me in my learning of guitar", half as much as the kind of things Malcolm talks about:

    1. Playing with other musicians (not just learning playing tips, but ensemble skills, working as a team member);
    2. Transcribing records.

    Those are the two biggies for me. IMO, you can learn everything you ever need from those two things - whether or not you use theoretical jargon to talk about or explain the stuff you learn! (and of course, you generally do... )

    Actually, being able to read notation - which I could do before I picked up a guitar - has been enormously helpful. Don't know if that counts as a "thing of theory". It means I can add a #3: Learning songs from reading songbooks.

  6. #6
    Registered User bluesking's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR
    But I wouldn't say any theoretical concept has "advanced me in my learning of guitar", half as much as the kind of things Malcolm talks about:

    1. Playing with other musicians (not just learning playing tips, but ensemble skills, working as a team member);
    2. Transcribing records.
    Absolutely right.
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  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR
    If you're going to limit it to theoretical concepts, I guess I'd say the circle of 5ths.

    That, and the idea of key as something based on the major scale (and chords harmonised from it), but not having to be limited to the major scale (capable of a lot of bending around).

    But I wouldn't say any theoretical concept has "advanced me in my learning of guitar", half as much as the kind of things Malcolm talks about:

    1. Playing with other musicians (not just learning playing tips, but ensemble skills, working as a team member);
    2. Transcribing records.

    Those are the two biggies for me. IMO, you can learn everything you ever need from those two things - whether or not you use theoretical jargon to talk about or explain the stuff you learn! (and of course, you generally do... )

    Actually, being able to read notation - which I could do before I picked up a guitar - has been enormously helpful. Don't know if that counts as a "thing of theory". It means I can add a #3: Learning songs from reading songbooks.
    how exactly do you use the circle of fifths?

  8. #8
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by fingerpikingood
    how exactly do you use the circle of fifths?
    http://www.ibreathemusic.com/forums/...ad.php?t=16721

  9. #9
    The Riff Master zog's Avatar
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    To me the most important thing that I learned that opened up everything was understanding the relationship between the notes and chords with in a key. How each chord and note has a function to play within the key allows you to really get inside harmony so to speak.

    Learning the the major scale all over the neck and of course studying the music of those people you like offers a never ending supply of learning material.

  10. #10
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    thanks, i think i'll be on that for a while, and i'm willing to bet my exploration will cause a few new songs to materialize.

    thanks to everyone else too, there's some good stuff to play with in there. like a musical christmas.

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