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Old 11-07-2013, 08:43 AM #1
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Music Theory... Is it Necessary?

Why study music theory?


Contrary to what some people may say learning music theory does not reduce your ability to enjoy music. In fact you may enjoy music even more after you learn some theory because the more you know about how music works the more you will be able to do as a musician.

There are many reasons to study music theory but the top reasons are:

1.You will be a better performer. - If you don't know much music theory and you are playing some music and you encounter a passage that has the notes C, E, and G, you would have to mentally process those three notes separately, and this will slow down your ability to perform. If a musician who knows music theory plays the same passage they would instantly recognize that the notes C, E, and G make up a C Major chord and they would play those notes more easily because it took less mental effort to understand the music. Music theory makes learning, practicing and performing much easier.


2.You will have more options as a musician. - All musical activities will be much easier. Performing, composing, improvising, arranging, teaching music, or getting a music degree will be much easier if you know music theory.
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Old 11-17-2013, 01:14 PM #2
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Most people who listen to music have a better understanding of theory than you give them credit, you become familiarized and develop your ears, whether you can explain your sound or not. That's why many guitarists can't tell you what chords they're playing, but experience and memory allows them to recognize each note and instantly know the sound all over the board without worrying about what notes make up what chord. I've never once seen someone listen to music and go "this makes so much sense, C B and A!"

I think you're more referring to show and blow robots, not artists like Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, who couldn't read music, needed help with chord names, and had others transcribe their music. If you're going to play French horn in a symphony and don't know the songs, no doubt studying music theory will put you ahead of the game.
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Old 11-17-2013, 02:07 PM #3
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Lol just because u enjoy music does not mean that there isn't theory behind it. In that reasoning any off note set of audible wave lengths could be seen as music. I could enjoy the sound of a fog horn being played repeatedly does that make it music? No. Theory allows us to distinguish every day sounds from musical composition.

If you play music then you already have a basis of theory. You have learn to string notes or cords together to make it pleasing. Just because someone hasn't tonight u this said theory dose to mean it's not present in all forms of music.
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Old 11-17-2013, 02:09 PM #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stagger Lee View Post
Most people who listen to music have a better understanding of theory than you give them credit, you become familiarized and develop your ears, whether you can explain your sound or not. That's why many guitarists can't tell you what chords they're playing, but experience and memory allows them to recognize each note and instantly know the sound all over the board without worrying about what notes make up what chord. I've never once seen someone listen to music and go "this makes so much sense, C B and A!" I think you're more referring to show and blow robots, not artists like Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, who couldn't read music, needed help with chord names, and had others transcribe their music. If you're going to play French horn in a symphony and don't know the songs, no doubt studying music theory will put you ahead of the game.
In no way was I attempting to say that theory isn't realized by all who enjoy music. I was simply implying that theory is intertwined with all music if it is intentional or not
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Old 11-19-2013, 09:57 AM #5
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Being trained in your art is not a bad thing by any means. I think there is much more to music than stringing together "pleasing" ideas. The dark side is music for music's sake and music for musicians. Vapid. I'm looking at you jazz.

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Old 11-19-2013, 01:48 PM #6
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In no way was I attempting to say that theory isn't realized by all who enjoy music. I was simply implying that theory is intertwined with all music if it is intentional or not
Music theory is simply an attempt to understand why things sound good. It has little to do with the construction of music other than using your knowledge of why something invokes a certain emotion to help construct a certain environment for a song.

Theory is intertwined with every aspect of everything we perceive. Musical theory is only intertwined for those who study and use it.

That being said, understanding musical theory can do nothing by help a musician. If a part of a song is struggling to achieve the impact you want, your knowledge of theory can help you achieve that sound.

Some people say it is limiting, which can be true, but I don't believe it's the case for most serious musicians. I always recommend people study it, though I've studied very little myself.
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Old 11-19-2013, 01:53 PM #7
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Originally Posted by bubbalee30003 View Post
Lol just because u enjoy music does not mean that there isn't theory behind it. In that reasoning any off note set of audible wave lengths could be seen as music. I could enjoy the sound of a fog horn being played repeatedly does that make it music? No. Theory allows us to distinguish every day sounds from musical composition.

If you play music then you already have a basis of theory. You have learn to string notes or cords together to make it pleasing. Just because someone hasn't tonight u this said theory dose to mean it's not present in all forms of music.
Wow what a cluster**** of unintelligible sentences.

Anyways. He wasn't negating that there isn't theory behind it. He's simply stated that knowing the academics behind the theory isn't necessary because any good musician with an ear for sound is going to come to the same conclusions, just in their own way. It's that little detail that shapes people's styles creates individuality between artists.

And I disagree with your assertion that everyday sounds cannot form musical composition. Music is an auditory experience that isn't merely limited to notes progressing in a formulated manner. In fact, the vast majority of the music I find enjoyable often goes against the grain of general practices and theories, often using "noise" and other elements to paint a far more vast soundscape than what theory can provide on paper. Dissonance can be just as pleasing. It's all subjective, and based entirely upon an individual's own imagination and preferences.
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Old 11-19-2013, 02:05 PM #8
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And I disagree with your assertion that everyday sounds cannot form musical composition. Music is an auditory experience that isn't merely limited to notes progressing in a formulated manner. In fact, the vast majority of the music I find enjoyable often goes against the grain of general practices and theories, often using "noise" and other elements to paint a far more vast soundscape than what theory can provide on paper. Dissonance can be just as pleasing. It's all subjective, and based entirely upon an individual's own imagination and preferences.
The chorus of "Empty Vessels Make the Loudest Sound" comes to mind here. Absolutely beautiful harmonies for the vocal part during the chorus, but clashes with a simple wall of distorted noise coming from the right channel via guitar/synth/whatever effect is being used there. It creates such an odd sensation of destructive beauty that I couldn't see musical theory properly explaining, as the wall of distorted noise is rather incoherently sliding up and down through a few select "notes" without any rhythmic pattern.

Without the vocal harmony over the piece, the chorus would sound like utter nonsense, but it somehow works and becomes an extremely powerful piece. I've listened to the song hundreds and hundreds of times and I still get the same strange feeling every time the chorus comes up. It's indescribable, which I think is why I enjoy it.

I love a musician that can blend chaos with order and create a defined, specific mood that I've never felt utilized in music before. I don't know why I like things like this, but I have my doubts that any amount of musical theory would properly explain it.
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Old 11-19-2013, 02:26 PM #9
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Like many things in life, it's not something that can be explained without the use of experimental hallucinogenic drugs.
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Old 11-21-2013, 11:56 AM #10
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I prefer to plug in to the Matrix.
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Old 11-21-2013, 12:03 PM #11
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I prefer to plug in to the Matrix.
Is that some sort of gay innuendo?
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Old 11-21-2013, 12:32 PM #12
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Is that some sort of gay innuendo?
There's an app for that.

It's called the Holey Trinity.
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Old 11-21-2013, 01:29 PM #13
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There's an app for that.

It's called the Holey Trinity.
That sounds right "up" my "alley."
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Old 11-21-2013, 06:38 PM #14
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Can I take the "highway" to your "danger zone?"
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Old 11-22-2013, 09:40 AM #15
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Originally Posted by komodo_117 View Post
Wow what a cluster**** of unintelligible sentences.

Anyways. He wasn't negating that there isn't theory behind it. He's simply stated that knowing the academics behind the theory isn't necessary because any good musician with an ear for sound is going to come to the same conclusions, just in their own way. It's that little detail that shapes people's styles creates individuality between artists.

And I disagree with your assertion that everyday sounds cannot form musical composition. Music is an auditory experience that isn't merely limited to notes progressing in a formulated manner. In fact, the vast majority of the music I find enjoyable often goes against the grain of general practices and theories, often using "noise" and other elements to paint a far more vast soundscape than what theory can provide on paper. Dissonance can be just as pleasing. It's all subjective, and based entirely upon an individual's own imagination and preferences.
I believe that's why it's referred to as music theory rather than music law
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Old 11-22-2013, 12:29 PM #16
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I'm glad I took some time to learn music theory but there's diminishing returns as music is(or should be) more about expressing emotions/atmosphere than solving a puzzle.

Obviously won't improve your technique if you play an instrument. Does help you enjoy more complex music and write/arrange/improvise.
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Old 11-26-2013, 11:57 AM #17
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as a music major ive found theory to a...difficult but necessary adjustment to my musicianship. i could read music just fine but understanding intervals and how chords build off of one another helps my sightreading immensely.
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Old 12-02-2013, 09:18 AM #18
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The real benefit to learn music theory isn't exactly about enjoying music more, its about understanding your music on a more fundamental level. It's also about being able to share your musical ideas in a standardized way. It's definitely not required to write good songs, but it helps.
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Old 12-02-2013, 09:31 AM #19
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The real benefit to learn music theory isn't exactly about enjoying music more, its about understanding your music on a more fundamental level. It's also about being able to share your musical ideas in a standardized way. It's definitely not required to write good songs, but it helps.
Agreed
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Old 01-25-2014, 08:30 AM #20
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as a music major ive found theory to a...difficult but necessary adjustment to my musicianship. i could read music just fine but understanding intervals and how chords build off of one another helps my sightreading immensely.
This. I have two music degrees and theory does help a lot with sightreading. Worst part about it for me is now hearing everything as the same
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Old 01-29-2014, 07:10 PM #21
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if you want to actually make music and know what your making it is important
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