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seven_strings
04-16-2003, 02:14 PM
Hello.... I have been really trying hard to learn over the past weeks. So far i have learned the treble clef and all the time sigs and markings and what they mean, ive learned the circle of fifths , scales and modes , and basic chord construction. But I can't seem to put it all together. Charting is one thing ... but I'm having trouble naming chords, and I dont understand progressions yet really. I guess what I'm asking is, what is the best way to go to a higher understanding from the point I'm at. What direction am I missing:mad:

Doug McMullen
04-16-2003, 03:49 PM
Hey seven,

A couple of things:

First -- a focussed question would be good... it's a lot easier to answer a question like: "what is a cadence?" than it is to answer a question like: "what do I not get about harmony?"

Second -- more time and effort -- music and music theory are big subjects, they aren't assimilated comfortably in a matter of weeks for most people.

Third -- The key IMHO to understanding things (or to improve physical technique for that matter) is to focus on a particular subject and explore it...hold it up to the light and turn it at different angles... investigate, or as Bach used to say: Ricercar.

Theory is a tool kit... you can read all about
"The theory of the wrench"... you can get a comprehensive encyclopedia of all wrenches through history all neatly labelled... or you can get down with a wrench and fix your bicycle and learn a lot about how a wrench actually works... nobody ever became a master mechanic by just reading about it, or overnight.

But hey, you did ask a focussed question "what direction am I missing" and to answer that question: to me it sounds like you are doing GREAT. The only angle you're missing is patience, and a little respect for the task at hand. Seriously, you're completely on the right track... it's as though you're walking from New York to San Francisco and you're making really good time... great, but it's a little worrying however that you've started asking "are we there yet?" somewhere in New Jersey. ;)


Doug.

hol0point
04-16-2003, 04:05 PM
You sound somewhat like me. I know alot of different chords, scales, etc but I didnt Understand How They Work. I'm the type of person that has to Get It in order to Use It. I suggest starting where I started. The Intervals article by Guni(see below). Great article and the fretboard is finally starting to make a Little sense to me now.


http://www.ibreathemusic.com/learn/article/31

Wyll_Watts
04-16-2003, 08:55 PM
I and a few of my students have found it best to learn theory in the context of a song or tune. My teaching and learning methods are all based on contextual analysis. Take a simple song and just pick it apart using what you know, and always apply what you are learning to actual guitar playing. One reason I think Guni's interval article is so great is that it has a large focus on actually seeing intervals on the guitar. Writing intervals and formulas on paper will only take you so far. Take a favorite song that isn't too complicated and identify the intervals, the pattern they show in the guitar, how it sounds in the context of the sound and all that.
Doug's advice was great, especially the trip analogy. Don't get to overwhelmed or bogged down in the theory, make sure you spend a much or more time playing something on guitar as you do studying theory and formulas and all that good stuff.

Good Luck!
Wyll

seven_strings
04-16-2003, 10:39 PM
Thank you very much guys for the fast reply. I was just feeling a bit inferior in the sight of the vast world of theory, and you men know how we get when we feel stupid lol. These answers did help me and im going to take it in stride knowing ill get my answers from persistance and patience .... thanks alot guys ;)

Bongo Boy
05-10-2003, 04:45 AM
Originally posted by seven_strings
So far i have learned the treble clef and all the time sigs and markings and what they mean, ive learned the circle of fifths , scales and modes , and basic chord construction. But I can't seem to put it all together.Well stop for a moment and think about what you're saying here. Treble clef and time signatures are topics at one end of a huge spectrum. You've then gotten into scales and modes--much further down the spectrum. In a few weeks you couldn't possibly have even scratched the surface of scales and modes in terms of where an how they're used (well, it could just be that I'm even dumber than I think I am). Then you've added in 'basic chord construction'. Another big topic.


... but I'm having trouble naming chords, and I dont understand progressions yet really.Uh...no kidding. If you look at more than three or four sources of music theory, chord naming alone will freak you out. I've been looking at it for well over a year and still have not seen enough notation to feel comfortable with the variations used for chords. C'mon, it's quite a lot of stuff. And chord progressions? Sure, there's some basic chord progressions out of the textbook, but to look at some actual music and tell what's really going on isn't just going to happen in a few weeks!


I guess what I'm asking is, what is the best way to go to a higher understanding from the point I'm at. What direction am I missing:mad:What you're missing is the 99.99% of the path you still have left to travel! Unless you have nothing else to do, I'd say a few weeks could be spent on learning chord naming and construction alone just to get familiar with how that works for major scales. But even if you did that, I don't think that means "you've got it"--you'll have to use it, too, for it to ever get integrated into useful thinking.

As far as chord progressions, you can just look at 'standard' progressions and memorize what they are, OR you can start with the ideas of voice leading, tension, resolution and how this is all connected to intervals. Now, I find I have to do both of these. For example, take a ii-V-I. First I get to know what a 'ii', a 'V' and a 'I' are and why they're written that way. Then I learn to write down the actual chord names for a variety of ii-V-I progressions.

I have no idea at this point why this sequence of chords is useful or interesting. But that can come immediately after at least knowing the basics of what these chords are. The problem is, you then won't settle for some crappy simplistic explanation of a ii-V-I that basically says "it's popular". You'll want to know what's going on in that progression in terms of resolution, etc. So...3 chords, one progression, many topics and much study. This isn't how YOU will learn best, it's just an example of what's involved for me with fairly "simple" topics.

It's not that it's rocket science--but I just wouldn't expect to skim the surface of 12 topics and then expect to integrate them into a Unified Field Theorem that all hangs together and makes sense. I mean I ran into an example of 'tritone' and 'flat 5th' being used interchangeably and it blew my world apart for several days. Okay--a bit of drama. But you get my point :D

Bongo Boy
05-10-2003, 05:10 AM
Originally posted by Doug McMullen
it's as though you're walking from New York to San Francisco and you're making really good time... great, but it's a little worrying however that you've started asking "are we there yet?" somewhere in New Jersey. ;)A wonderful quote! I mean, it's not like you ended up in Detroit or something! :D

Oh, and prepare yourself for when you actually DO get to San Francisco and realize you forgot something important in Kansas City. It's the journey, not the destination.

szulc
05-10-2003, 12:23 PM
The ii V I is an example of a diatonic cycle 4 progression!

I suggest that you take some music you like and analyze it using the theory you already know. It doesn't really matter what the music is, just something you really like. Figure out what key (or keys ) it is in, is it Major or Minor (one or more of the modes?), then try to analyze the chord progression to see what the structure is. Write out the structure on paper, it may take a while to get it right. Analyze the rhythm and meter. I am not really suggesting transcription here, just an insightful understanding of how the piece was constructed and what is the theoretical basis for the the progressions. I did this years ago with pieces like 'Presto from the Violin Partita' by JS BACH. It really helped me understand, this is a solos single note (mostly) piece, no chords, but I worked out the harmony based on the melody, to understand the chord progression that BACH was implying. All music is based on some template or theory, discovering that hidden template or theory is quite rewarding. Later on after you have taken this journey you will be able to write music in the styles you have analyzed.

The Bash
05-11-2003, 06:42 PM
I gotta back James up on that.
I do the same thing, take tunes rip em up see what makes em tick. To me this is theory. To me evey good player knows some theory cause they know this goes with that. This=that sound.
They may not beable to write it out on paper but they have some understanding.
However knowing some theory in the more schooled manner makes coummincation easier (Erics idea) as well as safey net between less inspired moments (more or less James Idea).
Two ideas I myself agree with 100%.

Bongo Boy
05-13-2003, 12:32 AM
Not that's it's an important differentiation, but I'd say that knowing "this goes with that" isn't theory, but that theory attempts to provide the rationale for why this goes with that.

When the theory is applied, and indeed this does go with that as predicted (and it's repeatable), then the theory is also practical.