On-Line Music Theory (Specific to Guitar)

StoneH

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Has anyone learned to play lead (by ear; no music theory), and sometime later, decided to learn using music theory (practicing scales and such)? Given the advent of dozens of YouTube training videos, has anyone tried one they thought was worthwhile?

Thanks.
 

SRHmusic

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I played by ear for years but didn't really get some important things until I started playing attention to the chords and how scales relate to them.

A few suggestions for you: First learn about 'harmonizing the major scale,' which is a fancy way to describe figuring out which chords (at least the triads) come from it. This is very important. Then, optionally learn about relative minor scales, and then the blues scale, which shows up a lot.

At that point you can go far by just paying attention to what is happening in songs you like: figure out the chord progression, then what notes are being played over each of the chords. This is what I wish someone had pointed out to me long ago.

You can also try out some TrueFire courses. Jeff McErlain's Chord Tone Soloing course is really good for this.
 
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T-Bone

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There really isn’t a music theory “specific to guitar”. It’s the same for every instrument. That being said, the fretboard and the way you tune, IS specific to guitar. So the way forward is to know all the notes on your fretboard. IE/ the name of the notes at each fret under the string.

Then, at least for learning, you need to toss away all your tabbed music, and think about notes as notes, rather than fret positions, and chords as constructed from notes, rather than shapes.

With that out of the way you can personalize your learning using the online videos and resources that make the most sense for the kind of music you like to play.

if you’ve been playing a while you probably know a lot more theory than you think you know already. Just a matter of thinking a little differently about what you already know from experience.
 

gimmeatele

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Obviously not online, but the dummies guide to guitar theory is a great book, I learned so much from that, easily understood and well explained music theory for guitar.
 

Cesspit

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Once after a gig, this guy approached me and started talking on how he had enjoyed my playing, saying he liked my use of various modes and scales. All very technical and way above my head. I told him I played what sounded right to me and what I liked. He was shocked and didn't believe I was ignorant of music theory, I still am.

I learnt and play by ear, don't know squat about theory but I find it ironic how by accident, I 'do' the theory. (According to this chap anyway). I'm to old and stupid to learn now, but I would recommend anyone interested to learn the theory as it is the one guitar regret I have after all these years.
 

Kandinskyesque

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Has anyone learned to play lead (by ear; no music theory), and sometime later, decided to learn using music theory (practicing scales and such)? Given the advent of dozens of YouTube training videos, has anyone tried one they thought was worthwhile?

Thanks.
Great question. I've a rudimentary understanding around the basic chords but for the past 10 years have been learning a how to play a great deal of the great American songbook type songs by Gershwin, Berlin etc which opened me up into a whole new world of chords.

I'd love to learn the theory behind it all.
On the plus side I excelled in mathematics at school and university but have never been able to read music without great difficulty due to my form of dyslexia; the notes seem to move around the stave.

I'm been trying to experiment with coloured notes on the stave and so far I think I might be on to something.
 

AAT65

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As @T-Bone says, theory isn't really guitar-specific. However once you know the fretboard (what note-name for every fret on each string) then you have in your hand a very useful intervals calculator! (Avoid the G-B till you're ready for it😄):
Up one string? A 4th.
Down one string? A 5th.
Up two strings (from E or A)? A 7th (= 4-of-4).
Up one string and up two frets? A 5th.
Up one string and down one fret? A major 3rd.
Up one string and down two frets? A minor 3rd.

And of course ... G-B is a major 3rd.

You don't even need to know the interval names, you can use the same "calculator" to do transpositions. Someone asks you to play the capo-VII Hotel California part. Well a Bm can be played as a barre chords at VII so let the capo do the barring and now your Bm is an Em. B-E is just up one string, so the rest go the same way: F# -- B, D -- G, A -- E, G - C etc etc.
 

DekeDog

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As @T-Bone says, theory isn't really guitar-specific. However once you know the fretboard (what note-name for every fret on each string) then you have in your hand a very useful intervals calculator! (Avoid the G-B till you're ready for it😄):
Up one string? A 4th.
Down one string? A 5th.
Up two strings (from E or A)? A 7th (= 4-of-4).
Up one string and up two frets? A 5th.
Up one string and down one fret? A major 3rd.
Up one string and down two frets? A minor 3rd.

And of course ... G-B is a major 3rd.

You don't even need to know the interval names, you can use the same "calculator" to do transpositions. Someone asks you to play the capo-VII Hotel California part. Well a Bm can be played as a barre chords at VII so let the capo do the barring and now your Bm is an Em. B-E is just up one string, so the rest go the same way: F# -- B, D -- G, A -- E, G - C etc etc.

This. One of the first things I learned from my instructor was intervals and how they fall on the fretboard. From there, chord theory and arpeggios. From there, the major scales. It is also critical to memorize note names on all frets. These are the baby steps. I'm not aware of any YouTube that explains this. YouTube lessons usually move too fast for me, and it may take a year to be comfortable just learning those few things.
 

teletail

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Playing scales isn’t music theory. I’m not what “and such” is. If you want to learn music theory, find a qualified teacher. Any idiot with a camera can put a video on YouTube … and they do.
 

loopfinding

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the way that blues based popular music like rock, blues, some r&b, etc are set up, it's basically like you're bowling with bumpers on. as long as you pick the right pentatonic, you just throw. i guess why a lot of people out there feel you don't need theory is because of this.

but once you get into country or soul or jazz (or whatever outside of rock), that approach doesn't really fly anymore. you need to know how the figures you're playing fit over the chords. the guys who did not study theory formally in those days were basically figuring out their own schemas for theory. learning phrases and chords from playing others' music and where to use them over what.

learn your parent major, melodic minor, harmonic minor scales to start. learn the intervals and chords in them, and arpeggios for those chords. don't learn modes, learn the parent scales (major, melodic/harmonic minor) and know how the parent scale relates to each of the chords in the scale (e.g. if you're on a Dm7, and it goes to G7, you're going to want to work from a C major scale...no need to learn a million mode positions). this is the most important step.

then start looking at chord progressions in like jazz, 60s nashville stuff, burt bacharach, soul, etc. - whatever has a little more meat than some rock that catches your fancy. start seeing how those chords from the scale, or their substitutions fit into the whole progression. just the ii-V-I sequence alone holds a lot of keys to a lot of different kinds of music.

then learn other people's licks over progressions, and the chords they're moving over - it's important to know why those notes are in those places. then figure out what your own favorite choices are over each chord or short sequence of chords. start creating a mental inventory of those "tricks" you can do over chords, and start recognizing the same chord patterns in other songs in other keys where you can apply them. try to figure out songs as chord melody all on guitar, any genre.

i've known a decent amount of theory on paper since i was teen, but it wasn't until i started getting it under my fingers like that (parent scales, arps & chords in them, learning people's solos, trying to make everything a chord melody) in my 20s until anything really clicked. learning the parent scales + intervals and chords in them is something you can find really anywhere online. get that under your fingers and then the rest will fall into place.
 

stormsedge

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After paying for Truefire for two years and using it three times...I've decided to let it lapse. ((My fault, I know)). 🤣😂
 

StoneH

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I am coming back after a long layoff and thought I would add some formal music theory. By "Specific to guitar", I mean the instructor uses the guitar to demonstrate the theory. In cover bands, I played keyboards almost as long as guitar, so I'm comfortable with either, but I will apply it through guitar first. I picked up the basics because it's hard to miss the patterns. . . drop the 3rd a half step and you get a minor chord . . . play a keyboard lead in A and you're going to hit 3 sharps . . . etc.

I've read a couple of chapters in a theory book. I understand intervals, stacking intervals, relative scales (another pattern you notice when you play the "same" lead in C and Am), and I'm sure I'll see more theory that I already understand from a practical perspective (if you play a "rock" lead a few frets down it becomes a "country" lead . . . what's that called in music theory?)

I'm not looking to become a student of music theory, but I hope to identify some low hanging fruit that might improve my (lead) guitar playing in the short term (before my age catches up with me). If formal music theory isn't what I need, what about learning/practicing scales and arpeggios . . . is that more bang for the buck?

Thanks.
 




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