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Is Music Theory Useful?

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Chris Fitzgerald, Mar 29, 2004.

  1. A major second. And of course you all know that the major seventh and minor second interval are complementary, i.e. they have the same note names. So we are all correct, unless we know the absolute values of the tones (that is, if we know which of the two is the higher one).

  2. Ericman197


    Feb 23, 2004
    You'd have to be able to read my mind to know that.
  3. :ninja:
  4. moll 2nd ?
  5. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    That's one of the most encouraging things I read on here in ages.

    Kinda related... I bought my ex-housemate a cheap bass about a year ago for his birthday as he was always playing around with mine before he moved out. I went round his house last night and he'd taught himself perfect pitch. Honestly I tested him like 10 times and he say 7 right and the rest within a semi-tone! It cant have been luck, he even guessed the pitch of a random cup correctly!
    He said "I thought that all musicians could tell one pitch from another, so I taught myself to recognise them"! Mad huh! :)
  6. Michael Nickerson

    Michael Nickerson

    Apr 24, 2003
    This is a great thread that should continue. Now that April 15th is behind me, I have time to add my own 1.5 cents.

    First, I'm woefully deficient in theory. I started playing bass entirely by ear, then taught myself to sight read. Now I'm cramming to learn more theory. I LOVE jazz, and really enjoy listening to different bassist's approach to a song, but I find myself always wondering "why does this work, or that not sound just right?". It just feels that to have a thorough appreciation of jazz I need to have a better understanding of chordal structure, harmonics, etc. So, the inquisitive side of me is still very hungry. I liken it to someone learning a second language. (Yes, I agree. It IS a second language.) It is one thing to know the words. It is quite another to know how they should be put together to convey the meaning you wish to convey.

    On the flip side, I know that when I play, it is from the heart and from what I hear in my head. I've been told I have a "good ear" and I seem to intuitively know where a song is going. I don't fear that I'll ever lose that, once I figure out the theory. (I enjoyed reading Chris make this point far better than I could)

    In the end, it seems playing bass, being an "artist", musicianship, is a never-ending quest of challenge and discovery. Theory is but one more tool in this grander scheme, and one that I am willing to challenge myself to discover. Still looking for the right teacher.

    The feedback on this thread has been extremely helpful.
  7. Michael, i'm involved in another thread right now about "Re-Harmonization" I just made a point over there about people re-harmonizing tunes to the point of not knowing the original changes to a tune.
    I like what you said (above) but the one missing ingredient on this thread AS well AS the other about re-harmonization is TASTE. Once you have the tools to do all this stuff, Taste is the final ingredient. We've all known players whose knowledge and ability are unquestionable, but their taste is up their ***. These people tend to abuse their abilities and trash stuff out. This, of course, is akin to playing too many notes!
  8. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Word. The next time some "clever" ***hole decides to play Trane subs behind the bass solo, I'm going to simply stop playing and say, "Sorry - how rude of me to be cluttering up your solo. Carry on without me".
  9. Michael Nickerson

    Michael Nickerson

    Apr 24, 2003
    Paul and Chris - I agree whole-heartedly. I've heard some musicians overwhelm a song to the point of obnoxiousness. To me, the sign of a great bassist is someone who is comfortable/confident enought with their abilities that they can play just what they need to in order to "fit the tune" . . . with TASTE.
    When ALL the members of a band can do this, the song becomes a truly majical experience.
  10. Michael Nickerson

    Michael Nickerson

    Apr 24, 2003
  11. Ericman197


    Feb 23, 2004
    I kind of liked majical better... it was more creative :bag:

  12. I wonder how he did that?

    I'm sure that it can be done. I found that I've been able to recognize chords even, like when they are the first chord of a tune I've been playing alot.

    Like my combo was playing "Light Blue" by monk alot, and it starts on Fmaj7... I was just bumming around the music hall, when sombody else was learning a tune on piano that starts on Fmaj7, and I just jumped and asked them, my heart all aflutter, "IS THAT AN F MAJOR SEVEN?!" and they said, "yeah..."

    But I was pretty proud of me! I've been trying to train myself to recognize an A 440, which is coming along pretty okay...

    Ha, I just got up and tested it, by singing the note and then using the a 440 on my metronome, and I was a little sharp, but within the boundary of a quarter tone.

    Wait, I think I just answered my own question. I think if you just try and learn one note at a time from memory, you'll get it. You'll be wrong alot (It's taken me a year to get where I am on the A 440 thing.) and then it just becomes easier. It startles me too, when I recognize pitches. I can usually recognize when a tune is in C too. That tends to be more of a gut feeling thing than a jumping recognition thing, and it's kind of dodgy as to how accurate I am, but I'm still working on it.
  13. bwulf


    May 15, 2004
    Eureka, CA
    Why do you want to have perfect pitch?
  14. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    The ability to recognize pitches can come in handy at times, especially when you play in a trio where the leader doesn't always clue you in on things like what tune you're about to play, or what key the tune is in. There's a thread on the subject lying around here someplace...

  15. Cool party trick.

    NO really, it comes in hand when transcribing and stuff, or when realizing a lick on the spot, etc.
  16. bwulf


    May 15, 2004
    Eureka, CA
    I was asking because I have found that most people that have perfect pitch don't want it and those that don't do. I think PP fits into the category of "be careful what you wish for, you might get it". Do you know anyone with PP that plays a transposing intrument besides DB (ie; tenor sax, alto sax, etc.)?
    It is a great debate over which is more useful, developing PP or developing good relative pitch.
    "Talk amongst yourselves."-Linda Richman
  17. I think that perfect pitch will be more of a problem for people who just ended up with it naturally at a young age. It's so much a part of them that notes which are slightly off really get to them (or so I hear). A person who just went and learned it is more likely to be comfortable saying, "Okay, we're all about a quarter tone off the actual pitch, but that's fine." Of course, I'm just guessing, but I might be right.
  18. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    I pulled something like that (very politely) with a piano player and he said "well, if you want me play simpler or even lay out... why did I bring by s***". Neddless to say, I don't play with him much anymore.
  19. LittleJaco


    Nov 4, 2004
    theory is the ladder I can climb when I'm playing any style of music. It makes it less boring, and it fits. Think of music as a pair of pants with legs a mile long. You can't fit your legs (playing) around them unless you have a proper tailor. Theory is the tailor that lets the music fit with you in any way possible

    sry, that was random but i see what you guys mean. whenever I am given a solo with my group of friends it always is a short solo where they dont really pay attention to it
  20. Yes, butÂ… look!


    - Wil

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