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I am completely musically illiterate.


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  • #31
    It does help to know some theory.

    I've never had a lesson but have exchanged knowledge with fellow 6 stringers here and in real life, it all helps.

    Learning the pentatonic (minor and major, it's the same), major and harmonic minor scales are so helpful.
    You don't need to know all the notes on the nek, just remember the patterns to play. It will give you SO MUCH FUN!

    Once you know those, it's handy to learn which chords go well with those scales.

    I don't really need to go a lot deeper than that to have learnt a lot.
    Then it's all about technic.

    It's worth remembering that gipsy jazz was learnt within travelling groups, and none of them knew how to read music.
    But they knew how to play.
    Ant the Les Paul Lover!


    • #32
      Many of the pioneers of guitar playing didn't know **************** about theory. Many jazz musicians couldn't read music and played on feel.

      That being said, unless you're THAT talented, you need to learn more about music. At least learn the first 3 strings and where the notes are, you'll be able to figure the rest out by octaves.


      Learn to recognize what note and chord is being played (within reason)

      Then, use that little bit of theory to communicate and write.
      dharmaforone.bandcamp.comListen to my music and such.Strat - Jazzmaster - Bunch of fuzz and delay pedals - map.


      • #33
        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?

        I was thinking about your draconian statement and decided the best response is "Watch Zorba The Greek:
        A '57 Classic, MIJ from USA parts.
        HCEG Existentialism: I buy guitars, therefore, I am.
        Well Dick, it's got a good beat, and I could dance to it, so I give it a 10!
        I have opinions of my own,strong opinions but I don't always agree with them.


        • #34
          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
          I took all of one lesson. The rest was realizing that I needed this knowledge and dedicating some time to acquiring it. And so can anybody. All I ask is that I can tell you to play a string of chords, and you can play them. If not, at least look at my fingers and figure out what I'm playing. The former is knowing basic music theory. The latter is having practical knowledge of music theory but not necessarily knowing the names for everything. You've got to have one or the other, though.

          Really, though, American culture (I realize you're in Canada but the attitude is similar) is really bad about the whole thing where some people need to be told what they need to be told. If you see yourself playing with other people, you have to realize that you're going to be judged by your abilities and that nobody really gives a **************** about your feelings at the end of the day. The way I see it, people have a few things that really factor into a musical group. If you can't write songs, you can't play that well, you can't sing well, and then you also can't lead or follow well, then why the hell should I keep you around if someone better comes along? Just because you're my friend doesn't mean I won't upgrade you in a musical setting. And that's how the world works.

          You don't have to be a genius, but if you can do a few things pretty well, soon enough you start being hard to replace. So become hard to replace, I say. Learn to play decently. Learn a couple other instruments. Sing backup. Help with lyrics. Be on time and responsible. If you can't follow along to what others are playing, then write your own stuff. If you're not musically gifted, then learn the gear well so you can be a tech/engineer and help cut demos and run the mixer and stuff like that. If you can't do anything that involves thinking, become a social butterfly and know everybody and anybody so you can help others land gigs and get laid. Do something. Don't be happy with just being a replaceable part.
          Electrics: Fender '73 Mustang RI, Epiphone Inspired by John Lennon Casino, Gibson 60s Tribute Les Paul Studio, Daisy Rock Retro-H Deluxe, Squier Hello Kitty Strat x2Acoustics: Taylor 316CE-LTD, Seagull Entourage Rustic CW QITBasses: Squier Badtz Maru Bronco Bass, Aria CSB-300, Fender Mustang Bass RIAmps: Vox TB18C1, Vox Pathfinder 210, Peavey Transtube Envoy, Ampeg Micro VR StackMy Band: http://mittensband.com


          • #35
            check out Fretboard Logic books or the CAGED method.

            I played with a guy who majored in music so he knew a lot of theory, it just made things easier. I would be playing something and he would be able to know what I was trying to do whereas I would take some time to work it out.

            Knowing theory helps but a lot of it pertains only to classical.

            52RI Tele
            Gibson SG 1970s Tribute
            more stuff:
            65 Twin Reverb Reissue
            Cox Tweed Deluxe Ultimate

            The REAL Angry


            • #36
              That's fine, but in that case, whatever. Most people who are content to sit around and play by themselves probably don't ever need to communicate their ideas to other people and probably don't need theory.

              Watch "Zorba The Greek"
              A '57 Classic, MIJ from USA parts.
              HCEG Existentialism: I buy guitars, therefore, I am.
              Well Dick, it's got a good beat, and I could dance to it, so I give it a 10!
              I have opinions of my own,strong opinions but I don't always agree with them.


              • #37
                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?

                There's an app for that . Actually there are several apps for that.


                • #38
                  This book by Jim Aiken has the best explanation of basic harmony theory that I have seen, it is very clearly written.

                  "In a time of universal deceit - telling the truth is a revolutionary act."- George Orwell

                  My music: http://www.oranjproductions.com

                  The first website dedicated to the the baritone guitar: http://www.thebaritoneguitar.com


                  • #39
                    You don't HAVE to know any theory - most of the old bluesmen didn't know a thing - but a little understanding of the fundamentals can help a lot. Goo music doesn't always have to make sense (see Adrian Belew ) but good music nearly always does make sense. You can learn what you need from a few well chosen books and by playing and listening. If you can grock how it works you may find yourself playing more freely and creatively. It can't hurt
                    (Tubefox) I can't decide if I like it. I mean, I'm a fan of obscenely pointy guitars but...It looks like a cross between a flying V, a horseshoe, a viking axe, and an anorexic teenage girl.

                    Go here for my guitar pr0n. Warning: not safe for GAS-o-holics!


                    • #40
                      I think it's fun and interesting to learn music theory, and it's expanded my playing immensely. The more I learn the more I enjoy playing music, and the better I get. Just learning the basic modes of the major scale, and how to make a 7th or 9th chord payed tremendous dividends way in my bar band days, even though I don't think I really considered that "music theory."

                      If you've got Jeff Beck's ears, mind, hands and talent you don't need to know any music theory. For me it's been extremely useful to learn. Do you need it? No. Is it good to know? Yes. Whether or not you learn any theory depends what you want to do with your playing and how good your ears are, but it's sure not going to hurt.

                      Is there a different between the harmonic minor and the relative minor? I kind of hate how open they are with the terms. I.E: from what I remember from various reading materials they called A minor C major's relative minor or harmonic minor.
                      The relative minor is a way of saying "this is a minor scale with the exact same notes as the major scale". For example, C D E F G A B C is the C major scale. Its relative minor is A B C D E F G A. A (natural) minor is the relative minor of C major. The harmonic minor is a separate scale - it's a natural minor scale with a raised 7th (ex: A B C D E F G#). Note there are several "minor" scales" - the natural minor, the harmonic minor, the melodic minor... sometimes people aren't clear which one they're talking about.
                      Multiple award winning blues/rock/country at http://www.zeyerband.com or http://www.reverbnation.com/zeyer.Check my solo (instrumental rock) projects at: http://www.reverbnation.com/vincedickinson"Music is like the English language - it's just full of rules that need to be broken or you aren't hip.""It doesn't take talent to upgrade your playing. It takes patience" - Kenny Werner


                      • #41
                        You don't need advanced musical language to communicate. I played in bands with mostly self taught musicians as a youth and we'd follow along fine. We all knew chords so we could say "the bridge is G for 4 counts, then A for four counts then Em for 8 counts" and if we got lost just watch the other guys hands.

                        I just finished this great book all about the science of music and how the brain processes it and whatnot. The author mentioned a conversation he had with Joni mitchell about jaco pastorious. She said that he was a really difficult human being but she preferred to work with him because he was so free with his accompaniment. The author said that Joni Mitchell, having no theory knowledge used weird tunings and fingerings and consequently a lot of her chords were in ambiguous keys, they could Be interpreted in different ways. She complained that the studio musicians, especially bassists, she worked with were so adamant about finding the correct root note and the correct key, it detracted from her music.
                        Overdone, Overdrive, Over-live, Override


                        • #42
                          I would learn where all the notes are on the fretboard (it won't take too long, there are only 12 notes) and two to three scales (major, pentatonic, minor). It will improve your playing a lot. It is important, to deviate from the scales once you know them or your playing will seem choreographed.

                          PS Modes are just the major scale moved up and down the fretboard so you'll know many if you learn the major. Pentatonic can be played with almost anything.
                          MIA Fender Strat / Gibson Les Paul Studio / Custom Telecaster / Washburn WI66 / Custom Stratocaster / Martin D15S / Guild D55 / Simon & Patrick Cedar / Martin HD16R LSH​


                          • #43
                            It's kind of useful that if someone says "This next one is in Bbmaj" you actually know what that means and can do it. If someone asks you to play a Fmin7 chord it's always nice to understand and to be able to play it. It's not like it's difficult either but it does help to understand the basics. You don't have to have a masters degree in music, just some understanding of the basic principles should be enough for starters anyway.
                            "Born to Play" MP3 album at iTunes & Amazon.


                            • #44
                              I think one of the things that hold people back from learning theory and being able to read music notation is that it is often portrayed as being difficult. It is not that difficult. Let me explain it this way.

                              I once built a house pretty much by myself. People always asked me how I did it. I told them one step at a time. One wall then another and another, then the roof, etc.

                              It is the same with music; you learn one step at a time. First the notes on the first three strings in the first position (the first four frets) then the three low strings in the first position. Then sharps, flats, rests, etc. One thing just follows another. It takes time but it's interesting. And when you start to understand what that fret board is really all about and the light goes on, hey, it's some kinda wonderful and you realize that, all that time and effort was not only worth it but really rewarding too.
                              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#


                              • #45
                                Please remember, though, not everyone is the same or has the same amount of time, money or aptitude.

                                True, but this stuff can be learned, for free, on the internet.
                                American Special Stratocaster, Yamaha SA-503 TVL, Telecaster, Partscaster, Peavey Classic 30