how much theory should i learn?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by jaworski, Mar 29, 2005.

  1. jaworski


    Aug 18, 2002
    first, sorry if this has already been posted before but i couldn't exactly find anything in my search.

    after reading numerous posts on the relevance and benefits of learning theory i've started to really look at scales and chords etc. but really can't help wondering how much exactly i should learn and what exactly i should learn? when i look at all the bands that've inspired me (sonic youth, fugazi, at the drive-in etc.) i can't help think that besides maybe learning what key to play the song in, what notes to hit... they haven't really looked to far into it. i'm just beginning to start playing in an experimental/indie-type band + have quite a built-up collection of bass lines but they were all just freely written based on sound (what worked)... so in your opinion, what is necessary for learning to play within a band situation + for figuring out the right notes to play in my bass line? and is there anything more i really need to know?

  2. Lowtonejoe

    Lowtonejoe Supporting Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    Richland, WA
    First of all, learn as much theory as possible. Learn to read music if you can. A little at a time for the rest of your life is o.k. unless you got big plans. If you do, start cramming!

    Second, I guess the absolute most basic tools you will need to learn songs are:
    1. What key it is in
    2. What the chords are in the song
    3. What the notes are that make up the chords
    4. A good sense of melody
    5. A good sense of time

    With these things you should be able to come up with a good bassline for any song.

    Third, do not under any circumstances forget to have fun!



  3. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    There's no formula. It's not like you learn scales and modes, get the leather pants, practice no less than 4 hours a week, but no more than 8, and you'll have success.

    If you have a desire to play with a long-term band, to create music that is enjoyable to you and others, and to record that music and sell it, then tour, then you're just never going to find an exact formula that translates to that level of success.

    So, in my experience, what helps is this:

    - study music everyday, in everyway. Study sheet music, study other genres of music, study the theory of music to help you understand what it is that you're doing, study the miscellaneous sounds in your natural environment. Study everything.

    But now, there are a lot of things that go into "success." First and foremost, hard work. So, learn all the theory there is to be learned, all of it. Study group dynamics, business, psychology, become technically proficient on your instrument, make networks, don't burn bridges, become friends with many people, practice your instrument, work hard, practice, study.

    Then, when you've done all that. Do it again.