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!  

THEORY (the 20% that brings 80% of your results)

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by lavaboi, Aug 26, 2019.

  1. lavaboi


    Aug 23, 2019
    College graduates (EXCLUDING SCHOOL TEACHERS)

    How much has theory helped in your playing?

    What's the 20% of theory that has helped with 80% of your playing????

    Asking for myself and other players going into music academia.

    actually, I want to hear what school teachers have to say I about theory in the context of playing too[​IMG]

    (BTW Beginner resources here (no theory just where you can start))
    Groove Master likes this.
  2. Mushroo

    Mushroo Supporting Member

    Apr 2, 2007
    Massachusetts, USA
    12 major keys, 12 minor keys, and a good ear! :)
    Fergie Fulton and The Nameless like this.
  3. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    Key centers, chords, music notation, chord notation, ear training.

    I am a retired military musician, so I have have a pension. Without an understanding of music theory I probably would be a retired military electronics technician.

    I didn't plan to be a professional musician, but I had an interest in music theory. I was hoping to be an electronics engineer, but unfortunately I don't have the necessary memory skills required for higher math. I could actually do the math, but was not able to maintain the proofs and theorems in long term memory, which was required in the classes. So I was making straight As in all of my music courses and Cs in my calculus and trig courses. Eventually I declared a music major and dropped the math, and then a semester before I completed my associates, I had to drop out and get a job.

    I had taken vocational electronics in high school, so I signed up to be a military electronics tech. I did that for several years but continued studying and practicing music in my free time. Because I read music and had some basic understanding of music theory, I was able to perform in a back up band for the base talent contest while I was stationed in Turkey. Later on, the members of the back up band were joined by a few other members to form a permanent band, and started performing for various events on base and also at the Enlisted Club.

    Eventually I was transferred to a base with a military band and won an audition. I didn't fully meet their standards, but they were sort of desperate for bass players, and they felt I was good enough to do the job in a rock band. Ironically I was transferred to another base where I served in a concert band and big band. I had to work really hard to keep up, but my leaders were pleased with my performance and gave me the training I needed to become fully qualified. I rose to the very top of the career field, which would not have been possible without music theory. The thing is, I studied music theory because I wanted to.
  4. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    understanding harmonizing the major scale, buy a long shot.
    See the PDF linked in my sig for the basics
    Nashrakh, Wasnex, MonetBass and 2 others like this.
  5. If I had to pick one thing that's always useful, I'd say this is it.
    Fergie Fulton likes this.
  6. Keys and chords are my 20%.
  7. Groove Master

    Groove Master

    Apr 22, 2011
    Author of Groove 101, Slap 101 and Technique 101
    For me....A LOT !!! Especially for us bass players where the whole harmony of the music rely on every notes we play.
  8. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Probably music reading, and basic understanding of chordal harmony as it applies to melodies.
    One thing to remember about studying music theory, especially if you are to do this in an institution, is that a lot of the formulas of music theory are designed for the teaching of music theory. In other words, when you learn a new idea in theory, apply it to your playing or composition. Or use your instrument to teach that idea to someone else. Otherwise, you'll likely just learn another piece of information that will have little impact on your music. (this problem comes from institutionalizing ourselves to school; we learn facts to be tested, not be productive, but that's a much longer subject for another place).
    Another thing to keep in mind is that almost all ideas in music theory come from compositions and performance practices that already exist. So really, 'theory' is more 'history' than any suggestion of a new path (you'll have to come up with that yourself). Contrary to the way people talk about music theory, there aren't 'rules', there are observations that have been made based on music that has been written. You can follow them or not depending on the sound you want. Of course, following them is a darn good idea if you're being graded, but that refers to the previous paragraph.
    Nashrakh likes this.
  9. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Circle of fifths.

  10. Wasnex


    Dec 25, 2011
    IMHO music theory is a set of rules. The difficulty is there is not one set of rules that perfectly unifies all music and ties it up in a nice bow. So sometimes the rules apply, and sometimes they don't. You can use the rules of tertian harmony to write new music, or write a new form of music that does not conform. It's likely that theory will still provide a certain foundation for understanding the new music.

    I only made it through the first three semesters of classical theory, and primarily I learned basic tertian harmony and voice leading for the diatonic 7th chords of the Major and three Minor scale forms.

    Most of the music we studied complied very closely with the rules we learned. But it doesn't take long reading through the Real Book 5th Edition before you come across chords and chord sequences that are difficult to analyze using the rules I learned. The chords would be described as non-functional.

    I once read through several interrelated threads on different forums where academics discussed the harmonic analysis of four bars from the tune Night and Day: | F#mb5 | Fm7 | Em7 | Ebdim7 | I don't have any trouble playing a walking line over these or similar changes, but I do struggle with analyzing them in a manner that facilitates memorizing the tune in a way where I could easily play it in multiple keys.

    In reading the threads, I got the impression that there were certain harmonic rules in place at the time that Night and Day was composed that have fallen out of common usage. Since the context for the old rules is all but lost, there are a number of different ways you could analyze the passage.

    After reading through all the threads, this is the analysis that makes the most sense to me: Most Important Scale (as per Scott's Bass Lessons) This is a pretty good example of why I don't analyze and try to memorize jazz standards, as many of the great tunes I play have sections that are similarly difficult to analyze.

    Basic Blues shares many of the rules I learned in classical music theory as well, but also has some unique rules that set it apart, since you're basically using dominant blues scales over all of the chords. A progression may be analyzed as | I | IV | V| but the key center essentially shifts for each chord change.

    The thing is, the rules of theory don't necessarily give me a comprehensive understanding of music. But they do give me enough understanding to be able to see the chords and play what I need to play, or to communicate effectively with other musicians during rehearsal. Without theory, I would have to learn everything by ear, and that is very, very time consuming.
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2019
    Spin Doctor and Groove Master like this.
  11. Malcolm35


    Aug 7, 2018
    If I am playing from sheet music I can make music by rote. I just have to play what is written.

    With out the sheet music theory is what I rely upon. My ear is made of tin thus not much help.

    First question, what key.
    Second question what chords are being used.
    Then I listen and groove with the drummer using "things" I know will probably fit in.
    Last edited: Sep 7, 2019
  12. Maswov


    Sep 7, 2019
    I am a retired electronic technician, if I knew theory I probably would have been a musician.
    Nashrakh, Bender Fender and Wasnex like this.
  13. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
  14. Zooberwerx

    Zooberwerx Gold Supporting Member

    Dec 21, 2002
    Virginia Beach, VA
    Thorny1 likes this.
  15. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006
    I get the circle of fifths.
    I just wondered if Riis stood for something.
  16. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Seeing the musical links when notating as well as hearing the link...transcribing is a great tool to reinforce musical ideas.
    If i had to cite one idea, it would be intervals...for me intervals help bass players understand their instrument.
    Whousedtoplay likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.