How much theory...

HaffnerHaffner Posts: 7,890
...do you think you know?

This is a topic asking for self-appraisal, and when I ask about what you think you know, that means even Dinos here that aren't school taught can participate. That means everybody.

The topic itself was inspired by an excellent topic that Jenn started a few years back: http://dinosaurrockguitar.com/forum/index.php?topic=10793.0;wap2

We've got cool new members to add to this subject as well :up:.

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Comments

  • Kind of interesting given the direction the Tom Hess thread has taken.
    In the midst of the sort of general malaise that only the genius possess and the insane lament.
  • HaffnerHaffner Posts: 7,890
    [quote author=Dinosaur David B link=topic=15604.msg237486#msg237486 date=1378385159]
    Kind of interesting given the direction the Tom Hess thread has taken.
    [/quote]

    That was another factor in creating the topic.

    As for me, I taught myself theory, arranging, reading scores, and composition, all in the past eight years (inspired by Richard Wagner).

    But to paraphrase Holdsworth, I only know now that I really don't know anything about music lol!

    I do use theory to back up what my ear comes up with first in composition and playing, but overall ear for me is king.

    I mostly prefer to "just play" when it comes to a solo, for instance. If I hear something that I really like, I'll either keep it or work on it until I'm completely happy. Sometimes I will refer back to the modes and scales, though. These days I most often do that just to make sure I'm doing something intentionally "wrong" or "out".

  • All the theory I seem to know are from associating the sounds in my head that translate to riffs and melodies on the guitar, and then figuring out the scales and then using that to communicate better with bandmates. For example I'd have a riff in my head, which I play on the guitar. If it has notes and intervals that I haven't used before, I'd go look it up. I'd also try and write a few riffs and melodies using the scale, and if they work, they become a song together. No rules, and I don't have to stick to the same scale or anything, but as long as it flows as a song, it's all cool. Some of the songs have these scales mixed up. Universal Sleeper has some dorian, and some regular blues scale riffs. The dorian riffs are used to give the song a break and to change the mood a bit. I had no idea what dorian was until I used it in the song on three different parts. Now I know dorian. I didn't know phrygian untill I wrote a song called Where there's Smoke where a key change into a phrygian during the solo added so much to the song. I didn't know the maj9th chord until I wrote an arpeggio for a new song called Bearded & Bizarre. I've learnt time signatures AFTER I wrote parts with those signatures. So I learn theory depending on the songs written - and while this works for metal because it's mostly all about riffs and going with the feel, I do wish I knew some of this theory beforehand, so my songwriting and my fretboard knowledge would get faster. Must skype Joe soon!
    Check out my band: Bevar Sea
  • AgrippaAgrippa Posts: 5,928
    I know enough to know I don' t know shit.

    I can "tell"/name the notes in just about every chord I come by in the type of music I want to play.
    That's all you need to improvise or make riffs with seemingly confidence, and my theory lecture stopped there.
  • I'm self taught....which is funny because now I teach others. But I was always extremely self-motivated and I did a lot of self study and experimenting especially in my first 10 years or so of playing. So, while I don't have any formal education and can't read music very well I've actually given clinics on modes, key centers, phrasing, etc. To me theory is only useful if you can find a way to apply it to the music you love...so I focus on application with my students. I've found theory to be helpful personally as I've grown as a composer...I have more options because of that knowledge, but I still follow my ear...if it sounds good it is good. It all comes back to that no matter how simple or complex something is.
  • HaffnerHaffner Posts: 7,890
    [quote author=Nick Layton link=topic=15604.msg237503#msg237503 date=1378400741]
    I still follow my ear...if it sounds good it is good. It all comes back to that no matter how simple or complex something is.
    [/quote]


    I remember feeling comforted when I read Edward Van Halen touting that approach in his 80's interviews, because that's how I did things. During my successive infatuations with Wagner and Uli's music, I stayed on course toward my goal of adding theory and "conventional" composition to my knowledge. But I never gelled at all with those whom seem to put it first, like Vai, Satriani, Petrucci, et al. Even Roth keeps the edge in his playing, which is something I rarely hear in the other players (besides one of the kings of rocking edge, EVH himself).

    Rockin', edgy sound with a lot of passion spilling over, mega-balls. Even timing and accuracy are second to those elements for me.

    Sounds like I just described king Gary's style :metal:.
  • SkyeSkye Posts: 1,661
    Pretty good - not only thru self study and numerous teachers, but also college level courses in ear training, sight singing, and jazz & classical theory (prefer classical theory honestly).

    My goal for the immediate future is to dust up on my theory and take it further.
  • yngwie666yngwie666 Posts: 6,557
    I was taught the basic theory of chords, scales, modes, interval but I cannot play any scale on the guitar except F ionian and the usual pentatonic.  I can read a bit of standard rhythm notation for drums. I tried ear training, learning scales, etc...but I forgot everything, quite frustrating because I have a good memory (but rather visual).
  • OskyOsky Posts: 1,056
    Prior to taking up guitar age 14 I played violin, viola and piano as a young kid. That gave me a pretty good grounding in basic music theory and helped me in getting started on guitar. However, I'm pretty much self taught on guitar as I'd had enough of all those strict boundaries you get with classical music by that age and I just wanted musical freedom. Later on in the 80s (I started playing in 1980) I taught myself modal theory from articles I'd read in various guitar magazines and tinkered around with jazz chord voicings for a little while. In the last 20 years I've not studied music theory at all apart from reading an odd article here and there, like Dave said in the 'playing with feeling' thread by the early 90s I knew enough theory to be able to express what I wanted to and I got to that point where I let go of all that stuff and just trusted myself to intuitively play what was right.

    How much of all this do I use nowadays in my rock covers band? In working out song parts, keys etc probably quite a bit, but when it comes to playing solos then very little on a concious level. Most of the time I just try and get some of the feel of the original player and then mix it with my own thing. There are some solos that are so melodicaly important to the original piece they really need to be played note for note, and I'll always try to do that if thats the case...UFO's Only You Can Rock Me for instance would sound rubbish without Schenker's wonderful melody in the solo!
  • I'm self taught. I can't read standard notation to save my life.  I know basic scales (pentatonic minor and major, major and natural minor, harmonic minor, diminished). They're actually part of my practice routine, in any key, and in 3 or 4 point layovers. Patrice mentions visual memory, and in fact, my way of learning scales was to memorize them visually on the fretboard.

    I also know some very basic things about modes, but I never use anything else than pentatonic, aeolian, and the odd phrygian or diminished lick. As for chords, I mostly use standard dino ones (power chords, 4th, 3rds, flatted 5th...). Sometimes I can do something that sounds OK  with weird chords (that I'm generally not able to name), but then it's purely accidental....


  • TravisWTravisW Posts: 988
    [quote author=Nick Layton link=topic=15604.msg237503#msg237503 date=1378400741]
    I'm self taught....which is funny because now I teach others. But I was always extremely self-motivated and I did a lot of self study and experimenting especially in my first 10 years or so of playing. So, while I don't have any formal education and can't read music very well I've actually given clinics on modes, key centers, phrasing, etc. To me theory is only useful if you can find a way to apply it to the music you love...so I focus on application with my students. I've found theory to be helpful personally as I've grown as a composer...I have more options because of that knowledge, but I still follow my ear...if it sounds good it is good. It all comes back to that no matter how simple or complex something is.
    [/quote]

    Similar case here, although I'll admit to getting extremely lazy with it since I stopped giving lessons a few years ago. I think one of the great things about theory is that it presents you with options that you may not otherwise consider. Too many people think of theory as a set of rules that must be followed, but I've learned that the opposite is true - it's a tool that helps open you up to possibilities that you may not have otherwise considered.
  • yngwie666yngwie666 Posts: 6,557
    [quote author=Seven Moons link=topic=15604.msg237518#msg237518 date=1378416194]
    I'm self taught. I can't read standard notation to save my life.  I know basic scales (pentatonic minor and major, major and natural minor, harmonic minor, diminished). They're actually part of my practice routine, in any key, and in 3 or 4 point layovers. Patrice mentions visual memory, and in fact, my way of learning scales was to memorize them visually on the fretboard.
    [/quote]
    Yes but that's my problem I get lost in one pattern and then it's all wrong. My guitar teacher was just doing it by ear but this I can't do !
  • Took lessons for a couple years when I was a kid, but even the teacher's approach wasn't academic and the jazz lessons from a few years ago did help, but only so far.  I'm horribly ADD and as soon as I start to approach the guitar in an analytical manner it all falls apart as I get stuck trying to remember what this is supposed to be or where this & that scale or chord goes and so on.

    I basically play everything by ear to a fault meaning I have trouble playing with other musicians who work from a more structured approach if they are expecting me to be on the same wavelength as them.  To answer your question Haffner, no real academic knowledge of theory & can't read a lick of music.  I basically play (or more accurately) attempt to play what sounds good to my ears.
  • maybeyesmaybeyes Posts: 4,522
    Very little theory.  I can read, but it takes a long time.  Am going to be working getting better at the reading and theory over the next year. Not so much to help understand the rules I am breaking, but rather to ensure that I stay with the melody of the written music.  I lead worship and sometimes other musicians who can read are in the choir or amongst the musicians helping me (mostly the singers) and they call me on every beat I may add even if it sounds good.  Knowing the theory and being able to read faster makes it easier.  The musicians have no problem following me, however the singers are usually the ones who state that I held a note a half beat too long and know the song has changed.  I usually add a couple bars here and there playing by feel, but that creates a bit of a problem as well.  If I learn to read the music correctly at least I can rewrite it and give them a new version as opposed to stating to them to suck it up and follow me.

    Never mistake a clear view for a short distance.

  • I've been taking lessons for the past couple of years. Guitar lessons that is. I don't feel like I know a lot about theory, especially talking to people who have learned piano or taken marching band. I know what a major chords, minor chords, and diminished chords are, and I might be able to write them out for you in musical notation. I know how to read some music. I played saxophone for 3 years.

    I also know the circle of 5ths/4ths (I struggle through it). A lot of time in lessons, I just did improv with different scale forms (I did a lot of jazz improv stuff with Dorian and Mixolydian; my teacher was in a jazz band and she also taught piano and guitar at an academy.)

    I just felt like lessons were really not organized and we would switch topics all the time. Also, I was never too enthusiastic about writing out the notes in a chord. When I look at a fretboard, roots are pretty much the extent of what I use in theory and use my knowledge that, "this scale works well over this chord type." When I make stuff up, I'm not usually thinking theoretically.

    :offtopic: On a side note, Dave's "Fast Fingering" box pattern (http://www.dinosaurrockguitar.com/new/node/800) is kind of how I see the fretboard. You can play every single mode/scale with that pattern by moving the root note to a different finger on the pattern.
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