Formal theory training - why? This is why.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by buldog5151bass, Nov 17, 2015.

  1. buldog5151bass

    buldog5151bass Kibble, milkbones, and P Basses. And redheads.

    Oct 22, 2003
    I posted this in another thread in response to a question, but wanted to get some reactions from the members.

    IMO, while formal music theory training is not necessary, it allows you to progress further and faster, and I make this comparison. While you learn to speak your native language from listening to others, you still study grammar in school. Why? It allows us to speak and comprehend at a higher level, and learn more quickly.

    No one says you shouldn't study grammar in school, because it interferes with your "creativity". Neither should your study of music theory.
  2. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    my reaction to someone arguing the dubious dichotomy of "theory vs creativity" is to refer them to Anthony Wellington:
    Creede, tmw, gkbass13 and 14 others like this.
  3. Wow that's great.
    cazclocker likes this.
  4. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    Well said
  5. Lanky Tunes

    Lanky Tunes

    Jun 9, 2014
    Like most things it is really a question of the actual content, how it is presented (norms vs. rules), and how it is mixed with the other aspects of learning to play.

    That said, I don't think anyone needs it, but it can certainly work as a sort of cheat sheet to figuring out what others are doings as well as inspiring new ideas to play.
  6. twinjet

    twinjet Powered by GE90s; fueled with coffee. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Sep 23, 2008
    Having studied music all through middle and high school, I can say that all those years of scales and stuff I thought I would never use has helped me a lot. It also works wonders when I work with other musicians. Any kind of formal music training that has also been applied tends to impress.
  7. Those who say they won't engage in serious music study because they're afraid it will interfere with their creativity are really just making excuses for being lazy. Having said that, I haven't really engaged in serious music study because I'm afraid it might interfere with my creativity.
    Last edited: Nov 22, 2015
  8. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Don't want to study theory? OK. I mean, I'm sure professional musicians are just like professional sports. No one in MLB or NFL or NBA would even think of spending time watching videos of themselves or other players. No way would they talk to a coach or player about aspects of their game. You're not going to see them reading about the game, getting involved with its history, past players or any of the stuff that will take their mind of 'their game'. Can you imagine people taking lessons in tennis or golf just so they're better at playing on the weekends? Who would ever do that? Why would you want to fill your mind with someone else's ideas?
  9. Lownote38


    Aug 8, 2013
    Nashville, TN
    Cheat sheet?? A Nashville Number System chart is a cheat sheet. Knowing music theory gives you the ability to know WHY things work musically, and how to analyze it. That's not cheating.
  10. Lanky Tunes

    Lanky Tunes

    Jun 9, 2014


    It is a cheat sheet in that you understand norms in music and can often guess where things are going due to those norms.
  11. Killed_by_Death

    Killed_by_Death Snaggletooth Inactive


    Because I'm 2 lazy to write all that.

    I have done some studying online, but I was trying to read some music the other day & couldn't even remember how to decode the key signature. Looks like I need a refresher.
  12. Me too. I used to read simple piano music well enough but that was so many years ago. I've done online stuff, bought books... In a few minutes my eyes just glaze over. I really do need to get it together because the work I'm doing these days really requires it. If I could sight read well I could just walk into the gig and play. As it is, I have to spend hours listening to and creating 'Playskool' charts for the three or four new songs we are expected to play every week, most of which we'll never play again. It sucks! I mean I can read chord sheets well enough but that often won't cut it.
    el jeffe bass likes this.
  13. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015
    Some of us learn along the way, without making it a formal thing
    bolophonic likes this.
  14. Sharp5


    Dec 6, 2014
    Eastern NC
    It's even worse on guitar forums. I used to get quite a chuckle from the it kills creativity crew. How does knowing more limit creativity I always wondered. Its almost worn as a badge for some. Look at what I can do and I don't know all that theory stuff. Actually they know more than they think. They know theory, maybe not the "formal" termonology.
    BMGecko likes this.
  15. FlatwoundFunk


    Apr 16, 2015
    Atlanta, Ga
    And the debate continues......
  16. rufus.K


    Oct 18, 2015


    Even on TB main page... no fancy theory
    twinjet likes this.
  17. HaVIC5


    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    I've posted this here before, but it warrants mention anyway. I go in depth in this video about prescriptivism vs. descriptivism and the meaning of what theory actually is versus what it isn't, but yeah, you should learn it.

    tmw, keyofnight, AshDrawsify and 3 others like this.
  18. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Inactive

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    The Arts - one of the few fields where some people consider ignorance an advantage. :rollno:
  19. joebar


    Jan 10, 2010
    fabulous concept
  20. FlatwoundFunk


    Apr 16, 2015
    Atlanta, Ga
    I shouldn't ask this because I know it's a set-up statement. But I'm a sucker for for stimulating and thought provoking conversations. To play devils advocate.....

    Q- Is it not art if as person is not "TRAINED" according to the "parameters" that were set in a formality? For "Arts" existed before it was structured in theories that we hold as formalities today.

    Not that I'm against formal music training or instruction in musical theory, or any arts theory for that matter. I actually think it's a good thing. BUT not the only way. I know you didn't say only.
    rufus.K likes this.

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