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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
  2. 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.
  3. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold 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.
  4. Nick Gann

    Nick Gann Talkbass' 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)
  5. 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.
  6. 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


    (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


    55hz * (3/2) = 82.5Hz

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

    cowsgomoo gone to Longstanton Spice Museum

    Feb 8, 2003
    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*

  8. Not sure if that'll help me play music, though... :)
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.