theory meory

Skip to the bottom

  • @leepat  Jan 23

    Hi everyone,

    I believe every songwriter needs to know some (basic) music theory, so if you're a relative beginner or just wanna warm up for fawm, you're welcome to check out 2 five-day challenges over at

    Have fun!

    And of course, if you think theory will ruin your flow, I'm always up for some ole-fashioned arguin' 😉

  • @fuzzy  Jan 23

    Ole-fashioned arguin'? Well, okay...
    There's a quote on my Soundboard from Captain Beefheart that says, "Musical structure? Frankly, I don't see what you need all those sandbags for, just to keep your river in place."
    So there's that approach, as well. Too much music theory keeps you plowing the same old furrow. 😀

  • @judypie  Jan 23

    Yes I’d definitely disagree with that 😝 Never took a day’s theory in my life and have wrote plenty of songs.. BUT... Maybe they’re all shit! Who knows! Having said that, I do always think I should learn *something* at least, it can’t hurt (can it?) so I will definitely check out your link thank you! I just like arguing 😝

  • @aflinner  Jan 23

    I started writing songs before I took an interest in music theory, and on some level I was actually afraid to mess with my writing mojo. Since then, I have studied music theory, and it has only made things better for me.

    Don’t take theory as “you must do things this way”’s more like “You know that thing you heard/wrote that you liked? This is why it worked, so you can use it again.” Learning theory won’t analyze the mystery out of the magic, it just helps you understand it better. The magician knows how the trick is done.

    Theory doesn’t box you in, it opens you up to possibilities. It puts into words the things you already understand, and helps you understand them better so you can make more informed also builds on that and explains things you never considered. Refusing theory is like nailing some boards together to make a chair (maybe even a good chair) but refusing to learn carpentry. It’s all about craftsmanship and technique.

    Knowledge is power.

  • @dragondreams  Jan 23

    What @aflinner said!
    I teach guitar and bass, but approach it from a theory angle. None of my students complain about learning why what they play works. But I do stress this approach is how it's going to be right from the outset. A student who comes to me simply to learn "songs" is going to be disappointed. However, it's not happened yet.
    Besides, as one of my bass students put it last week, how will you know what rules to break if you don't know what the rules are? I stressed that "theory" isn't rules, but I understood where he was coming from. 😉

  • @ayehahmur  Jan 23

    Or, to put a probably needless third way what @aflinner and @dragondreams said: theory is a description of what you already know, what melodies and harmonies sound good to you, what rhythms sound right. Learning theory can give you a set of tools to go further with your experimentation, to build on the foundation of your own musical instinct if you want to. (And it can be *really* useful if you're a beginner and haven't learned to trust that instinct yet.)
    But - and this is the wonderful thing about music - it's not necessary. If you're happy trusting your gut for what sounds good, it's all good.

  • @fuzzy  Jan 23

    Although I have presented an opposing view, I actually agree with you folks.
    As long as you don't let theory handcuff you.

  • @carleybaer  Jan 23

    I used to be extremely averse to the idea of learning theory, but here I am in music school for the second time, and I love it even more. The only people who have ever seemed shackled to it, in my experience, were high school kids who took one class and thought they knew everything. One of them once told me I couldn’t play A major in the key of G, which is technically “correct” if you don’t get to accidentals or tritones or modes, or if you subscribe to the idea that anything in music is objectively “correct,” which is really hard to do if you know anything about the fluidity of music and how even the dusty old Baroque masters were bending rules left and right.

    Theory is just broadening your musical vocabulary, so that you can articulate what you’re hearing or want to hear. I’ve been in studio sessions with amazing musicians who lack that vocabulary and it really cuts into efficiency when you’re teaching the band a new song using only a small section of the language.

  • @ianuarius  Jan 23

    In my opinion, theory broadens your horizons. It gives you more ideas and an easier way to a pleasant result.

  • @metalfoot  Jan 23

    Yes, knowing *why* certain chord progressions sound pleasing helps if you want to break them and then come back. I have a fair bit of theory training but when it comes to writing I usually go instinctual. But for arranging parts (in my acapella stuff) I have in the back of my mind what chords I'm working with and what they need to be, so picking 3rds/5ths/4ths/7ths etc for harmonies.

  • @judypie  Jan 23

    Ok, y’all sold it to me. I like breaking rules so I guess I need to learn some first. I’m all signed up 😀

  • @bitshred Jan 23

    What @aflinner said and others. It's just a way of explaining what you are hearing, and why it works. I don't even think of theory as "rules". Sometimes, people who don't know theory think they are "breaking the rules" . Well, actually there's a way to explain what you are doing with theory even when you're doing something odd.

  • @aflinner  Jan 23

    @metalfoot Nothing wrong with instinct, certainly....when I’m looking for the best melodic fit for a lyric, I think of 2 things: When I speak the lyric in a measured way, where does the natural rhythm and melody of my speech go? (I usually stay in that vicinity unless I’m doing something else for effect.) And what is the lyric saying that can be further strengthened by its rhythm and/or melody?

  • @aflinner  Jan 23

    It’s funny, I remember my first 3 semesters of music theory were basically “this is how the old masters did it, these are the rules, parallel 5ths are bad, this is a German augmented 6th, etc....” And honestly I had a hard time with it because I was thinking so hard about what was supposedly “right” that I didn’t stop to learn why it was effective for those composers, why they thought music sounded best that way.

    Then 4th semester was: “Now we’re in the modern era, take all that with a grain of salt, basically do whatever the heck you want to.” (Parallel 5ths=power chords.) After all, blue is a great color for the sky...but it’s not always blue, is it? The sunset is striking in part because it isn’t.

  • @kevinemmrich  Jan 23

    Music came first, then a few thousand years later folks decided that there was some structure and theory could be written to help explain all that.

    Does anyone learn theory first and then try and write poems/songs or play an instrument? I don't think so. But after you have dabbled in writing and playing, music theory is a wonderful component in weaving it all together.

  • @downburst  Jan 23

    One of the things that irks me about the way theory is taught is that, for the most part, it's not theory. If you look at a theory book it's like "here are scales, here are intervals, intervals make chords, these are the types of chords, here are keys, here are the standard major key chords (minor is complicated, don't think about that), here are inversions, here are some standard progressions, here are modes (but for the most part just avoid them), here are the four common practice cadences, stay away from parallel fifths and octaves, etc."

    That's not really theory. If they called it "music rudiments" it would be less intimidating and less prone to rules-think, I think.

    Then at some point you start getting into the *why*. How does voice leading work? How does that form the basis of diatonic harmony? How does functional harmony work and what alternatives are there? Why are there three (or four) "minors"? Why do some scales "work" over some chords? Why are there "avoid notes"? What is a cadence, really? What is a period? How does blues-based root movement differ from common practice root movement? And on and on. You can really only have that kind of discussion if you know the rudiments, but learning the rudiments is such a long, pedantic process that people either have an aversive reaction to the whole subject (ask a performance major what they think of their theory classes) or embrace it in this quasi-fascist way ("a cadential 6/4 *cannot* function as a tonic, you idiot!").

    And yes, augmented 6ths! If you're a pop-oriented songwriter, you can drown in that before you ever get to the good stuff. And there's so much fascinating stuff being written about popular music (and jazz) that most people will never get to because they "hate theory."

    Can you tell this is a thing for me?

  • @corinnecurcio  Jan 23

    You should at least know a little something of theory. It can help with the structure of your songs. Picasso learned all the rules of painting, and then was free to throw them away if he wanted to in order to create something new.

  • @lowhum Jan 23

    Theory and practice! It's always good to expand both! And remember: "There are 7 levels...!"

  • @lowhum Jan 23

    I remember an anecdote about an American drummer who was asked to play as a substitute in some Arab country. He just arrived and they told him:
    - you are to play in 5 minutes, the sheikh is waiting -
    - but what do I play? -
    - well, you play what you always play, but put a little accent on the 7th and 13th beat!

  • @aflinner  Jan 23

    This is interesting, if you haven’t seen it...a guy who studies harmony talks about it with 5 people, starting with a little kid and leads up to a conversation with Herbie Hancock:

  • @leepat  Jan 24

    @fuzzy @judypie
    wow, this thread took off.

    Indeed, my line of arguing is that
    - part of learning the "rules" is being able to break them at will (knowledge is power @aflinner) and
    - theory means little without practice (@kevinemmrich @lowhum) and they mutually reinforce each other

    That's why I like to focus on theory from a songwriting perspective - sometimes a chord or a structure can't contain an emotional avalanche, other times you want the tools to trigger the avalanche at a well-picked moment.

    it's nice (as an artist, craftsman, etc.) to be able to choose you side freely (and wisely).

  • @iwilleatyou  Jan 24

    "Music theory is for musicians who can't write a hit song."
    -David Hasselhoff

  • @johnstaples  Jan 24

    Personally, I find music theory incredibly boring and generally unnecessary for enjoying, playing and writing music.

    I've tried many training. My eyes (and ears) always glaze over!

    My very first experience was a couple of years of guitar lessons as a kid (I still hate Mel Bay to this day!) A kindly old gentleman named Cot Haynes tried his best to teach me music theory. I tortured myself and my family with those lessons for months and months. Fortunately, Mr. Haynes closed his music school before I gave up completely.

    My next teacher, an ace guitar player with a red fro, asked me what I wanted to learn. I said Stairway to Heaven and finally learned to play guitar! He also gave me my very first Jimi Hendix album! I don't think Jimi or Zep were huge music theory folks and they did OK.

    Now, put down those pitchforks (tuning forks?) because I'm not saying music theory is bad. I'm just saying it is not my cup of tea! I'm perfectly happy playing music and writing my songs over here in the shallow end of the music pool!

  • @johnstaples  Jan 24

    I'm always tickled when someone makes a nice technical comment on one of my songs and I have no idea what they are talking about.

    Person who knows way more music theory than me: "I love how you minor augmented the diminished triplets in that stucco deep-dish pizzicato section of the convoluted fifth!"

    Me: "Yeah, I meant to do that!"

  • @sheamiejay  Jan 24

    One chord is fine. Two, you’re pushing it. Three, you’re into jazz.
    -Lou Reed

  • @fuzzy  Jan 24

    I agree, @johnstaples, I'm in the same boat when it comes to theory.
    Commenter: "Did you write that song in (blah blah) mode or (blah blah) mode?"
    Me: "Uh... Yes?"

  • @atitlan  Jan 24

    The way music theory relates to the history of synth music is quite interesting. All the early synths, particularly those used by the early 80s wave of synthpop bands, were monophonic, so they never really worked from theory background - it was just a case of these monophonic notes sound OK together, so we'll use them.

    Early synth music was very 'punk' in terms of it's DIY and anti-muso attitude and, of course, was part of that huge influx of new artists in the late 70s/early 80s enabled by punk.

    There are a lot of accidental chords in the output of those bands, different parts and timbres making the chord, like a woodwind section in an orchestra.

    Skip forward a few years to the ready availability of polyphonic synths and especially when the DX7 etc hit and there's a qualitative change in the music, you can hear that music theory is guiding the compositions - particularly that things are being built on clear chord progressions.

    There's gains and losses in both approaches - the Human League's Reproduction vs Dare or OMD's eponymous debut vs the later 'The Pacific Age' both demonstrate this clearly.

    In my own songs, a growing knowledge of theory has had a similar effect as for those early synth bands. A greater ability to translate an idea into musical form, but at the cost of a tendency towards the conventional compared to my early efforts.

  • @aflinner  Jan 24

    Sometimes I just mash my fingers down and see what comes out as a starting point. Then I figure out what the chord actually is so I can work my way out of it. When you’re just noodling around, starting on a cluster like that is a fun exercise. I don’t do that a lot, but you can get some interesting results.

  • @guatecoop  Jan 24

    @johnstaples I’m very similar to you in that I love it when those who know theory much better than I make comments about my songs that are very technical. I’m glad that they put a name to what I thought was an interesting sound progression. I know enough to know notes, but I couldn’t tell you why something works.

  • @fuzzy  Jan 24

    What a great idea, @aflinner!

  • @andygetch  Jan 24

    Knowing enough, but not being bound by, music theory, has helped me. Also I feel like it doesn't hurt to have more tools in the toolbox.

  • @carleybaer  Jan 25

    @aflinner the mash-your-fingers-down-and-play method was how I started at the tender age of 5, and to be perfectly honest, it's still one of my favorite inspirational icebreakers to this day. 😁

  • @aflinner  Jan 25

    I think I remember Chick Corea talking about that on his podcast with Herbie Hancock...As I recall, they talked about how they started some improv stuff like that live when they played together before.

  • @postcardhelicopters  Jan 25

    Oh, hey!

    Fellow Keyboard Mashers Unite!

    :::fist bumps all 'round:::

  • @silvermachine  Jan 25

    If I knew what the heck I was doing or why I was doing it I wouldn't want to do it anymore.

  • @klaus  Jan 25

    Remember Fawm catchphrase: " Mozart and Beethoven didn't wait for inspiration"? They knew their music theory. That didn't stop them from creating beautiful music and being prolific.

    But there is a catch. I think you have to learn music theory at a very young age while learning your instrument and how to read and write music, like those guys. Then theory becomes an integrated part of your musical vocabulary and it feels natural.

    But music theory is really just a tool. It cannot explain the mystery of music or even help you to create that mystery if you don't have a natural talent (ear) for it.

    I still wish I would have continued my music theory lessons so that I could now write four-part harmonies with ease. The rules of that are dead boring at the beginning, very mechanical, but once mastered it sounds great, even in pop songs, like violins in "Yesterday".

  • @aflinner  Jan 25

    @silvermachine I doubt you’d actually find that to be the case. No offense, everyone has their own process. But the “what” of theory just lets you see what’s already there, and suggests some things that might be, if you want to try them. And the “why” doesn’t come from theory at all.

    Music is a story of tension and release, it’s conflict and resolution. Theory gives you some options as you write so that you aren’t necessarily starting at square one every time. But music isn’t about theory; the theory is about the music.

  • @aflinner  Jan 25

    A few of the many times it’s useful:

    “I keep falling into the same chord progression” - you can use it to find alternate chord options

    “I really like that song, it inspires me to do something like that” - it helps you see what’s going on in other music so that you can take what inspires you and use it in your own

    “I want to play this with somebody else” - if two people don’t have the same basic vocabulary, it’s much harder to communicate with each other

    If you aren’t into jazz or anything, and you don’t enjoy analysis, that’s fine. But I respectfully suggest that if you don’t learn the basics, you hold yourself back from your own potential.

  • @aflinner  Jan 25

    @klaus I didn’t work on theory like I should have when I was in college.A couple of years ago I basically retook it for free on Coursera:

    Really good course, well laid out, highly recommend to anyone who wants to learn a bit about it. (Probably after FAWM). 🙂

  • @johnstaples  Jan 25

    @aflinner there are endless examples of musical artists who have achieved great success, both critical and commercial, without music theory. And plenty more (like me) who thoroughly enjoy writing and playing music as a hobby without music theory.

    I'm glad it works for you. But that doesn't make it right for everyone. And it is NOT a given that more study of music theory means better art! Personally, if I had to spend time learning more music theory I'd be so terribly bored I'd find another hobby.

    Another important point is EVERYONE who makes music already understands some amount of music theory. Like most knowledge, it is a continuum. I know chords and keys and I can read music (but I don't want to!)

  • @aflinner  Jan 25

    @johnstaples I totally agree! 🙂 Believe me, I’m not a theory snob....and there are many people who know waaaay more than I do. Of course you can make great music without studying it. I just know some people (like my college-aged self) have been afraid to peek behind the curtain because they didn’t want to mess with the magic, and they don’t need to be.

    Whether you put a name to concepts or not, the most important thing is that you make the music that’s important to you. 😀

  • @carleybaer  Jan 25

    @bitshred I meant to mention this earlier but I like what you said about not thinking of theory as "rules." It doesn't tell you what to do, it gives language to what you're already doing.

    To further the language analogy: it's very possible for people to speak their native language fluently without ever learning to read. But learning to read certainly helps.

  • @johnstaples  Jan 25

    @carleybaer the reading analogy is interesting. It helps make the point that music theory, like reading, is not something you either learn or don't learn.

    People who never learn to read generally pick up enough from street signs, product labels, tv, etc. to get by in life. Some people read at a 6th grade level. Some at a college level. Some learn to read in one foreign language while others learn many languages. And so on.

    Music theory is similar. You can learn a few chords and entertain yourself just fine without additional music theory. Thom Yorke figured out how to entertain millions of people with his art without learning a lot of music theory.

    Just to be clear I'm not at all arguing against learning music theory if that is what you want to do. I'm just trying to make the point that your knowledge of music theory or lack thereof does not necessarily determine the quality or value of your art! And I know you didn't say that but it sounds implied in some of the statements here about needing music theory.

  • @silvermachine  Jan 25

    @aflinner. Mate, I completely respect and agree with every point you make. Unfortunately I see myself as a freedom fighter dedicated to the complete overthrow of bourgeouis musical indoctrination. 😁
    Yeah I burn the imperial flag of theory, I spit on her crotchet and her semi briefs. I don't respect no theories, I make my own rules.
    Honestly, that's how I approach music. If I forced my stuff into some constraint of musical theory or referred to it in those terms, I would feel I had failed.

  • @fuzzy  Jan 25

    I'm on team @silvermachine.
    Of course.

  • @judypie  Jan 25

    I agree with @klaus ! I’m looking at this theory stuff in my old, withered state and it’s swimming in front of me making no sense and I feel like I just wanna pick up my guitar and sing over it. I think I’m too far gone to learn the theory side.. unless maybe there’s a pre-beginner class I could take. I wish I’d learnt it when I was younger I really do, but now I’ve got to where I am without it, I feel like I got no interest. Being lazy and stubborn doesn’t help me any either.

  • @aflinner  Jan 26

    @johnstaples “your knowledge of music theory or lack thereof does not necessarily determine the quality or value of your art”

    ...Well spoken, sir! I agree. I believe that all sound is on some level musical (music is organized sound, and all sound contains the overtone series). Music is all around us, and we don’t have to pick it apart to enjoy, appreciate, or even make it. Nowadays, there are apps that make it easier than ever before to make music with little to no experience....there are those who will bemoan that, but I’m not one of those people. Music is a natural part of who we are, and making its creation more accessible is a good thing.

    When all is said and done, make the music you want to, the way you want to.

  • @jwhanberry  Jan 26

    Every endeavor has its own unique language. Music theory is about learning the language of music. For me knowing the language just makes everything much easier. As for the idea that it somehow impairs creativity or puts me in a box, my experience is that it has opened many paths to creative possibilities and freed me from the box. I would not want to not know theory.

  • @dzd  Jan 26

    I have to agree with the piss on theory crowd. Personally, music to me is just a form of expression done 99% of the time privately for my own well being. If I had to learn more than what I've had to in order to make the right noise it would not be a worthwhile endeavor.

  • @dzd  Jan 26

    Not that I'm against knowledge or the obtainment of never can know enough. It's just more language and terms I dont have the room for, or the desire to make space.

  • @kevinemmrich  Jan 26

    If you call a C-chord a C-chord you know and use theory. If you say, let’s play something in "G", you know and use theory. If you know what a 1-4-5 is, you know and use theory. If you know that an E minor chord is also a G6 chord, you know and use theory. If you know what a pentatonic scale is ... and so on and so forth.

    Almost everyone that has done music for a while picks up and uses theory along the way. Theory is not some mythical beast guarding the vault of musical nirvana (though it can be a pesky little chihuahua at times). It is all around us in everything we do. Theory is not over there, while music is over here. Theory and music are always intertwined in our knowledge -- just some folks study it a bit more.

  • @carleybaer  Jan 26

    Theory is also fascinating from a historical perspective, because the “rules” everyone talks about, at least in terms of western music, were initially imposed by the church. Music was initially only one voice, then it was allowed to be parallel fifths, then fourths (but never tritones, that’s the devil’s interval!!). Once Martin Luther came along, he decided that worship music belonged to the people and hymns were written and hymnals compiles. From then on it’s just been one big long experiment in “how can we deviate from our predecessors?”. Parallel fifths, once the hallowed ground of Gregorian chant, was shunned for being boring and hollow-sounding. And of course, during the whole of human history minstrels were running all over creation swapping scales and modes and cross-pollinating all kinds of influences. Music evolved from a single-cell organism to a complex living being over the course of a millennium, and you can follow its evolution if you know what to listen fo

  • @carleybaer  Jan 26

    ... if you know what to listen for. I think that’s amazing.

  • @carleybaer  Jan 26

    @kevinemmrich I went off on a bit of a tangent but you nailed it 😀

  • @dzd  Jan 26

    The music be everywhere man!

    Sorry I'll put that shit down haha

    I totally agree with pretty much everything said here so far. I guess it's just a jealousy I feel at times that I never had, or cared enough to make the time or money to learn more at a younger age. The knowledge I do have comes from trying to scrape together and usually having to make something to do noise with.

    To each their own and all that jazz
    Is it February yet?

  • @dzd  Jan 26

    And I get bored and glassy eyed when people use terms I know theres no possible way itll ever be remembered lol

  • @dzd  Jan 26

    I still call phosphor bronze strings phonosaurus rexes lol

  • @dzd  Jan 26

    Last one haha... it's still and always will be harder to hit the wrong note on purpose no matter how much you know

  • @dzd  Jan 26

    @carleybaer when was music ever just one voice?

  • @carleybaer  Jan 26

    @dzd in the medieval period, in the Roman Catholic church. Before there was notation, it was all transmitted orally, memorized, and sung by monks and nuns (as opposed to professional singers) so it had to be pretty simple. And by one voice I just mean monophonic; usually it was a plurality of monks all singing the same melody. Then notation came along so that all the churches throughout the empire could sing the same songs, and then along came polyphony, and so on.

  • @lowhum Jan 26

    Basically, your "theory" could be what you have listened to and absorbed so far, liked, disliked, etc. And it might affect your music con- or sub- consciously. Probably that's what happened with Paul McCartney running around with "Yesterday" asking whose tune it was... So it doesn't matter if you study it or you pick it up at the fair - it will finally get you!

  • @atitlan  Jan 26

    And of course when people on here talk about music theory they are almost exclusively referring to the European/Western standard. Throw Arabic or Indian music at it and it has nothing worthwhile to say.

    Ultimately it's like genres - fine as a descriptive, but start treating it as prescriptive and you're putting cart before horse.

  • @jmadison  Jan 26

    @johnstaples It happened to me on my first FAWM (2017), which incidentally was also the first time I really tried writing any of my own music. Someone commented like this: "I really like how you used those out-of-key notes in the transition before the bridge." In my mind I was thinking, "Really? I wrote in a key? There's a bridge? Huh, cool!"

    But, I really do want to learn some theory because I think it helps when reading about music, or talking with others. I watched a rather old interview with BB King last year, and he casually mentioned how he liked to slide from the 5th to the tonic (or something like that). I was surprised, having no idea how much BB knew about theory.

  • @dzd  Jan 26

    @atitlan well said, that was more my point @carleybaer
    I was thinking of some drum beatings or hell even birds or the crashing waves, but still well said lol

  • @atitlan  Jan 26

    @dzd Not that Arabic and Indian music don't also have an equally arcane body of theory, but if music is just organised sound, then any theory body can only ever be descriptive within its own frame of reference and someone will always deliberately, or accidently, create something outside of it.

    Whether you still consider it music depends on your own experience and how tightly bound you are to the cultural system you grew up with.

  • @johnstaples  Jan 26

    Well said @atitlan!

  • @johnstaples  Jan 26

    @jmadison yeah sometimes I know what I'm doing and sometimes I don't! I like to claim I know a bunch of chords but since I usually use a capo to match my vocals it would be more accurate to say I know chord forms! Capo 3 D form = I have no idea. (I could figure it out but don't really care enough to do so!)

  • @lowhum Jan 26

    There is a common ground for people who want to play together - it is easier to have some convention on the "changes". It's probably much faster than playing the whole piece and make people hear it then saying " now we play some C then E and than Am". But that probably takes us to notation. Then what is actually theory? Like physics, there's always new stuff popping out - so sit and wait!

  • @lowhum Jan 26

    I agree with @atitlan - I've played with different cultures and it makes you think, but mostly it makes you play in a different way and its pretty refreshing. Here in Bulgaria we have gypsies which are an extremely musical people and they pass all music by play and ear, so their theory is passed on from generation to generation - now in a country with 12 semitones - they adapt - but if you listen to the harmony - where does it come from? India? 😀) And it's totally improvised sometimes but according to that oral tradition. They just have the "theory" in their blood.

  • @dzd  Jan 26

    @johnstaples D up a ways? Probably is what that chord is labeled in charts if I had to guess.

  • @klaus  Jan 26

    @dzd No, I think it's augmented F sharp minor sus 5 add 2 with h on the bass. 😀

  • @carleybaer  Jan 26

    @lowhum gypsy music is another fascinating evolution to follow. There's a movie called Latcho Drom which is told almost exclusively through Roma music, starting in India, through Egypt, Turkey, central Europe, and ending in Spain ( And then Balkan folk music has its own lush history, including sharing Byzantine music as a common ancestor with western classical music. I mean. I could geek out about this all day. 😁

    Also D capo 3 is just F.

  • @johnstaples  Jan 26

    @carleybaer "Also D capo 3 is just F."

    Aww, now yer jes showin' off! 😁

  • @jamkar  Jan 26

    Great thread. And @kevinemmrich I agree. A little theory goes a long way. A lot of theory makes you a better conversationalist (musically).

  • @dzd  Jan 27

    I did have a frustrating conversation with a friend over the phone caused by a lack of the same terminology used a few months ago, but it just turned hilarious so no loss at all.

    I suppose no different than working or living anywhere you dont know the language.

  • @rickatfulcrum Jan 28

    If you never need to communicate your musical ideas clearly to your bandmates beyond spanking the plank and bashing the boards as a way of showing them your latest song, then you probably don't need music theory, nor might you need to know the proper way to scratch the dots onto the staff. But there's something to be said for being able to put a name to what you're hearing as you're analyzing a song in an attempt to learn it or steal some of its compositional moves.

  • @nikke88 Jan 28

    Do the same people also think, that knowing "Poetics" by Aristotle make people incapable of creating stories?

    Personally I think that knowing (even some basic) music theory opens a huge load of new possibilities to try on. It helps to understand why certain parts/tunes sound cool, it helps to learn (and understand) new musical stuff way faster, it makes explaining musical ideas way easier and so on. I can't really come up with any downsides with it. Except for me that I have started learning it way too late. I should have started it when I picked up the guitar for the first time 15 years ago. 😀

    If knowing "musical theory" restricts you to do the same stuff every time, well, you weren't much of a creator in a first place. Musical theory should be a servant, not a master.

  • @leepat  Jan 28

    @dzd funny you should mention other languages.
    Guthrie Govan does a great comparison of music to language (and theory to grammar) -
    Victor Wooten talks in the same vein, when he says he learned by doing (as young kids pick up language) - I forget which video that was...

  • @lowhum Jan 28

    The first rule of Gypsy Music Theory is there is no Gypsy Music Theory!

  • @elainedimasi  Jan 31

    I think we all understand and use some amount of "theory," and have stopped short of some other amount that is unappetizingly "too much." I was a piano student and a woodwind player in ensembles, so I have my levels of book learning, but I also stopped at certain boundaries - jazz, too many extra notes. Inferred chords in counterpoint, too puzzling, never get it right. Guitar, too many options, and, OW my hands and back! Whenever I powered through some lesson or other just a little past any of these, I got a very cool and memorable new piece of music written, but the "elastic" pushes back hard - real growth as a musician is slow for a hobbyist like myself, it seems!

  • @postcardhelicopters  Jan 31

    @elainedimasi - but some of those lessons you've learned you've passed on.

    I still remember a couple from you, specifically, that still hang around in my head when I'm working, so, thanks!

  • @elainedimasi  Feb 1

    @postcardhelicopters That's what FAWM is all about!

  • @cableonthetable Feb 1

    I dont know any theory myself.... just picked up a chord book the other day, hopefully its helps a bit

  • @scottlake Feb 1

    I know enough to be dangerous and not enough to improvise in a non clichéd way. I can say that back in the 80’s, knowing add2 and sus4 chords let me play Journey songs on the piano and that brought the girls to sit next to me on the piano bench. And stay. Add2 are still probably my go to chords!

  • @davidbreslin101  Feb 8

    I'm a complete magpie for music theory- tons of ideas from different versions of Western music theory are squirrelled away inside my head, plus some stuff from Asia. I get good use out of it, for troubleshooting songs, coming up up with new ideas, and adding variety to my style. Definitely do not feel it "inhibits" me in the slightest. (Now, as a PERFOMER, my grasp of formal "technique" is awful.)

    Meanwhile, one of my friends writes SERIOUSLY impressive piano parts for her songs without knowing the names of half the chords she uses. So there's room for all sorts.

    I'm not keen on the types who think that everything must "conform" to the strictest forms of classical music theory. That's ridiculous. Both the Kinks and Claude Debussy did just fine breaking the "rule" against parallel fifths! (Debussy, I might add, was conservatoire-trained.)

    I think of it like tools. There are a lot of different tools out there, and not everyone will want or need the same set. One person is going, "Tha

  • @wingandwaltz  Feb 8

    For me, music theory is a little like other universe-based systems; math, physics, etc.. Never excelled at knowing the deets, but some of us have an inherent sense of some of those concepts. I don't have to know the science of gravitational pull to use it. We need the people that break it down into less than "woo woo." It's good to know, it's imperative to keep trying to understand and dissect and and be able to regurgitate and communicate about these information systems, and we ALL use them, even Captain Beefheart 😉 It's a matter of levels of use; the facts are just there and if you're making music, you're making use of theory. If you got up this morning, you made use of gravity. You have a level of apprehension. You can know more if you want, and in your musical development, it's likely a bad idea to have a bad view of the mechanics just because your understanding is visceral. Jack Williams once said I have "a visceral connection with the guitar."(Wholly wow, that was a sacred moment.) Having said that, I also went through the Mel Bay Guitar Method from about ages 10-13. I don't remember a lot of details of what I learned and can't repeat those exercises by memory. We all learn differently and need different tools at various times; the KEY is to be OPEN. Be open to learning. Be open to the woo-woo, to the theory geeks. We're on the same team, same beautiful coin. WE are the highly valuable coin that is music. When you close yourself off, when you feel you've "achieved", when you nay-say, you can't grow and you close the karmic loop. Ouch. Be curious, be kind and welcoming. Have the faith of a child.

  • @lowhum Feb 10

    @scottlake Music Theory For Chicks To Stay - a new revised manual for piano, tuba and baglamadaki.
    In the end it's all about impressing someone. When no one is around - just impress yourself.

  • @kevinemmrich  Feb 10

    I showed the CAGED forms and the pentatonic scales is this thread:

  • @leepat  Mar 2

    heads up theorists - this thread now has its own song!
    spread the love!

  • @leepat  Mar 21

    thought I'd give this one a bump, in case someone wants to put an extra chord or two under their belt (what with all this time on our hands):

    stay safe!
    and let's keep looking for the chord that heals...

  • @rayboneor  Mar 24

    I'm gonna give this another bump. I have some time on my hands at the moment. Maybe it's time to learn slightly more than I know right now, which is just about nothing. Thanks!

  • @leepat  Mar 28

    that's cool @rayboneor
    let me know how it works for you!

  • @audrey  Apr 6

    I haven't read this entire thread, so I don't know if it's been mentioned already, but I found a free online music theory course for those with a basic understanding of music theory. It's on Coursera and is given by Marc Lowenstein of the California Institute of the Arts. It's called "Approaching Music Theory: Melodic Forms and Simple Harmony". Starts today April 6, 2020, so if you're staying at home and looking for something to do, you might want to check it out:
    I just signed up myself. Maybe I'll see some some of you in the forums there. 😀

  • @leepat  Apr 7

    thanks for the link @audrey
    I'm checking this out as we speak

  • @dzd  Apr 8

    @rayboneor yeah you better I think you need all the help you can get hahahah

  • @dzd  Apr 8

    also just bumping much as I agree/disagree with everything here hahah

  • @leepat  Apr 26

    and the post that started this thread coming in (at) last:

  • @dzd  Apr 26

    Nice write 😀
    Had an "English" teacher once, told me I was fucked/blessed Okies have kinda made good use of the queens english.

Leave a Message. Log in to FAWM or sign up first...