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Thread: beggining music theory

  1. #1
    Registered User ice 9's Avatar
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    beggining music theory

    i have decided to start learning music theory, but what benifits it will bring, how it will help me and when will i use it ? does anyone know ways to practice theory and to memorize all the notes on the fretboard. it all seems so overwhelming and i dont really know where to start. please help..

  2. #2
    Confused all too often! 2manynotes's Avatar
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    Ice 9,

    I too avoided music theory for as long as I could - almost 4 years. I played and chugged away with tabs I found on the internet and different licks or rhythms other people showed me, but it wasn't until I started asking things like:

    1. Why do some songs sound good and others sound bad?
    2. What makes songs work?
    3. How do I read sheet music, or write it?
    4. How do I improvise?
    5. Can I find techniques and ways to learn how to play quicker?
    6. Are there patterns on the guitar that people like Steve Vai or Satch play that I don't see? Or is it all random?
    7. et cetera

    I started asking these questions, and much more, and finally people couldn't anwer me - I had to find some stuff out on my own; and every time I make a break through in understanding something, I find that I've only scratched the surface.

    Learn music theory if you want to understand and obey music, learn it if you want to make music from the inside-out, learn theory to better understand the complexities that make up the music, but most of all, I believe that the journey will be best spent if you learn music theory because you believe in it and have a passion for music and how it works.

    I know this was more philosophical, but to answer of when you will music theory it's like saying, "when will I ever use my legs to ride a bike?" to me. You will use your legs, or your instrument often, but if you really want to get moving and you really want to go or do something with your music beyond what other people print on the internet, and you really want to "ride the bike", you'll have to learn to use it.

    Learn the theory man!

    -Justin
    -Leader of bad analogies.
    Last edited by 2manynotes; 05-03-2005 at 08:48 PM.

  3. #3
    Latin Wedding Band Los Boleros's Avatar
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    Nice reply toomanynotes. Also welcome to Ibreathe, both of you.

    When I first started reading the rules of counterpoint and harmony, my first thought was, "Rules?, I don't need no stinking rules to play music." The stuff I was studying was way over my head and I wish I had an instructor to coach me through it. Very slowly but shurely, I began to grasp little bits and pieces of the puzzle and it was years later that I really began to realize that those were not rules at all but mearely observations of what happens when music is played well. Being aware now of what works and why it works gives me even more freedom to experiment now because I also have learned many things to avoid.

  4. #4
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    I wouldn't start by memorizing the notes on the fretboard. A good first step would be to learn the intervals. Like, when you play the low E and A string together, on the same fret, that's a perfect 4th. Play a note on the low E and another two frets higher on the A, that's a perfect fifth. Etc. Learn everything from a minor 2nd (1 half step) up to the octave (12 half steps). That's a good start. Then learn how chords are built from scales, using intervals. You'll see how chords and scales are related, and why certain scales sound good over certain chords, and how to write a chord progression that you can play a single scale over. Then get into scales. Now that you understand how chords and scales relate, you can get into some of the more interesting stuff like modes.


    Somewhere along the line you can memorize the notes on the fretboard if you want. It depends on your goals. If you just want a good working knowledge of theory to help you understand music and write your own stuff, memorizing a lot of stuff isn't terribly necessary. You just need a thorough grasp of the concepts and you can look up the details as you go. Do this enough and you'll eventually end up with a lot of stuff memorized. If you want to be an expert on the subject, able to rattle off what the notes in Db Locrian are in 3 seconds or less and play a dominant 7sus4#9 b13 chord in three different positions on the fretboard, also in 3 seconds or less, then memorize everything.

    The most important thing is this: theory is 1% learning and 99% figuring out how to apply what you've learned. Learning the major scale in 1 position and playing it from lowest note to highest is part of the 1%. Writing a chord progression and playing a good solo using the major scale is part of the other 99%. Figuring out that you're more into minor sounding things, and you like dorian for a certain mood, etc. That's more of the fun part of the 99%.

  5. #5
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    Im pretty much in the same situation as you right now, the more experienced guys will be able to help more im sure but being at the same spot as you I have read through pretty much any theory website I could find, most I find were just WAY WAY WAY too confusing hehe. So far the one I found that seems to go really straight forward and explain in a way I can pick up quick was www.theorylessons.com

    Hope it helps a bit, its helping me a ton right now (up to the modes section, got a good understanding of the rest but the modes make no sense yet)

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