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Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by sax4blues, Jan 10, 2014.
Jumping off from the Bebop thead. By your own definition do you know music theory?
Define "knows theory". Shouldn't the question be "how much theory do you know"?
Yes, everyone that knows a chord is a "C" or an "E" knows some theory.
No one knows everything about theory.
It's where you fit in between that's the question! I know a fair amount, but there is so much more I don't know that I couldn't claim to "know" theory.
Define "knows theory". Shouldn't the question be "how much theory do you know"?
I agree with this statement. Most of my theory knowledge comes from 3 or 4 years of classical piano lessons as a kid which probably qualifies as more than your "hobbyist/bedroom"guitar play but a lot less than a jazz guy.
Seems to me there's a lot of territory in the space between yes and no. I'm in there.
How about setting a multiple choice quiz?
Pretty much whatever it turns out to be. I don't know it.
We are acquaintances. I'd like to be better friends with Theory, and while I think Theory is open to a mutualistic relationship, I've been getting the cold shoulder lately.
Woody Allen is helpful:
Yes... but I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.
So, I voted "Yes."
That said, I need to ask for help today to get my head around a song. You know what you know.
I'm able to find out every note on the fretboard by counting down the frets , slowly , according to the musical scale . c, d,e,f.g,a,h,c
Ain't that enough ?
My definition would be to know enough basic theory to be able to communicate with other musicians in a rehearsal setting.
Under that definition, I'd answer yes, I know theory.
Could I join in a discussion of theory with the likes of Ralph Towner and Keith Jarret ? I doubt it.
I assume we are talking music theory?
I'm in between "Yes" and "No", like everyone else is here, but probably less of most and more a than few. I've got my "Music Theory for Dummies" book, so I'll just say that I am a student of Music Theory ... and always will be.
What we're talking about (as has been stated before) is music fundamentals - semester 1 as a college or uni music major (or a high school AP class) ...
Chords (triads and 7th chords), scales (major/minor), intervals, key sigs (circle of 5ths/4ths), how to read notes and rhythms (to some degree) in treble and bass clef and the ability to hear at least the simple intervals: 5ths, M3 and m3.
Next comes harmony and maybe a wee bit of counterpoint (Bach). How do you put all that together to sound like music, both beautiful, ugly and all points in between? Can you make 4 voices move musically from I to IV to V to I ... and through a few keys?
When we talk about chord substitutions and voicings and resolutions, etc. and playing lines over chords this is harmony (and to some degree, rudimentary harmony) that we are referring to. The 'fundamental' stuff has to be already known to really grasp and use these tools. If you don't know *cold* your intervals, keys, triads and basic major scale harmony you will have no idea what a guy like Keith Jarrett or John Abercrombie is talking about. Can you enjoy listening to it? - of course. Can you figure it out, transcribe it? - sure but it's a lot easier if you know some basic music fundamentals. The added bonus is that if you do figure out some cool Keith Jarrett or McCoy Tyner chords or lines - if you understand basic harmony - you should be able to almost instantly transpose it as well as adapt it to other tunes, styles, etc. Again, this what they (good musicians) all do.
The APPLICATION of all that is what counts and where good composers and improvisors live, create and thrive.
*When you're really creative and not afraid to take risks you can do a whole lot with even just a little of the knowledge listed above.
Don't ever confuse one's inability to articulate the knowledge with them not 'knowing' it.
asking all of or some part of
There was a severe loss of application when individuals began letting others teach them by demonstration/instrument only. This means when you learn a song from the monkey see monkey do. you do not know theory. Yet as much and as easy as it is to learn this way its a matter of asking do you know application music theory. Defining that basics are a good start. If you are asking everyone do they know all there is to know about music theory then the real understanding of the question is definitely clearer. The depth of the question is about how much your personal experiences allow you to comphrehend an answer relative to your own depth.
To me, things we often refer to as theory, are fundamentals or rudiments. This is where most of the labels, name, and terminology are used to communicate, generalize, and categorize. Anyone can do this with a good teacher and/or book. Every question I would ask in this realm has a precise wrong/right answer. Keep this in mind.
Keeping the above in mind, I would like to say that any question that has more than one answer is a proper theory question. For example, in which major keys is the D minor chord found? Answer: C, F, Bb. Now, I'll change the wording a little bit: if the band is vamping on a D minor chords, what key is the most likely used by a soloist improvising? Answer: In blues, jazz, rock, funk, the key of C is the most frequently used. Good answer. However, if a guy standing next to me uses Bb major instead, it is also a good answer, or is it? In the absence of any other information, I think C major is the most commonly used. I can support this by finding a lot of examples that do this. Or, I can support Bb major if the other chords of the song are in Bb major. When I am in the key of Bb, playing a Bb major chord for a vamp will cause the least disruption to the flow of music. However, what if I do, in fact, want a feeling of disruption? Well, the key of C would give you a disruption as the notes Bb and Eb are not members of the C major scale.
It's not important here to find the best key in a situation like this. What is important is that my choice is influenced by how much of a shift in notes that I want. Another criterion is style. If I am soloing in the style of player John Doe, my awareness of how he makes such decisions will influence the choice I make.
I have to break off, here, before I have laid it all out a little better. But I hope the reader can see the difference between an answer that can only be answered one way, versus an answer that depends on a person's knowledge of styles and how they feel about disruption in music. The first paragraph is not about theory; it is simply a matter of learning spellings. The paragraphs that follow are very much about theory, for the simple fact that I have tried to make a case for which major scale should be used when vamping over a chord. This is what music theorists do all day long when they analyze music. Rote memorization of notes in keys, scales, and chords is something that someone who uses theory needs to have locked down before one is able to make arguments for which scale.
I have noticed many schools have changed course names; what in my day was "Intro to Music Theory" or Theory for Non Majors" is now often "Fundamentals of Music" or "The Basics of Songwriting".. usually is a combination of basic chords, scales etc. with work on developing, song structure, and perhaps a touch of arranging. (probably more useful to the average non major/minor that the two years of traditional "theory" I slogged thru.) Theory seems to have become very 'deep' especially at the undergraduate level,incorporating significant amounts of analysis going far beyond the basic part writing and elementary counterpoint that was the norm even 10-15 years ago.
Based on the standards of the mid '80s I consider myself to have a working knowledge. Based on what some of my younger colleagues are capable of, I need to hit the shed..
Answered No in the poll. Wow, until I read that I would have said "not a lick!"
I didn't even know enough to know how little I actually knew.