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Do you need music theory?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by IamGroot, Dec 28, 2019.

  1. I don't care

    3 vote(s)
  2. I don't know

    9 vote(s)
  3. No

    20 vote(s)
  4. Maybe, but not for the stuff I play

    20 vote(s)
  5. I use a little bit sometimes

    58 vote(s)
  6. Yes, i use it

    188 vote(s)
  7. I use it a lot

    189 vote(s)
  8. I use carotene suppositories instead

    3 vote(s)
  9. Carrots

    6 vote(s)
  1. Hopefully, not a divisive question
  2. Scoops

    Scoops Why do we use base 10 when we only have 8 fingers Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 22, 2013
    Sugar Creek, Wisc
    I am me
    At one time I didn't....then I got my degree in Music....then I went back to my old ways, only I am much better because I know the theory
  3. TerenceE

    TerenceE Supporting Member

    Dec 6, 2015
    No one said both weren’t valid. Hell of a lot easier to learn covers and play with others (me....very little theory which I’m trying to change) than hanging in with the jazz crowd in a jam situation.
    FatStringer52 and xrockstrongox like this.
  4. Regardless, as a musician you are always going to pick up bits and pieces along the way. So I would say yes insofar as you do need to distinguish between major and minor, diminished and augmented, etc. But I don't think you need full blown, in-depth music theory to be a very competent musician. YMMV . . .
    Lorenzo V, flyeguy, raymondl3 and 4 others like this.
  5. Nashrakh


    Aug 16, 2008
    Hamburg, Germany
    You don't need it inasmuch you don't need a knowledge of anatomy to digest your sandwich.

    But if your tummy hurts, it helps to know why.
  6. Tom Bomb

    Tom Bomb Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2014
    Yes. For the laughs ;)
    kobass, design and Chickenwheels like this.
  7. Lobster11

    Lobster11 Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Apr 22, 2006
    Williamsburg, VA
  8. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Kind of a silly question. There's all kinds of music theory systems. Theory is just a report on what has happened and how you can go about making music that sounds like that. So... I you want to sound like Gregorian or Ambrosian chant (yea, there's a difference) you'd better study ancient music theory, but that's not going to give you much when you try to get through the changes on "Autumn Leaves". You could study Hanson analysis, but that's mostly vertical. Schenker might be some help, but not so much with pop music. Twelve tone music with Schoenberg, but again, that's not going to be much of any help for heavy metal bass playing.
    In other words, there's a lot of information out there, but it only works if you learn it AND apply it to your music.
    There's no definitive music theory on the music that is going to be created tomorrow, for that you need your ears... but if you know any theory, you'll be able to create quicker.
    scjurgen, Kubicki Fan, kobass and 6 others like this.
  9. DirtDog


    Jun 7, 2002
    You didn’t finish your question, @IamGroot...

    ...”need theory” - for what?
    Yonni, Tottery, DrMole and 1 other person like this.
  10. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018
    If you want to talk to other musicians yes you need some theory. It's the language we use.
  11. two fingers

    two fingers Opinionated blowhard. But not mad about it. Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 7, 2005
    Eastern NC USA
    It is literally the language of music.

    You don't want an electrician working on your house who knows little or no electrical theory (Ohms Law and whatnot).

    I don't want to play with musicians who know little or no theory.
  12. dramatwist


    Sep 27, 2019
    ...if you play more than a few years, you can't help but incorporate music theory, whether you are aware of it or not...
  13. InhumanResource


    Dec 28, 2012
    RoketRdr and hrodbert696 like this.
  14. Joe Nerve

    Joe Nerve Supporting Member

    Oct 7, 2000
    New York City
    Endorsing artist: Musicman basses
    I've written and recorded about 100 songs. I've played in successful original bands and toured in the US and abroad. I've played in about 50 cover bands. I've performed with some well known musicians as well as some of the most talented on the planet. I currently earn most of my living playing bass.

    I know very little, if any, theory.
    PWRL, tzohn, Lorenzo V and 20 others like this.
  15. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    I certainly do.
  16. Bassist4Eris

    Bassist4Eris Frat-Pack Sympathizer

    Most musicians probably know more theory than they think they do. If you know a scale, any scale at all, you know some theory. If you know the shape for a major triad on your bass, you know some theory. Heck, if you know what a root note is, you know some theory.
    TH63, HKBASS, Craig22221 and 14 others like this.
  17. MegaSwing

    MegaSwing Your Obedient Bassist® Gold Supporting Member

    Nov 26, 2002
    Baltimore, MD USA
    Knowing is ALWAYS better than not knowing.
  18. crankypants


    Aug 12, 2019
    Maybe you don't.

    Musicians do.
    TH63, Marlon Carbone, Larchi and 4 others like this.
  19. logdrum

    logdrum A person! Supporting Member

    So you are just like Bobby Vega then. He played with TOP and everyone there reads. He does encourage everyone to learn how to sight read. If these top talented musicians in the planet, did you ever had to read a chart. Even if it is a number chart then you must know more than little. If you played jazz then you know theory. You just don't have a music degree
    Miles Davis Christian McBride dropped out of music school.
    BazzaBass and IamGroot like this.
  20. Slpbass81


    Dec 16, 2010
    Orlando, FL
    Endorsing: GHS Strings
    Seems like an ignorant post. Music theory is useful in a cover band. We take all requests and if we don’t know it the guitarist calls out the chords he will play and we roll. Also a lot more money having a good career combined with weekend cover gigs vs a full time theory musician.

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