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What else is there to learn?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by iceshaft07, Mar 12, 2008.

  1. iceshaft07


    Mar 4, 2007
    Hey everyone, I have been studying general music theory on an off for a year now, and I don't know what to study next. Call it my naivity, but I don't know what else is left!

    I understand the following:
    Major Chords
    Minor Chords
    Sus 2 Chords (not quite where to use them)
    Sus 4 Chords (not quite where to use them)
    Diminished Chords
    Augmented Chords
    (and all the inversions)

    Major Scale
    Dorian Scale
    Phrygian Scale
    Lydian Scale
    Mixolydian Scale
    Aeolian Scale
    Locrian Scale

    I understand the whole I ii iii IV V vi vii[SUP]o[/SUP] and how they relate to the scales and chords.

    I mean, I don't know what else there is, this seems to me to be the gist of music theory.

    I understand there are various rhtyhms and progressions -- Is this where to head next?
  2. jongor


    Jan 11, 2003
    I got back to taking lessons recently and one of the first things my instructor had me work on was identifying intervals by ear.

    This is trickier than I anticipated, and I think will take some time to develop.

    I found a tool online called Functional Ear Trainer that's come in very handy for this.
  3. cowsgomoo

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    maybe start with learning how sus2 and sus4 chords function... what they 'mean' and where they resolve to etc...

    i'll give you a few.. this is by no means an exhaustive list

    maybe next you start pushing at the boundaries of diatonic harmony... I mean, you understand how all the 'normal' chords work, so start studying instances where a piece uses a chord that doesn't contain all the notes within the key... and work out why those chords work

    for example, secondary dominants, which turn up everywhere either as fully fledged dominant 7 chords or as little fragments of harmony... from Duke Ellington, through the Beatles to the Foo Fighters, secondary dominants are everywhere

    in fact, you don't mention 7th chords at all, which is really where music only gets interesting :)

    and you don't mention harmonic minor/melodic minor, whole tone or any of the other non major-scale derived harmonic environments

    study what happens when you don't even have a defined tonal centre... study the effects of time on perceived harmonic environment... i.e. if you pound out a C, G and Bb, with no 3rd.... for 5 minutes, then throw in ONE Eb note... then continue pounding C, G & Bb for another 5 minutes... what chord does your ear tell you you're using? does it retain the memory of a Cm7 chord? or does that harmonic environment 'wear off' over time?

    experiment... and always let your ear be your guide! these theoretical things only exist to help describe & organise,,, in themselves they're useless, so always relate them to lovely hearable music

    play with bitonal environments.. they're always fun.... superimpose one chord over a totally unrelated chord and listen to what happens... if you like it, try to find another set of chords to move to... listen and work out why it works

    play around with chromatic alteration... if you flatten any one note of a diminished 7 chord, you get a dominant 7 chord on the note you altered... this kind of thing is a great way of sliding in and out of different harmonic environments
  4. Snarf


    Jan 23, 2005
    Glen Cove, NY
    You haven't even started to take the first step toward scratching the surface. :)
  5. c_joseph_lier


    Aug 7, 2007
    If you feel like there is nothing left to learn, then you are either bored with bass or in a slump ... ear training, song writing, recording, mixing, EQing, these are all things that take time to learn, and not everyone can do 100% great, and they all involve the bass ... or, try learning a new instrument, and then apply what ou learned to bass ... i get excited whenever i think about playing or practicing and have for 20 years now ... Find that Fire that you need ... good luck
  6. iceshaft07


    Mar 4, 2007
    Sorry, I should have been clearer. i meant music theory only, necessarily mixing or various playing techniques.

    Believe me, I recognize that there is a lot to learn, I just want to be pointed in a direction as far as sheet music stuff & relationship stuff. It's tough to learn something new when you don't even know what your looking for!
  7. DocBop


    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Oh grasshopper you have only scratched the surface. The great thing about music is the more you learn the more you realize you don't know. Just the little you have mentioned can you spell all those scales in 12 keys. Can you spell those chords in 12 keys. Can you rattle off instantly the chord of simple progression like I, IV, V in all 12 keys. Can you hear all the basic chord types say what they are. Can you explain how major and minor scales are constructed. Now can you play those scale on a single string, two strings. What are the basic chord substitutions for the diatonic chords. If given a chord chart even a song you know can you analyze the chord progress in Roman numerals. If I tell you the key and play a simple chord progression can you tell me the chord progression.

    That is what you are claiming to know and that is just basic music theory and musicianship.
  8. mambo4


    Jun 9, 2006

    It sounds like you know enough about the theory, now you should probably focus on application. It's in your mind but is it in your fingers and ears?

    Find out how theory applies to music others have made.
    Learn lots of songs and bass parts and analyze them from a theory perspective -My song books are full of scribbled roman numerals and such. This can help develop an ear for common progressions (I-IV-V, I-vi-ii-V, etc....) so that you recognize them pretty easily. (Although the original performer likely made it up without analysis.)

    I play in a pop/rock context, and Practically speaking I know way more theory than I am ever forced to use. 95% of the time It's all about getting from one root note to the next in an appropriately groovy fashion. You clearly know enough Theory for that.
  9. Liko


    Mar 30, 2007
    Yep. Now that you know the quality of intervals and chords and how they're used to harmonize a key, the next two things to learn regarding chord theory are "chords as a movement of voices", which leads to chord progressions.

    This isn't so important on guitar, as chords are generally pretty standardized, but it is critical for vocal harmony. A chord can be thought of as the movement of independent voices. This is accomplished through inversion. Picture a C triad; CEG. Pretty straightforward. Now instead of the G being on top of the triad, place it an octave down. It's still a C chord, but it's inverted; the first inversion actually. Drop the E an octave too and you're in second inversion. The sound of the chord changes, but the notes and therefore the quality of the chord are the same between inversions.

    Why does this matter? Because inversions of chords allow you to move one or two voices one step and get a completely different chord, without parallel movement of all voices. For instance, G is the V chord of the key of C (and C is the IV chord of the key of G). To move between the G chord and the C chord, start with a G chord and move the third and fifth to the fourth and sixth. The notes have moved from GBD (Gmaj) to GCE (Cmaj, 1st inv) and you didn't move the G. This is how harmonizing chord progressions for voice works.

    Back to the G-C example, you'll see that because the chords are so similar in pitch when arranged, it sounds very harmonious to play one after the other. Thus we say that G proceeds to C very well. G, being the fourth chord of the key of D, progresses similarly well to D (in the key of G, the D chord is the V chord). You could probably guess that if you know your circle of fifths. The circle shows you, for any key, how to construct a I-IV-V progression, and if you know where to look it shows you other chords as well:


    Let's use the key of C for simplicity. You'll see that F, the fourth, is one step counter-clock, and G, the fifth, is one step clockwise. The harmonized chords for those notes in the key of C are the IV and V chords respectively. You probably have already learned this, as I said, if your lesson book covers the circle of fifths in any depth.

    Now, from G, look at the next step, D. D is the second of the key of C, and has two major chords used in Western music. The minor chord (dmin) is the ii chord. It progresses well from the IV chord (having the fourth and sixth of the key in common) and is commonly used in a ii-IV-I progression as part of a song (it's generally not an overarching progression like I-IV-V). The major chord, II, is known as the five-of-five, and a glance at the chart will show you why; D is the fifth of the fifth of the key of C. the II chord is used widely to change keys; if you want to move your melody up a full step, find a reason to use the V chord before it normally resolves to I, then instead of returning to the I chord your melody starts on, move to the II chord and from that point treat D as the root. You're now in the key of D. The II also has other uses.

    The next step beyond D is A. A is the sixth if the key of C. It is important because A is the root of the minor key with the same signature (sharps/flats) as C. for this reason, the harmonized vi chord is also prevalent even in major keys, and from that, we get sixth chords (cmaj6) that allow us to progress to minor chords, or back to the I chord (a 6th chord will generally have the root and sixth in common with both the IV and I chords).

    And the step beyond that is E. E is the third of the key of C. Harmonized within that key, it's a minor chord (iii) and progresses well from the V chord, having the 3rd and 5th of the key in common. it also forms the basis for seventh chords; CMaj7 includes all three notes of the iii chord. The dominant seventh of the iii chord is the second of the key, making Emin7 a good progression to I, ii, IV or V.

    As you can see, there's a lot still to learn that would be useful in writing songs and sightreading for guitar or bass.
  10. AlphaMale


    Oct 30, 2006
    Ventura County
    hahaa lmao.

    Wow haha so funny I had to tell my mom.

    Haha. I dunno I think if the kid did know a lot of theory he would know the Lydian and the majority of the scales he listed are modes.

    An important easy place could be to learn the blues and harmonic minor scale too as far as the basics.

    Hm... You can always learn neopolitan chords.

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