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Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Synesthete, Feb 23, 2016.
What theory/directions do you wish you would have learned/taken earlier?
I was a weird kid who was fascinated with music theory. But then again, I was also good at math. I wish I sang more growing up and joined choir in school.
Flamenco because of the different right hand techniques that are unique to that style..hard to pickup later in life..Same with learning to play fiddle,It's something you should start early in life because you have to put a lot of time into learning the technique.
Also I wish I wasn't so much into rock when I was younger and spent more time learning jazz. Again a big learning curve.
I didn't study ear training until I was in college. I wish I'd started in grade school. CS
learning the neck by chord progression in groups of three strings at a time
I wish I'd have studied intervals earlier. Meaning, for example, finding every D - F# interval on the fret board and switching between them rapidly.
I now tend to make up my own exercises.
Right now I'm playing a random G~B, then (a random) B~D than (a random) D~G... Then I start the random pattern on A... then start it on B ... then on C, etc. I try not to plan out ahead of time where I'm going. I just want to end up there spur of the moment.
It's really opened up my knowledge of the fret board and shows in my improv.
From the beginning, I wanted to know what was going on. Why did this sound similar to that? Why did the flow stop, only to restart again? How does that happen? In Good Vibrations, is the melodic walking-bass-type line, "I'm picking up good vibrations..." cheesy and out-of-place, is it mocking the other parts of the song, or does it even fit the song?
My parents gave me a Nick Manoloff chord wheel with my first guitar (Stella!), which showed the key relations of chords. I was fortunate to have been able to take a music theory class in high school, so that helped with some concrete info.
There seemed to be a wider variety of genres and styles that could be heard on TV and the radio, sometime between 1966 and 1969. After that, it seemed that each type of music had its own radio station and sections in record stores. But in 66-69, which happened to coincide with when I started guitar, I felt that to be a professional musician, I needed to be able to adapt and play in different styles. I didn't do it by copying songs off the record, which I had no patience for, and often felt that I could do it better my own way (yes, I really thought that way), but I was able to use my limited theory awareness to discern certain idiomatic patterns of chords and melodic motion.
When I developed a bad case of tendonitis (which persists, although I am finally wise enough to work with and around it), I decided to focus on composition and theory. That sent me into the classical, academic world, where Music Theory is a well-recognized discipline that has practically zilch in common with the way that theory is discussed in forums like this. Coming from a blues, rock, and jazz background, when I started college at age 21, I was woefully unprepared in terms of repertoire. But because I had a pretty solid understanding of harmony, I was able to recognize patterns, trends, and how chords worked in different types of music. While I was shaky on being able to name a piece played on a recording (or score), I was pretty good at determining the time period and composer.
While I had been using theory as a tool for identifying and analyzing aspects of a piece that intrigued and puzzled me, it was also capable of helping me listen to music in different ways. I was fortunate to have been introduced to the theories and analyses of Heinrich Schenker, a Viennese theorist who lived into the 1930s. It's hard for me to convey how important Schenker's theories were to my music listening, creating, and teaching. Everything changed, it seems now in hindsight, when I first laid eyes on an excerpt in a textbook of a Schenker analysis.
I also got into mathematical group theory, and co-founded the Journal of Music and Mathematics, in its 10th year of publication by Taylor and Francis. I use groups all the time in my compositions, teaching, and guitar practicing.
The problem with theory is that you cannot follow a discussion or analysis unless you have lightning recall of the notes and functions of chords and scales. It is not hard to learn the basics through drills, which I strongly recommend. But you will lose this info very, very quickly if you don't stay with the drills for at least a few years. It is also important to apply your knowledge to any music that you play and hear.
Any theoretical concept requires some practical work to make it 'real' and embedded in your practice -makes sense. You can throw playing, improvising, composing, transcribing, singing,score/sightreading/singing or any musicking along with the method you use into that bag of applications - the more of these you do the better. The important part is to reflect on what you do with whatever theoretical foundation you have - consistently.
I'm re- living this whole adventure as I start reading philosophy. Music theory even its more abstract versions seems like a walk in the park!
I started piano lessons at six or seven. I don't remember not knowing how to read music. I learned basic elements of theory from a piano teacher at 12 or 13. No regrets on the intellectual aspects of music.
My failing was not learning to relax and put my body into playing and singing and doing it with others. My rhythm sucked. I could not improvise. In the past few years,in late middle age, I've begun to loosen up, and I'm finding joy.
Oh yeah, piano for me, too. My grandmother had a piano, and I'd spend hours banging around on it. I kept bugging my parents to get a piano. Finally, my father took me to Sears and bought me a $20 guitar. Fifty years on and I'm still a guitar player. CS
I don't remember any of this, but a childhood story is that when I was 9 or 10, my dad and I happened to be driving somewhere, and there was a car ahead of us pulling a boat on a trailer. My dad asked if I'd like it if we got a boat. I replied that I'd rather get a piano.
Bless my folks, we did. I had so much fun on that thing, taking songs apart and changing keys and swapping out phrases with other songs.
I would have taken piano... Piano lessons teach you what you need to know about theory and has a very effective and proven method in place. It may be a little rigid for some, but that's why it works.
What I really regret is just running into the store and grabbing my first wife up off the shelf.. I'll be damn sure to look before I leap next time!
I really wish I had taken voice lessons when I was younger. Or heck, I wish I'd just studied harder when I was learning theory in college. Looking back, I was always biting off more than I could chew, and then ended up doing a mediocre job at everything. What a slacker!
I wish playing piano had been cooler in my early years. I woulda done that.