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Theory..time to get started, help please!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by yoshi, Jul 12, 2005.


  1. yoshi

    yoshi

    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    I've been playing bass for about 4 years now and know next to nothing in respect to theory - I know a few scale shapes but nothing beyond that really.

    In a ploy to get going with theory I grabbed my beginner book (the one I bought 4 and a bit years ago). I followed through the cycle of fifths part and after 2 or 3 days was left with the 'knowledge' of it, but also a sense of frustration in respect to how useless it - or I - seemed...I mean, what the hell is it for? what's it's potential? what's my potential once I know it?! The same feelings go towards any other theory in the book.

    Apologies for sounding stupid, but I'm really clueless at theory and need to be guided in the right direction..probably kicking and screaming ;)
     
  2. It'll help you understand music more. Think of it like any other language, because that's basically what music is, a language. You can learn how to speak English, converse with people, and get by well enough without formal training. However, you wont know how to write in English, or even the correct rules and methods of speaking it properly. So think of good music theory as proper grammar for your musical expressions.
     
  3. First of all, it's not necessary to know a bit of theory to make good music. It does help, for a few reasons.

    At the most universally applicable level, it will allow you to easily write down any music you compose, and make it easier to read music.

    After that, it will let you rearrange a piece of music in a way that remains similar to the original, but pleases you more. That's good for coming up with a version of a tune that's playable by your ensemble, finding a more suitable form for your ideas when composing, and coping with improvisation.

    Next, since theory describes traditional western music, you can use it to create more music in a style you choose. Almost all the music you hear (I'm assuming your're not exclusively into world music) is described by music theory. Understanding theory will let you understand the structure of a song and create your own music based on that structure.
     
  4. Yoshi, i find that the circle of 5th's are useful to me when i'm trying to transcribe music by ear. Usually, a song will follow the circle of 5ths, break it for a few measures and then pick back up again.

    For instance, let's look at Satin Doll (i'm not a jazz cat either, but i don't know if you into the r&b thing for me to use as an example, so i'll attempt to demonstrate with a universal jazz standard)

    The chords are as follows

    Dmin G7
    Dmin G7
    Emin A7
    Emin A7
    Amin D7

    then the cycle of 5ths breaks and it goes

    Aflat min7 Dflat7
    C
    E half dim7 A7flat9
    C Dmin
    D#half dim Emin7

    then the song goes back into the cycle of 5ths

    Gmin7 C7
    Gmin7 C7

    breaks cycle again

    Fmaj7
    Gmin7 C7

    goes back around the cycle again

    Amin7 D7
    Amin7 D7
    Dmin7 G7
    Emin7 A7
    Dmin7 G7
    Dmin7 G7
    Emin7 A7
    Emin7 A7
    Amin7 D7

    breaks cycle

    Aflat7 Dflat7
    C
    Ehalf dim A7flat9

    Please don't think that it's in vain, with the theory your taking in. It's frustrating without the application part, but once you see that the majority of 'western' music follows this pattern, it starts to make transcribing a cinch.
     
  5. Correlli

    Correlli

    Apr 2, 2004
    New Zealand
    circle of fifths ia all the notes of the Diatonic scale and Modes, organised into Tonic (root) and the 5th Interval positions.

    C G D A E B F# Db Ab Eb Bb F

    It's is just an "organisation" of notes, which creates a perfect pattern. Tonic - 5th

    T = Tonic (root)

    Code:
    
    T   5th
    C   G
    
    T   5th
    G   D
    
    T   5th
    D   A
    
    etc...
    
    T   5th
    F   C
    
    
    I hope that helps you to understand the idea behind it.
     
  6. yoshi

    yoshi

    Jul 12, 2002
    England, London
    Thanks a lot for all the recommendations and pieces of info. Mucho aprreciated.

    I'll print out the epic lessons posted by Jazzbo next time I'm near a printer and work through them.

    My basslines are fairly, erm, 'technical' for the most part, and tend to be conceived through chance whilst jamming - I remember them, of course!

    as for hearing and such, I think I'm tone deaf - I cannot tune by ear and cannot determine intervals. I've tried to in the past, but just failed miserably. I have been tormented by persistant ear problems since a kid, though that doesn't excuse laziness.

    Though I will learn some theory, I am, on the whole, ignorant and have no passion to be a 'serious musician': jamming's good 'nuff for me! ..at least I'm honest, though that contradicts my plea for theory learning somewhat :p

    thanks again!