Putting theory to use.

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by metalguy2, Dec 19, 2005.

  1. metalguy2


    Dec 26, 2004
    I have been playing for 5 years now. And I have never really fully gotten into composing music and chord progressions. But now I am. I have a strong understanding of how the notes work in keys and modes. But putting that knowledge to use is a little touchy. (i.e. Not being comfortable in keys I am writing in makes me slow thinking on what I am trying to do.)
    Has anyone else has this problem. Is it me? Advice?
  2. How about writing to the end of a phrase before you analyze? Write out what you want everyone to do, then look at it to see whether the harmony is moving the way you want it to and everything, and make the changes you need. The key, I think, is to get your idea on paper before you rip it apart.
  3. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    My personal outlook. Is that theory should be a means of describing and quantifying what you just did, not what you are about to do. I think that thru the study of theory, you potentially open your mind to new ideas, but ultimately, whatever ideas you have in your head are perfectly valid, and knowledge of traditional theory should serve to polish them, arrange them or even explain them. But I do not believe theory should be a means to an end in writing music.

    I look at music as an art that I express myself thru. How am I expressing myself if I'm playing by someone else's rules? Or rather, how can I have true expression if I'm limiting myself to the constrains of other people's rules. So, I don't look at theory as a set of rules, especially not in writing music. So I never look at my writing as "okay, I've been studying theory for almost 7 years, let's see, how am I going to apply it to this piece I'm writing?"

    You can pretty much always trust your ear because, even if your ear is telling you something that traditional theory says is questionable, that doesn't mean it's wrong.

    I have found, in my 7+ years of studying musical theory that, the deeper I get into it, the more 'advanced', the more holistic it becomes. The last theory class I took was an advanced jazz harmony class and it got to the point where teach basically said "welp, really, you can use just about any note or chord anywhere", a stark contrast to beginner classes that focused more on "okay, you can play this here and you can't play this here".

    Just imo, ymmv and all that.
  4. Correlli


    Apr 2, 2004
    Wellington, NZ

  5. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Music theory is just a short cut to understanding what other composers have done. And it usually takes the world of music theory about 25 to 50 years to catch up with the innovators. This is why music schools and theory text usually cover music that is no longer in its developmental stage (read: contemporary).

    It would be easier, although time intensive, to teach someone how to write a big band chart ('30-40's style) that it would to teach them how to compose in some kind of electronic funk style. The Big Band stuff is done, and the choices already made that define the style.

    Don't worry about making mistakes, that's what theory worries about. Just create music the way you want to hear it.