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Internalising/Appyling Theory

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Andy Cleaver, Mar 23, 2005.

  1. Andy Cleaver

    Andy Cleaver A show of hands....

    Dec 16, 2004
    England, Midlands
    Can someone give me some advice. After 4 years of playing I'm happy with my level of playing from a technical stand point but my theory knowledge....stinks. When writing basslines I generally take the root, and use my ears from there.

    What I really want to start doing is not only learning theory (scales, arpeggios etc) but also learning at the same time to apply it to my playing. Can anyone suggest good ways of doing this?

    Resources, advice, anything you can offer will be much appreciated! Thanks a lot :)!
  2. The way that's always worked for me to internalize theory is to constantly improvise on what you are learning and do excersises (boring but worth it) to hammer it into your brain. If you learn about II-V-I progressions or what have you, you play, improvise, and compose several different basslines over this chord progression so that you can hear it as well as know it intelectually. I would also say it would be a good idea to find a way to listen to examples of what you are learning sounds like, and analize the music. For this reason I would suggest getting a real classical theory book hopefully with a CD or something of that nature, or better yet take courses. Even if you have no interest in classical music do know that everything, theory wise, is bassed on it. Most Jazz thoery, I've seen, unfortunetly tends to give you only part of the story and so you learn about how to play over chords but you don't really understand how these chords relate to eachother, again just my opinion, (I'm a jazz musician by the way, so I'm not just a classical snob, although I am that too).
  3. Andy Cleaver

    Andy Cleaver A show of hands....

    Dec 16, 2004
    England, Midlands
    Thanks mate, some great advice there! Anyone else got anything to add :)?
  4. Gard


    Mar 31, 2000
    WInter Garden, FL
    Practice scales & modes, and all of the 7th arpeggios until you can do them all in all 12 keys without a second thought, that's the FIRST thing to start on (it's a BIG chunk of stuff, so a little at a time!).

    Take a look at the interaction of things, note that the major/diatonic scales and/or modes will support a certain set of chords. Practice this information until it is again second nature. There are "families" of chords that are "related" by a common scale, however, you should also be aware that Cmaj7 can be viewed as both a I and a IV chord (Ionian and Lydian modes, respectively), and be aware how to function melodically in both. The same can be said of Cmin7, except that it can be viewed as a ii, iii, and vi chord (Dorian, Phrygian, and Aeolian modes, respectively). Learn when Cmin7 is ii, and when it is vi, and WHY. Learn to HEAR these things in context - Cmaj7 as Lydian/IV is a very different sound than Cmaj7 as Ionian/I!

    Learn the Circle of 5ths (search on here, there is a good thread somewhere...I believe I may have actually posted it...yup here it is! :D), and USE them at all times for practicing - counterclockwise (as in descending 5ths). This is VERY important, as you will find that music tends to move in that way, V to I is a VERY strong resolution musically, followed by ii to V, then vi to ii....

    There is no substitute for doing what I call "donkey work", repetetive, mundane, and as BassZen said, yes...boring. But it so SO worth the effort.

    The physical part is important, because you don't want your technique to impede your thoughts (also, always remember that "technique" is not about playing fast, it is about playing effortlessly, accurately, and cleanly - speed is a side effect, not a goal!), so definitely get VERY comfortable with all of the tools (scale/modes, arpeggios) that you will be using. But never ever lose sight of what you are using them for!

    It's 3:30 am here, I'm fighting insomnia, so if I am rambling incoherently, please forgive me! :help:

  5. Andy Cleaver

    Andy Cleaver A show of hands....

    Dec 16, 2004
    England, Midlands
    Thanks Gard,

    Thats not a bad post for someone who was 'rambling incoherently :p !'

    Thanks a lot for that. Right...best get to work :)! I'm sure I'll need to ask some questions along the way but I'll get there eventually.

    Edit: 1st Question

    I've just been refreshing myself on Major/Minor scales, so incorporating the circle of 5ths into my practice I just play through either 1 or 2 octave major/minor scales in the keys of the circle in a counter-clockwise movement?

    Then to turn this into a daily practice regime that does not get repetative I just start in a different key each day and move around the circle from there rather than C all the time?