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Thread: Is there a method?

  1. #16
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    It is better to know theory but not be restricted to it. I was wondering if it would be cool if you didnt know any and you just freely play any note. But I like harmonic minor, diminished arpeggios, I REALLY really like the whole tone scale... And you might or might not happen to find those things that way. So you would be missing some nice sounds.

    I got a DVD of Christian Howes ( jazz violinist ) live in Madrid from the library and I liked the way they improvise alot. The pianist was great too. But I like the style of classical more than jazz. It would be cool to improvise alot but with more of a classical music style. I read that Paganini improvised alot. Classical musicians do not improvise often.
    Last edited by AndyPollow; 03-24-2010 at 11:42 PM.

  2. #17
    IbreatheMusic Author ChrisJ's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndyPollow View Post
    It is better to know theory but not be restricted to it.
    Theory serves two purposes. If you want to think restrictive, it can restrict you from venturing out of a particular style when composing. In other words, if you adhere to theory representative of the the Baroque period, you can sound like Bach. If you ignore it, you will have a much more difficult time composing true to a particular period.

    But as an improviser, it can only add, not subtract or be restrictive really. A good understanding of theory will give you choices. Your ears would probably take way more time to discover certain things. Personally, I don't imagine I would be able to use the melodic minor scale if I had let my ears dictate what scales to play. I discovered it through theory, and by practicing it, learned how to make it work using my ears. But the discovery was based on theory, while my ears helped me to use it effectively.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyPollow View Post
    I was wondering if it would be cool if you didnt know any and you just freely play any note.
    Re-tune your guitar and become a child again. I tune to DADGAD and have fun not knowing anything. I'm back to being 12 years old and trying to find nice chords or scales.

    Quote Originally Posted by AndyPollow View Post
    It would be cool to improvise alot but with more of a classical music style. I read that Paganini improvised alot. Classical musicians do not improvise often.
    Maybe modern day classical musicians don't improvise, but it is not true of the classical musicians years ago. Bach used figured bass and improvised the voicings in-between. There were many improvised passages in classical music, still based on a set of chords.

  3. #18
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    I agree with ChrisJ, and perhaps I'm going further, but I would say theory is a huge help and never a hindrance. Certainly not a hindrance to anyone's artistic creativity.

    Imho - theory is not just a musical language for the purpose of musicians talking to one-another. More importantly it's a way for each of us as individuals to make sense of what we are actually doing when we try to create music.

    Not knowing theory is really like stumbling around blindly in the dark, hoping to find needles in haystacks ... as a creative method of making music it's far too hit and miss.

    Of course, if you do play like that without formal theory, then eventually you may learn by trial and error what sounds you like, and you may finally create some good music that way. I'm sure that plenty of old blues guys used that route through their whole lives.

    But that does doesn't make it a good or sensible method.

    I don't think you need to know a vast amount of the most complex and deep music theory, perhaps you do, or perhaps you don't. But just knowing the basic theory of chords, keys, scales and intervals etc., allows you to analyse printed music and work out what famous musicians actually did when composing and playing songs. And it allows you to understand & make sense of what you yourself are doing when you play.

    It opens up all sorts of possibilities that you might not have thought of if your theory knowledge was lacking ... eg because I know some theory I might try playing over a dominant-7 altered chord with a diminished scale or with melodic minor up a half step ... otherwise, playing just by trial and error I'd have to fish around in the dark with all sorts of jumbled and vague ideas of what to play ... in fact I did that for years, and got precisely nowhere.

    Ian.

  4. #19
    Registered User TheAristocrat's Avatar
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    In my opinion theory is like grammar in a language, if knowing it, you cannot be creative or expressive, then you yourself do not possess the musical ability you strive for. A tad harsh, perhaps, but, to blame theory would be a lie.

    Regards

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crossroads View Post
    I agree with ChrisJ, and perhaps I'm going further, but I would say theory is a huge help and never a hindrance. Certainly not a hindrance to anyone's artistic creativity.

    Imho - theory is not just a musical language for the purpose of musicians talking to one-another. More importantly it's a way for each of us as individuals to make sense of what we are actually doing when we try to create music.

    Not knowing theory is really like stumbling around blindly in the dark, hoping to find needles in haystacks ... as a creative method of making music it's far too hit and miss.

    Of course, if you do play like that without formal theory, then eventually you may learn by trial and error what sounds you like, and you may finally create some good music that way. I'm sure that plenty of old blues guys used that route through their whole lives.

    But that does doesn't make it a good or sensible method.

    I don't think you need to know a vast amount of the most complex and deep music theory, perhaps you do, or perhaps you don't. But just knowing the basic theory of chords, keys, scales and intervals etc., allows you to analyse printed music and work out what famous musicians actually did when composing and playing songs. And it allows you to understand & make sense of what you yourself are doing when you play.

    It opens up all sorts of possibilities that you might not have thought of if your theory knowledge was lacking ... eg because I know some theory I might try playing over a dominant-7 altered chord with a diminished scale or with melodic minor up a half step ... otherwise, playing just by trial and error I'd have to fish around in the dark with all sorts of jumbled and vague ideas of what to play ... in fact I did that for years, and got precisely nowhere.

    Ian.
    different methods suit different people. it need not be stumbling in the dark. if you imagine a sound and can reproduce it, that's all you need. theory imo shouldn't tell you what to play. you oculd call it fishing around in the dark, but you can get really really good at fishing around in the dark, so good you don't make mistakes.

    music i don't find is something you can make sense of. it is not a science. it is just sounds. that's why you can break so many rules. the 'rules' are just guidelines for most frequent usages of certain sounds. which are not unimportant to learn. but it is not the secret of how music is created or what makes it work. this secret lies in teh human mind.

    don't forget, music came first. theory was developped as a result of that. humans began without theory. refiguring it all out alone for yourself can be done. but it is slow. mankind took quite a few generations to build the theory we have now.

    but theory is not creativity. theory is how to 'vocalize' creativity. how to translate the thoughts into sounds on your instrument.

    you can use it to build music, but this imo is no more art than a computer improvising is art. and computers can do this. but this is not really music imo. it is not real art. and depending on theory to tell you what to do creates this sort of music. technically fine, but lacking something special.

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by fingerpikingood View Post
    different methods suit different people. it need not be stumbling in the dark. if you imagine a sound and can reproduce it, that's all you need. theory imo shouldn't tell you what to play. you oculd call it fishing around in the dark, but you can get really really good at fishing around in the dark, so good you don't make mistakes.

    music i don't find is something you can make sense of. it is not a science. it is just sounds. that's why you can break so many rules. the 'rules' are just guidelines for most frequent usages of certain sounds. which are not unimportant to learn. but it is not the secret of how music is created or what makes it work. this secret lies in teh human mind.

    don't forget, music came first. theory was developped as a result of that. humans began without theory. refiguring it all out alone for yourself can be done. but it is slow. mankind took quite a few generations to build the theory we have now.

    but theory is not creativity. theory is how to 'vocalize' creativity. how to translate the thoughts into sounds on your instrument.

    you can use it to build music, but this imo is no more art than a computer improvising is art. and computers can do this. but this is not really music imo. it is not real art. and depending on theory to tell you what to do creates this sort of music. technically fine, but lacking something special.
    As always, we totally disagree .

    But I'd prefer to let others decide what they think makes most sense (rather than debate it) .

    Ian.

  7. #22
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Had by-pass surgery awhile back. Looked around for a surgeon, found one that had a knack for this kind of stuff. Found another that actually went to medical school. Which one would you have chosen?

    Appendectomy - most scrub nurses could do the surgery, cut here, clamp there and snip that off. Piece of cake until something goes wrong. It's then you need somebody that has had the years of training.

    Someone said, there are enough notes in the major scale to provide everything we need. Trick is to know how to use them. Theory by its self is not enough, having a knack for this stuff is not enough. Now using both with a little technique and experience thrown in and .........
    Last edited by Malcolm; 03-25-2010 at 06:30 PM.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Crossroads View Post
    As always, we totally disagree .

    But I'd prefer to let others decide what they think makes most sense (rather than debate it) .

    Ian.
    I'll agree with Ian, for whatever that is worth

  9. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    Had by-pass surgery awhile back. Looked around for a surgeon, found one that had a knack for this kind of stuff. Found another that actually went to medical school. Which one would you have chosen?
    I hope you went for the guy with medical school

  10. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by gersdal View Post
    I hope you went for the guy with medical school
    So do I ... otherwise I doubt if he'd still be with us! ... hey Malcolm, hope you're OK mate?

    Ian.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm View Post
    Someone said, there are enough notes in the major scale to provide everything we need. Trick is to know how to use them.
    I could go on.......
    Well for me, when I started playing, the "trick" was to know that the major scale even existed (I'd never heard of it!).

    So it really was a case of coming home from the shop with that first guitar, sticking the Clapton LP on the turntable, and then thinking "what on earth do I do now!" .... you might as well of handed me a violin and told me that having heard a Vivaldi recording, I should now "just play it".

    And actually it stayed that way, completely fishing in the dark, for about a decade. True, I found an "intuitive" way of playing my own songs. But it was million miles from what I was really hoping to achieve.

    Ian.

  12. #27
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    These are interesting comments. Everyone has their own method to making and comprehending music.

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