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I am completely musically illiterate.

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  • #16
    I'm not going to jump in somewhere and tell people what they do need, or don't need to know about anything, much less guitar or music. If you're playing your guitar, and it feels good and it sounds good, then on.

    However, knowing some theory has helped me IMMENSELY musically. It gives you a common language in which to a) converse with other musicians who play different instruments, and b)converse with YOUR instrument in a way that makes sense. Sure, you could randomly bang around and figure things out, learn some patterns that repeat up and down the neck - that's fine, no harm, you can get quite good doing just that. You can devour books/tutorials/tab sheets and learn stuff that way as well.

    But, you can also learn WHY things sound the way the sound, what chords are called what and why, and with (a lot of) practice you can actually hear things in your head and know them before actually playing them.

    Anyway, most of us are hobbyist players anyway. Some of us play in weekend bands, some have loftier gigs, whatever. Do what works for you and most importantly make some music.
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    • #17
      I learned by ear; I can read tab, but all those dots & squiggly lines confuse me, LOL...
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      • #18
        i learned one scale in one key and where the notes on the fretboard are in about two weeks.

        my playing improved by 100% after that.






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        Don't take me seriously,unless you're offended....................bitch!Don't frickin' worry about it!.....its a "catch&release"plan

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        • #19
          I have no idea where some people think it's OK to know no theory at all. It's fine if you're the only songwriter in your group and you're expecting other people to emulate you, but people like that are extremely frustrating to work with for people like me and will be replaced at first opportunity unless they're contributing in other valuable ways because they slow other people down. I want to be able to say, the chord progression is D major, C major, F major, G major, and have you figure out something you can play. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it should work.

          I think it's not that important to know modes and all that crap because let's face it, most people won't need it. But when you play a note, you should know which note you're playing. Conversely, when someone tells you to play a note, you should be able to play that note. You should also know the other places where that note can be found on the fretboard. That's not the theory you think of in terms of classes, but I just think it's practical knowledge that any serious guitarist should have or seek to have. I've been playing guitar for just over four years now and I know what note I'm playing and I know at least five different ways to play a C major chord, so what's everyone else's excuse?


          You are absolutely right. Please remember, though, not everyone is the same or has the same amount of time, money or aptitude. It's better to encourage others on the positive reasons why theory and reading music is good for them, rather than intimating that those that don't know as much in this area are less intelligent, motivated etc. In the end, that will be more motivating and encouraging to them, don't you think? Regards, Steadfastly
          Foul language is the sign of a weak mind trying to express itself forcibly. * Thankfully, my computer program masks all the foul language and changes it to @&%)7#

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          • #20
            Use the Lesson Loft

            A lot of assistance to be had there.

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            • #21
              I have no idea where some people think it's OK to know no theory at all. It's fine if you're the only songwriter in your group and you're expecting other people to emulate you, but people like that are extremely frustrating to work with for people like me and will be replaced at first opportunity unless they're contributing in other valuable ways because they slow other people down. I want to be able to say, the chord progression is D major, C major, F major, G major, and have you figure out something you can play. It doesn't have to be perfect, but it should work.

              I think it's not that important to know modes and all that crap because let's face it, most people won't need it. But when you play a note, you should know which note you're playing. Conversely, when someone tells you to play a note, you should be able to play that note. You should also know the other places where that note can be found on the fretboard. That's not the theory you think of in terms of classes, but I just think it's practical knowledge that any serious guitarist should have or seek to have. I've been playing guitar for just over four years now and I know what note I'm playing and I know at least five different ways to play a C major chord, so what's everyone else's excuse?



              Well for some, playing with others isn't part of the equation. if all you are doing is sitting around playing in your living room for your own enjoyment then it doesn't really seem like an issue if they don't know any music theory.

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              • #22
                I probably know the least about music than anyone on the Harmony Central forum.

                I've noodled with guitars since the late 1960's and barely know the names of all six strings on a standard guitar. I've even dumped standard tunings for open tunings, that way I don't need to remember all those nasty three-fingered+ chord formations.

                I never play with other people or sing, so I don't care what key I'm in....if I'm even in a key, which I'm generally not.

                I'm not proud of my musical ignorance...but I quit caring about it a decade or two ago, and now I'm mostly just amused by it.

                My life doesn't revolve around music and I'm content to not hear it most of the time. I almost never listen to music radio at work, can't stand 'classic rock', and several years ago, drove from Rapid City, SD. to Chattanooga, TN. and back and didn't turn the radio on or play a CD once during the entire trip.

                It's an ironic trick of nature that I've found an odd little niche as a guitar designer...but what the hell, I've heard that 'Leo' didn't play guitar at all.

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                • #23
                  I honestly don't know how those of you who claim to know no theory get by. That's not a put down btw, i just dont understand - how for instance do you transpose a song to a different key if you don't understand the function of the chords or progression? How do you pass musical information on to another if you play with others? I understand that You could figure out a lot of stuff on your own, but imho it makes life a hell of a lot easier to have a language for it, to knoww the formal system, whether one follow it or not.

                  That isn't to say that my knowledge is even remotely encyclopedic. In fact i probably don't know that much in the greater scheme of things but even a basic understanding of harmony, chord and scale construction etc go a long long way

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                  • #24
                    I honestly don't know how those of you who claim to know no theory get by. That's not a put down btw, i just dont understand - how for instance do you transpose a song to a different key if you don't understand the function of the chords or progression? How do you pass musical information on to another if you play with others? I understand that You could figure out a lot of stuff on your own, but imho it makes life a hell of a lot easier to have a language for it, to knoww the formal system, whether one follow it or not.


                    first and foremost, I suppose that it really helps to give a ****************...which I don't. Of course my lax attitude towards this sort thing may be one of the reasons I'm a lousy-to- mediocre guitar player. I can live with that.

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                    • #25
                      If you can count from 1 to 7, and know the ABCs up to G, you already have the basic foundation of theory learned. It's not absolutely necessary to understand theory, but it sure helps! It can also actually be fun to learn it, with the right attitude.
                      I'm just sayin'

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                      • #26
                        ............with the right attitude.


                        Maybe that's my problem!

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                        • #27
                          I'm not going to jump in somewhere and tell people what they do need, or don't need to know about anything, much less guitar or music. If you're playing your guitar, and it feels good and it sounds good, then on.

                          However, knowing some theory has helped me IMMENSELY musically. It gives you a common language in which to a) converse with other musicians who play different instruments, and b)converse with YOUR instrument in a way that makes sense. Sure, you could randomly bang around and figure things out, learn some patterns that repeat up and down the neck - that's fine, no harm, you can get quite good doing just that. You can devour books/tutorials/tab sheets and learn stuff that way as well.

                          But, you can also learn WHY things sound the way the sound, what chords are called what and why, and with (a lot of) practice you can actually hear things in your head and know them before actually playing them.

                          Anyway, most of us are hobbyist players anyway. Some of us play in weekend bands, some have loftier gigs, whatever. Do what works for you and most importantly make some music.


                          +1000 with wagdog

                          I was a similar boat as the OP. Lessons made a huge difference to me because I don't have a good ear nor have any innate musical talent. If you do lessons might not be for you but for me it opened up a whole world musically that was bared from me prior to taking the lessons. Even though I can now play in any key I still take lessons to get help on those things I still struggle with (timing, jazz chords :P etc). Music does not come naturally to me so I believe I will always need help to move forward.
                          Originally Posted by Frets99
                          I held one note through the whole thing and grimaced like I was being taken from behind by a camel.....



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                          • #28
                            Sometimes I have to tell our keyboard player things like "It goes to a Dm7b5 ...."

                            Or I have to tell the drummer "Play 16th notes on the high-hat when we go to the bridge...."

                            Or I have to tell the bass player "The intro is a I - vi - ii - V progression in A"

                            Things go a lot smoother and quicker when they know exactly what I'm saying, and no further explanation is necessary.
                            "Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans..."
                            - John Lennon
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                            • #29
                              I"m with the OP as. I can read tab, know all of the major chords, know a majority of the bar chords (still working on progressions on those though), and I"m just getting into shredding. I know nothing about music theory. If I could do college over again, I"d be a music major because I want to know some music theory. If you listen to a Paul Gilbert lesson video, the man is a master of music theory, but is that level of knowledge necessary to be really good at guitar? I can't answer that since technically I'm still a beginner but one of the posts said that guitar is all about feeling and listening for the notes, to know what a C major sounds like. I think I you have that down, you're headed in the right direction.
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                              • #30
                                Sometimes I have to tell our keyboard player things like "It goes to a Dm7b5 ...."

                                Or I have to tell the drummer "Play 16th notes on the high-hat when we go to the bridge...."

                                Or I have to tell the bass player "The intro is a I - vi - ii - V progression in A"

                                Things go a lot smoother and quicker when they know exactly what I'm saying, and no further explanation is necessary.


                                Guess that leaves me out! ()

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