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No knowledge of theory but who cares?

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Reinhardt  
14 Dec 2009 03:42 | Quote
Joined: 22 Sep 2009
South Africa
Karma: 8
Quick question,
I have just basic knowledge of chords and abit of scales.
Is it possible to get very good just to play around on your guitar for hours/days/months/years and come up with random riffs and licks and chord progressions and write insane good music? Would like to hear your thoughts on it :)
Carlsnow can start ^_^
JustJeff  
14 Dec 2009 07:49 | Quote
Joined: way back
United States
Lessons: 2
Karma: 21
I doubt that cs is awake right now, so I hope you don't mind me starting.

Yes. Point being: Gabriel y Rodrigo have very little theory knowledge. However, they do make up for that in technique. If you ever listen to Rodrigo talk about music, he just says he "plays what sounds good." That advice is exactly what cs will tell you.

Now, the issue here is how do you find what sounds good? Some people just have a natural talent for those kinds of things. Other people (like me), need a head start with some theory and then I can find something.

Just a matter of how you approach song writing and music in general. If you ever want to communicate your knowledge to other musicians, theory is a good thing to know.
Heather  
14 Dec 2009 07:52 | Quote
Joined: 21 Aug 2008
United Kingdom
Licks: 2
Karma: 19
lol aww, I'm not Carl :(

Would it help if I tried to sound like him? Okay, shall I start with...RAWK!? No it's just not the same when I do it. There's a less awesome voice in your head when you read 'Rawk' when I've typed it. I give up on that already.

But I think you can still write some good music. I bet I know much less on theory then you do though (researching and trying to remember all this key stuff makes my head hurt you see). I admit all the members here who seem to know insane amounts about theory (which is pretty much all of them I think?) have written stuff far better then anything I've done. But then again, I don't take a great deal of time to sit down and play my guitar these days either. But I think I have written some good progressions and licks when I have taken the time to play and focus on that same thing every day.

I bet you would put much more dedication into your compositions then I do. And I bet you'll come up with some awesome stuff. So yeah.
Reinhardt  
14 Dec 2009 13:09 | Quote
Joined: 22 Sep 2009
South Africa
Karma: 8
Hahaha, thx guys. Been making alot of progress. Playing with a chord progression or a drum beat or with a band is easier to make up riffs and solos than trying to write a solo instrumental. But mixing up rhythm percussion on the body, with a few slaps and filler licks can always make up a good solo instrumental. But its hard to come up with stuff like Andy Mckee and those guys.
JustJeff  
14 Dec 2009 13:26 | Quote
Joined: way back
United States
Lessons: 2
Karma: 21
Yeah I've been struggling with writing solo stuff. Once I find myself with more time, I want to challenge myself to writing a lick a week, every week.

I feel that if I start exploring the guitar more like that, then I'll find that I have a lot of material to choose from for solo instrumental stuff.
AlexB  
14 Dec 2009 15:22 | Quote
Joined: 13 Jul 2009
Mexico
Licks: 2
Karma: 23
In my personal experience...

Im very limited in theory knowledge,every chord voicing,every shape,every lick,i do it by ear,and,to me,that way of doing things has worked.

i dont want to writte super complicated fusion virtuoso pieces of music,that only some musicians might enjoy,i want to writte good music,music that both musicians and average listeners can enjoy,and that i enjoy doing too

So yeah,if writting or playing by ear feels comfortable to you,then is ok! but remember,some theory isnt bad either ;)
Domigan_Lefty  
14 Dec 2009 17:57 | Quote
Joined: 20 Sep 2009
United States
Karma: 8
Yea, i just explore my fretboard. The more you practice the better you get.

Its better to know something and not know what youre talking about, than to know what youre talking about but never be able to do it.

Ps. I have no idea what i just said :)
raptorclaws  
14 Dec 2009 18:50 | Quote
Joined: 14 Jul 2009
Canada
Karma: 1
I find theory most useful on the 'learning' side. As my knowledge of theory increases over the years so does my ability to learn a song, lick or whatever. Instead of memorizing a million notes, chord changes, etc. , I can 'get the concept' and work from there.

As these songs, riffs etc. become part of my repetoire then I can draw on them when noodling around the fretboard. All the 'stuff' becomes a resource to tap into. A few bars here and a change to a couple of notes in a riff...transposed to the same key and new tunes develop. No need to reinvent the wheel.
Schecter_player  
14 Dec 2009 20:12 | Quote
Joined: 12 Jul 2009
Canada
Karma: 3
HOLY SMOKES! this might be the fastest growing thread i've seen.

There are two ways to use theory, imo. You can use it to create music, or you can use it to explain music. SO! yeah, you can get really good without knowing a lick of theory. If you can create music without it, and don't need to explain it any more than d chord a chord, then you're set.

Personally, i found that learning theory helped me a lot though. in case anyone wanted to know.
Reinhardt  
14 Dec 2009 23:28 | Quote
Joined: 22 Sep 2009
South Africa
Karma: 8
Awesome Feedback so far guys!

I find that making up songs in Dadgad and Open C is alot easier cuz u always get that backing chord when you strum. But Standard tuning is way harder to write a solo instrumental piece that can be played alone and still sound good! Take for instance Drifting by Andy Mckee and Ocean by John butler.

DADGAD = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ddn4MGaS3N4
Open C = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5OO5ZSHxqjI
carlsnow  
15 Dec 2009 08:08 | Quote
Joined: 29 Apr 2009
United States
Lessons: 2
Karma: 23
Heather says:
lol aww, I'm not Carl :(

Would it help if I tried to sound like him? Okay, shall I start with...RAWK!? No it's just not the same when I do it. There's a less awesome voice in your head when you read 'Rawk' when I've typed it. I give up on that already.


hahahahaha!!! ya had me rollin' Heather! ;)

@Reinhardt


The SHORT answer = YES! ...of course!
(and those open tunings allude to the beautiful sound of “un-trained” hands on a cheap guitar with a slide and a “Death Letter Blues” crawling out of Son House’s mouth)

Longer answer = YES! ...of course! B U T – it’s nice to know/do BOTH. Dig?

When I was a kid of 9 or 10; I learned some ‘theory’ (wasn’t pushed as hard back in the 70’s). I played with all the neat mysteries and puzzles ‘Theory’ presents, and was happy as hell about it all. … I had a band a year, it seemed from 15 – 17, and the last of these, Koro, became very ‘popular’ (as a Hardcore band in 81 could be lol), and this meant that I had to trade skills a bit. My mentor/friend/teacher Terry, who was touring on and off himself had been loosening my theory-belt, so to speak, and I began to learn more of, what we then called’ “Club-Chops”. Club/road-Theory states that you will get better and better the more an audience asks of you (esp. when comparing you to others) or you will bomb. You will have beer thrown on you and much much worse but you WILL play much much better and get paid.
After that band many others followed (still have one, lol) BUT my curiosity grew and grew about “what the hell am I playing?”
So, I’d ask Terry and he’d show me the WHAT behind the riffs I had acquired and the names of Chords I though I’d ‘invented’. There was no internet, hell, barely any copy-machines, so EVERYTHING was spoken and intently LISTENED to. It was then written out on Mel Bay staff/tab paper. I’m not kidding when I say that those hand-written exorcises and instructions (talkin’ Theory) made me feel like the keeper of some great ‘secrets of the trade’ and I poured over them with awe, learning how to ‘learn’ while listening how to ‘listen’.

That’s when THEORY ‘hit me’ … like a truck (or a Blue VW ‘Bus’ packet w/ gear, lol)

T (terry) and later, also Hector Qirko (took from both at same time, both had a killer band and then band-s) would lay these odd licks on me that I would practice until I fell asleep , guitar in hand, but they would not give names , at least T wouldn’t. So I asked finally. “Hey T”, my cocky 20 yr-old self asked, “what IS this”
Answer: “Its what you DO with it you should ask” he replied sharply (I’ll NEVER forget)
I asked him what it meant to know these ‘things’ and what he meant by “its what you DO with them that’s important, the NAMES ARE SECONDARY”
Then he marked the tops of a pile of Mel Bay Staff/Tab paper with strange Greek names like, Phrygian and Lydian and such … I thought he was just really stoned and playing a joke on me; nope!
See, unless ya play some really really strange clubs/theaters/etc noo-one ever compliments you with “man! I really dug that Lydian Dominant –to- Dorian move!!”, they just say “great show man!” (or “you Suck!”, lol) so I had NO CLUE what was up.
THAT is the beauty of NO-Theory, you play beyond rules and regulations.
BUT
The beauty OF THEORY is that IT waits for you… its been around for a ga-zillion years and ‘aint going nowhere fast’.(as we say in the south)
So, I asked T again, about all the funny names and such and he tells me ‘do that thing you do , but TRY adding THIS’, and so forth.
NOW I was putting names to ‘scales’ and ‘chords’ and big doors opened in my ears and on the fretboard. NOT due to Theory but rather due to my wanting to know what I was playing, LOL. I was listening to a LOT of Robert Fripp and such (Bowie’s Scary Monsters LP just came out and T had given me the first DEVO LP for Christmas). I wanted to know what Fripp(and many others) knew, and be able to fully develop, on the guitar, what was in my head. I was HUNGRY. Theory is a ‘performance-enhancing drug’ with no ill effects *(when used well) and I plumbed T and HQ for all they could teach me.
After awhile I was the one writing the charts that they would speak (something I recommend to anyone) instead of reading their writing. This helped a lot as I learned how to score ‘those evil little dots’ (Staff) and write down, Nashville-style, ‘Charts’ for my tunes and so on and so forth …
After T said “there is nothing else I can teach you” (after HQ) I went to the local “classical’ guitar guy, he sold me a book (boy can those dudes be stuffy lol) and sent me on my way. I tossed the book in my case and that was that.
From then on I learned theory and such buy picking apart any music that intrigued me. I still do that.

IF I had kept on going sans-theory I would have been just fine.
BUT I wanted to play better than Don and David and Mick and the rest of the guitarists quickly leaving Knoxville. So I studied and practiced and practiced and studied.

So YES you CAN get by without theory, and in MANY cases (kids) its best to hold off on it awhile (it ‘scares off’ some folks) until you can play all open/Barre chords and a few “scales” … in other words, until the MECHANICS of playing are grasped.
THEN
BRING ON THEORY!

Hope that helped

RAWK!
Cs


PS… Heather; RAWK! Has no lower-case letters ;~)
Heather  
15 Dec 2009 13:06 | Quote
Joined: 21 Aug 2008
United Kingdom
Licks: 2
Karma: 19
carlsnow says:
Heather; RAWK! Has no lower-case letters ;~)


Haha ah damn it! I KNEW there was something wrong with the way I typed that at the time. I should've thoght twice. Try again? RAWK! No. Still not the awesomely awesome voice you think of when you read Carl's posts. :(


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