1. Please take 30 seconds to register your free account to remove most ads, post topics, make friends, earn reward points at our store, and more!  
    TalkBass.com has been uniting the low end since 1998.  Join us! :)

Inspiration from learning theory.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Rev J, Dec 31, 2012.

  1. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    I've been playing for about 20 years and something I just realized when trying to put together material for a new project is looking at 3 tunes that I wrote (2 old and one new) is that they were all inspired by something I had learned studying theory and watching videos explaining theoretical concepts.

    One tune is what I call a "Modal Blues". After learning about modal planing and putting a I-IV-V against a static bassline years later it clicked and I wrote this song superimposing a 12 bar blues against a funk bass ostinato.

    Another I wrote while trying to explain tritone substitution to a guitarist. To give him an example I came up with a bassline/chord progression that went D7-G#7-G7-C#7.

    And the third. I was watching a Damian Erskine video and he was talking about walking arpeggios over changes and instead of playing the root on each change playing the nearest chord tone. I thought to myself why not write a funk tune based on this same type of idea. So I sat down and for one section it has a Dmin7-G7/D, then transitions to Dmin7-G7/D-CMaj7/E, to Dmin7/F-G7/F-CMaj7/E, the next section is just a variation on the first section except it's Dmin7/F-G7/F. Then it repeats the turn around and goes into another section that goes Emin7-Amin7/E-Dmin7/F-G7/F twice and resolves to Cmaj7/E before going back to the original progression.

    It seems like I've read plenty of interviews and comments from players talking about learning some new technique and writing songs around it but very little about players learning some new approach to theory and harmony and applying it. Am I alone in this phenomena?

    Rev J
  2. Alone, not at all.
    Interesting progression, the example you gave guitarist looks like a combo of secondary an substitute dominants.

    Its very much like math and that turns most people off.
    Not me!
  3. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    It is very mathematical. Math and Music Theory were a bitch for me. I do a great job overcompensating though.

    I always viewed that progression as a I7-IV7 with tritone subs connecting them. Everyone I show that progression to loves it though.

    Here's another interesting correlation between math and music. The Fibonacci Sequence is a sequence of numbers where each one is the sum of the 2 that come before it. I'm just going to use the first 6 numbers to make my point. 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13. Root, second, third, fifth, octave, take the 13 down an octave is a sixth. New order Root, Second, Third, Fifth, Sixth, Octave. Major Pentatonic Scale. I'd be interested in trying out the Pigtronix Delay with the Golden Ratio setting.

    Rev J
  4. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    This is how the theory class in college was taught. 1.) learn something 2.) write something with it (short 8-16 bars) 3.) share in class. The last step is very important, it keeps you honest.

    In short, what you don't use, you loose.
  5. David A. Davis

    David A. Davis Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2008
    Summerville, SC
    Fibonacci sequence? Check out my avatar.;)
  6. Rev J

    Rev J

    Jun 14, 2012
    Berkeley, Ca.
    That is totally cool. My girlfriend thinks that would make a really cool tattoo.

    Here's a video I kind of trip out on too:


    Echo's based on the Golden Ratio and seeing Phils expression when it is mentioned is kind of cool.

    Rev J
  7. Russell L

    Russell L

    Mar 5, 2011
    Cayce, SC
    To the OP, it's all about what innovative musicians have done over the centuries. No different than Schoenberg creating the first tone row, or Beethoven changing the nature of traditional "classical" music. Understanding music first is a priority, and that means theory. How can you do anything innovative if you don't first know what is traditional? Or, how do you do something to vary from a particular style if you don't first know what the traits of the style are? To some extent your ear will tell you, but theory expands the possibilities. I was jamming with a jazz guitarist once on a tune when just before the downbeat he said, "It's Lydian." Ok, that gave me something to go by, and it also meant that the composer wrote the thing based on a specific idea, just like you did. You're in good company, pal.