# what exactly is music theory?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by kearney, Nov 4, 2004.

1. ### kearney

Jul 5, 2004
yeah, im in the dark on this one, can someone tell me what it is? i think theres a class on it at my school, maybe i could take it next year if you guys reccomend it

Jul 27, 2004
Moorpark CA
3. ### fulcrum

Yeah, what he said.

I've yet to hear a bassist who was artistically or stylistically crippled by learning theory. It will also make your transition to other instruments much easier, if you ever decide to pursue instruments other than bass.

4. ### MunjibungaTotal Hyper-Elite MemberGold Supporting Member

May 6, 2000
San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
Music is just a theory. It's never been proven.

5. ### Nick GannTalkbass' Tubist in Residence

Mar 24, 2002
Silver Spring, MD
Music theory is all about how different sounds and silences work together to form music. Take the course. You will NOT regret it.

(moved to General Instruction)

6. ### geoffkhan

Music theory is what makes music tick. You can play songs from sheet music note for note, but with music theory, you can understand how the song works.

7. ### Correlli

Apr 2, 2004
New Zealand
Western music is based on the Twelve-Tone Equal Temerament (12-TET). This is a schema by which an Octave is divided into series of equal frequency ratios. The calculation for the below values is a bit complex, so I havn't gone into much detail about that.

12-TET Decimal Values
--------------------------------
Unison - 1
Minor second - 1.059463
Major second - 1.122462
Minor third - 1.189207
Major third - 1.259921
Perfect fourth - 1.334840
Diminished - 1.414214
Perfect fifth - 1.498307
Minor sixth - 1.587401
Major sixth - 1.681793
Minor seventh - 1.781797
Major seventh - 1.887749
Octave - 2.000000

Examples:

(Open A)55hz * 1.498307 = (D) 82.04hz
440hz * 2.0 = 880hz

Bass guitar open string frequencies
-----------------------------------
B = 31hz

E = 41hz

A = 55hz

D = 73hz

G = 98hz

C = 131hz

There is also another shema called Just Intonation Tuning, which is not as flexible as 12-TET.

(0) 1:1 - unison
(1) 135:128 - major chroma
(2) 9:8 - major second
(3) 6:5 - minor third
(4) 5:4 - major third
(5) 4:3 - perfect fourth
(6) 45:32 - diatonic tritone
(7) 3:2 - perfect fifth
(8) 8:5 - minor sixth
(9) 27:16 - major sixth
(10) 9:5 - minor seventh
(11) 15:8 - major seventh
(12) 2:1 - octave

Example:

55hz * (3/2) = 82.5Hz

If you want to know more, Google "Twelve-Tone Equal Temerament"

8. ### cowsgomoogone to Longstanton Spice Museum

Feb 8, 2003
UK
theory is very useful for a bass player in particular because you'll likely spend a lot of your musical life attempting to play complementary figures to other people's idea of what music is

so you generally need to be able to have a framework that enables you to make sense of what people are giving you... it's not like being a guitarist, where your communication with other musicians consists of saying "it goes like this...." *NYAANNNGG*.... *BRANNNNNGGGG*

9. ### geoffkhan

Not sure if that'll help me play music, though...

10. ### mattmcnewf

May 27, 2004
its help when u want to remember a song because its much easier to remember patternes than just random notes.
Also it helps when u want to communicate with other muscians.

11. ### Correlli

Apr 2, 2004
New Zealand
Sorry about that. Got a bit carried away. Another interesting fact, musicians in Ancient Greek times, had to be mathematicians as well.

12. ### ogyen

I think the most useful way to think about theory is that it is a means of explaining the sounds that we hear. It is a way to understand more thoroughly the music we play/write/hear, which means we can communicate those things more clearly.