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An alternative to theory

Discussion in 'Tab & Music Forum' started by guitarface, Mar 7, 2018.

  1. guitarface

    guitarface Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 11, 2012
    New York
    Title is misleading. This is not really an alternative to theory. Rather, it is just a slightly different approach to having fun on the guitar. At least I think its a little different. At the end of the day, its all just different ways to describe the same thing. Our resident professors of theory, @fezz parka and @davidKOS, and many others, have always been very generous and very helpful. They know way more than me. Just thought I'd toss out something that has worked for me.

    Rather than thinking in terms of scales and chords, I focus on intervals. Same thing, I suppose, just a different way of thinking of them. Intervals, plus ear training- I try to learn where they are on the guitar, and what they sound like in my head. That way, I hear a sound in my head that I want to make, then I can make it on the guitar. There's a successive interval, like do mi, a third, which you can think of as relating to a scale, or there's playing the do and the mi at the same time, which you can think of as a chord. I like to learn how each of them sound. And then when I want to figure out a song I say oh, that sounds a fourth, a sixth, etc. It doesn't get you all the way there, but it helps. Justin has a useful ear training course up on his channel these days for anyone whose interested.

    Just some food for thought on a snowy day.
     
    Artunes, davidKOS, Omar and 2 others like this.

  2. fezz parka

    fezz parka Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 21, 2011
    ₩¥€£§μГ
    Intervals become scales. Harmonizing intervals make chords.
    Harmonizing scales make chord progressions.

    It's all integrated.
     
    Nate D, Bumu, davidKOS and 5 others like this.

  3. albala

    albala Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 10, 2012
    stamford, CT
    theory is there to make sense of the sounds and their relationships to one another

    a complete musician uses them simultaneously

    plenty of people can speak but can't read and that limits on their vocabulary
     
    davidKOS likes this.

  4. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    Age:
    59
    May 21, 2010
    Sheffield, UK
    Here's the only real alternative to theory.

    no.jpg
     

  5. rocknrollrich

    rocknrollrich Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    47
    Jan 8, 2016
    philadelphia
    That's a familiar looking pose.
    I see it every day when I arrive at work.
     
    stratomatt, davidKOS and Thrup'ny Bit like this.

  6. Paperback Rocker

    Paperback Rocker Nitro-mancer Strat-Talk Supporter

    Sep 18, 2014
    Lewisville, TX
    Intervals, scales, arpeggios, chords, etc.

    If you copied them on transparencies like teachers used to do, you could lay them right on top of each other on the fretboard.

    Many ways of looking at the same things. The more ways you know, the more fluent you can become on your instrument.
     
    davidKOS, rocknrollrich and Ebidis like this.

  7. davidKOS

    davidKOS Musician, Composer, Teacher Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012
    California
    You cannot go wrong with ear training and learning intervals! more below.....

    right on....if you do not know a word, you can't use it, even in thinking.

    If you do not know a musical concept, you can't use it while playing.

    and the more fluent you are, the better you can express your feeling in music
     
    albala, Nate D and Omar like this.

  8. davidKOS

    davidKOS Musician, Composer, Teacher Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012
    California
    One more comment on the need for knowing intervals.

    All melodies are made up of intervals. When improvising, if you know your intervals, you can find those melody lines you hear in your head - they are just a string of intervals.

    One good trick is to associate each interval with some famous song that uses that interval:

    https://flypaper.soundfly.com/tips/interval-cheat-sheet-songs-to-help-you-remember-common-intervals/

    https://www.musical-u.com/learn/interval-reference-songs-that-youve-actually-heard-of/
     

  9. Bumu

    Bumu Strat-Talk Member

    Age:
    28
    78
    Feb 4, 2018
    Bavaria
    The more you learn, the more you will want to learn. So it's a really good thing to have a special topic you found great interest in and I am pretty sure you will go for the "whole" picture soon. I don't really get Math, but I know people speak of it as being "beautiful". Thinking of music theory, I get a feeling what people mean by it.
     
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  10. Nate D

    Nate D Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    38
    Apr 2, 2016
    Ohio
    This is some really cool stuff here!!!
     
    davidKOS likes this.

  11. Nate D

    Nate D Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    38
    Apr 2, 2016
    Ohio
    Yep. You’ve gotta know theory. In my opinion the point is to know theory well enough that you’re not thinking about it. Much like learning the “cowboy chords” took time and practice when you first picked up a guitar (and, in my case sounded clunky for he first few weeks) such is the application of your theory.

    Intervals are exceptionally important and are very much a part of theory. :)

    @guitarface keep at it!!!
     
    T Guitar Floyd and davidKOS like this.

  12. roger@pennyflic

    roger@pennyflic Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    60
    Jul 4, 2013
    melbourne
    I dont know any theory. I just see patterns.
     

  13. thebowl

    thebowl Strat-Talk Member

    84
    Apr 9, 2014
    New Jersey
    This, plus, the more you learn, the more what you know builds onto itself. It becomes easier, which doesn't mean that that you approach the end of the journey. The journey has no end. You just build up speed as you travel.
     
    Bumu likes this.

  14. davidKOS

    davidKOS Musician, Composer, Teacher Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012
    California

    In all respect, is that a comment about patterns in music , like we referred to in other threads as visual patterns on the fretboard (sonic shapes)?

    Or is that a comment about being proud not to know any theory?

    If so, the first is a valid part of guitar playing and conceptualizing sounds.

    If the second is true, well, why post on a theory thread just to say you don't know any? Do you want to learn theory?

    I'm just curious what you mean by that comment before I overreact.
     
    T Guitar Floyd likes this.

  15. davidKOS

    davidKOS Musician, Composer, Teacher Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012
    California
    exactly! If you have to stop and think about theory while playing, forget about it! You'll be late all the time.
     
    fezz parka and Nate D like this.

  16. fezz parka

    fezz parka Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 21, 2011
    ₩¥€£§μГ
    What do you hear? Yes, it's a real question. :)
     
    T Guitar Floyd likes this.

  17. montemerrick

    montemerrick spiritual birthday, April 1 Strat-Talk Supporter

    this guy has a nice way of laying out the intersection of the ideas of theory and the vibe of intervals:

     
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  18. roger@pennyflic

    roger@pennyflic Senior Stratmaster

    Age:
    60
    Jul 4, 2013
    melbourne
    Does that mean you are going to overreact no matter what I post. If anyone is up for a serious discussion then I am in, but I certainly don't want to get into anything heated.

    I don't believe the post is about theory. It is headed "An alternative to theory" and I wanted to give the original poster a bit of balance and suggest that yes, there is an alternative to theory.

    . I cannot see that it is the answer to any failings I personally have as a guitarist.

    I have no idea what this means

    Why would someone be proud of NOT knowing something.

    Not sure what you mean but I am happy to elaborate if you consider this a discussion (and not an argument) :)
     
    davidKOS likes this.

  19. davidKOS

    davidKOS Musician, Composer, Teacher Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 28, 2012
    California
    I do consider this a discussion, not an argument.

    First, the OP called it "An alternative to theory", but he was really making a great point about using intervals themselves. If you read my comments about that, I was quite supportive.

    Second, as to "failings I personally have as a guitarist." I listened to your slide guitar track post and that sounds great. Obviously you hear things and can play. No criticism there, and I play and love slide guitar.

    3rd, about sonics shapes - "I have no idea what this means" -

    We've been talking about the great guitarist/teacher Howard Roberts. One of his concepts was that as guitar player we see "patterns" on our fingerboard, and these patterns all have a characteristic sound - hence the term sonic shapes.

    Example - the shape of a simple F chord on strings 1-4 has a sound; that same shape moved up and down the neck has a sound at each fret - different notes, same chord.

    Move over to strings 2-5, and that same shape is now an augmented triad. Same shape, new sound.

    So when you said "I don't know any theory. I just see patterns." I was wondering is this is the sort of pattern you see.

    "Why would someone be proud of NOT knowing something."

    So why get on a theory thread and proclaim you don't know theory. That certainly does not make me confident in your knowledge of the subject, or at least makes me wonder what you point was. Theory is not important?

    So sorry if I ruffled feathers, but I take music, guitar, theory, teaching, etc. seriously. I think you do too, and we may me more in agreement than you realize.
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018
    T Guitar Floyd likes this.

  20. montemerrick

    montemerrick spiritual birthday, April 1 Strat-Talk Supporter

    heated discussions are why we have ridicule vegetarian threads! :D
     
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2018