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Theory VS Feeling

Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by MayerFan, Sep 8, 2011.

  1. MayerFan

    MayerFan Strat-O-Master

    Apr 8, 2011
    Okay. Let's have a gentleman's debate, we all know the battle of Theory VS Feeling.

    In one corner, Theory: technical knowledge of chords, scales, modes, harmonies. Relying on theoretical musical knowledge to create some truly great music.

    In the other corner, Feeling: using your gut and raw emotion to let the music shine through and create music.

    What do you think? Does one need theoretical knowledge or only need to 'feel' it to create a masterpiece?
  2. louis cyfer

    louis cyfer i know nothing

    Oct 2, 2010
    the 2 are not exclusive. theory and mechanical skills just let you express what is in your head better. you need both.
    Mr. Grabby and Mansonienne like this.
  3. Fender Bender

    Fender Bender Strat-O-Master

    Sep 29, 2009
    Kansas City, MO
    Well said
    Mansonienne likes this.
  4. Malikon

    Malikon Dark Cabaret

    Sep 2, 2009
    I use my guts and raw emotions to play and write music.
    I also use theory to better express those emotions so I'm not just hacking at my strings and hoping the sounds in my head come out of my guitar magically.

    Every time I bend, vibrato, or dig in, I'm using my feelings, but the choice of notes I choose to do that too comes from knowing some theory.

    It's a fine line.

    At the end of the day there are people who know tons of theory but don't play very well.
    And there are people who know virtually zero theory, who use their ears and play very well.

    Personally I try to be somewhere in the middle.

    When I was a kid, I hacked at my strings and knew one chord (the power chord) and I tried to jam all my thoughts and emotions out on that one chord. As I got older I learned to express myself more clearly by learning more 'words/chords' to string my sentences together a little more intelligently.

    I think of it more as honing a weapon.

    When I was a kid I'd tried to beat you over the head with a blunt instrument of rage.

    Now I can use a scalpel.

    The end result is still the same, one's just more eloquent. :twisted:

    Not to say bludgeoning someone musically ever stopped being an option. It still very much is. :twisted:
    FormerTeleGuy likes this.
  5. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 28, 2011
    Pawnee, Indiana
    Feeling trumps theory, IMO.

    Obviously a compromise of the two is best. If I had to pick though.. Feeling in a landslide victory.

    Passion is more important than technicality. The average listener relates to passion, not virtuosity.
  6. MayerFan

    MayerFan Strat-O-Master

    Apr 8, 2011
    here here,

    EDIT Wow! That was my 400th post hahah
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2011
  7. Astro1176

    Astro1176 Senior Stratmaster

    Feb 20, 2009
    How about a playlist of some of these great songs with feeling and lack of theory?

    I used to like listening to Big Brother and the Holding Company - I guess they are a contnder?
  8. tommytele

    tommytele Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 14, 2009
    Mill Valley, CA
    Have you seen them play live?
  9. MayerFan

    MayerFan Strat-O-Master

    Apr 8, 2011
    Hmmmm. BB King, knew nothing about what he was doing and made a good portion of the blues' most respected and imitated works of art!
  10. Highway1fan

    Highway1fan Senior Stratmaster

    Jul 9, 2011
    CT USA
    Both. I saw a guy in guitar center that had tons of feeling and he thought he was really good and had the worst tone known to man kind and was playing random notes... I recorded it...
  11. TrevorMarshall

    TrevorMarshall Strat-O-Master

    May 13, 2011
    Phelan, CA.
    Unless you've heard every individul note 1 million times and you know each one so well you can play without any thereory, well that's not happening. Feeling is important when you have the therory knowledge.
  12. mabley123

    mabley123 Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 21, 2010
    all i ever did was learn from listening to albums. ive been playing since i was 8. im 53 now. in the past several months i have been practicing scales, using a metronome ect...and my playing improved almost at once. i already knew alot of patterns such as major minor pentatonic and others but i never really knew what they were technically but i knew by the sound but now i know the names.

    i think if you have a good ear...... theory will only make you better and give you alot more ideas about putting tones together.
    Nate D likes this.
  13. Celeste

    Celeste Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 17, 2009
    I actually see 3 things being talked about as 2 things. understanding of music theory and technical prowess are different things. Technical prowess and a good ear make music theory less necessary. Take John Lee Hooker, 'Mr I don't need no fancy notes".

    Theory and technical prowess with no feeling, nothing to say, gets you forgettable music, Vivaldi's chamber work comes to mind, he really churned that stuff out, he had bills to pay. When he had something to say, we got music that that has and will continue to stand the test of time
  14. GuitarAJ

    GuitarAJ Most Honored Senior Member

    May 27, 2011
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    Before music theory was "invented", how did musicians make music ??

    What did mozart do?? Go and take out his piano theory handbook ?? :)
    Detector likes this.
  15. Celeste

    Celeste Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 17, 2009
    Wolfgang was well schooled in theory, and it seems somewhat of a savant.

    Before music theory attempted to unify cultural traditions of music, there were just those cultural tradidions
  16. monwobobbo

    monwobobbo Strat-O-Master

    Aug 30, 2010
    scottsville ny usa
    EVH said "if it sounds good it is good" i agree. i know enough theory to keep me out of trouble but can't say i'm even close to an expert. theory is great to know as long as you don't become a slave to it.sometimes i guess you just have to know when something "feels" right as opposed to is right.
  17. Celeste

    Celeste Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 17, 2009
    +1, When you have to understand the math behind the progression to appreciate it, like in some avant guard jazz it makes me wonder "is he trying to say something or just mentally masturbating"
  18. GuitarAJ

    GuitarAJ Most Honored Senior Member

    May 27, 2011
    Christchurch, New Zealand
    When I write songs, I am not aware of using theory, things just fall into place. Im not sure if it's like that for you to ??

    I can hear the song in my head, and my fingers find them on the fret board. I do not really have to sit and think about scales and everything. It is just automatic. I guess that is becuase of theory.

    IMO, songs will not turn out good if you only think about the theory side of it. The theory helps you play the song, but it doesn't help you get the idea, feeling or any tehnicality into the song.......thats your own part to play.
  19. nickmsmith

    nickmsmith Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 28, 2011
    Pawnee, Indiana
    I know almost no "theory" really. I know approximately 3 or 4 chords in standard tuning (I don't play standard tuning) and my ability to play comes from me being able to hear the music and translate it to my guitar and my tuning. It is having that natural rhythm and being able to find the pitch that can't be easily taught. Some people are lucky enough to have it, some are not.

    But put a sheet of music in front of me (can play chord charts, not sheet music) and I am lost as a baby at a bus station.

    I am not a virtuoso by any means. Mostly a singer/rhythm guitarist, but I make a little extra money from it.

    This is extremely arguable, but I think harping on the theory makes it too mechanized, I am personally glad I never took a guitar lesson. I took two bass lessons, and they started to try to teach me classical sheet music.....needless to say, that didn't last long.

    I got coherent on the guitar from the hours spent obsessing and listening to the crappy music I was listening to at the time, and trying to match it. Once I got that down, It kind of fell into place. I'm sure my technique is awful. I obliterate pickguards with scratches because I pick too hard, and I rarely ever use more than two fingers fretting. But I'm ok with it.
  20. Muzzlebreak

    Muzzlebreak Senior Stratmaster

    Jan 15, 2011
    You say that like it's a bad thing.
    Mr. Grabby likes this.