What's one theory tip/trick you wish you knew when you started out?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by AlexBohlin, May 23, 2021.

  1. AlexBohlin

    AlexBohlin New Member

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    Hey guys, I'm feeling active and curious today, so I'll get straight to it:

    What's the single (or more, please!) most important/useful piece of theory-related information you've ever been given that you wish you had known sooner?!

    I'm trying to get into more theory, like identifying scales, what scales to solo with over a certain progression, learning a song by ear, etc. Basically becoming more independent as a guitarist, and I would love to hear any advice you got to help me with theory!
     
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  2. RickP

    RickP Established 1960, Still Not Dead

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    It’s not necessarily theory, per se, but I remember someone saying “you’re never farther than one fret from being in the key” way back when and it really freed me up from being so scale-reliant. I could take a chance on how a note might sound against a chord, and slide or bend as needed if I didn’t like it. I’ve learned ways to add a little tension by doing that resolving, but more often found tones I wouldn’t have tried based on “what I know.” Give it a try!
     
  3. AlexBohlin

    AlexBohlin New Member

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    That's a great tip, man! When I play in my bedroom, exploring is fun, but as soon as it's band time with my friends, it's not as easy to risk the wrong notes, but I've never really tried it the way you explained it. I'll sure give it a try and practice it!

    Thank you, Rick!
     
  4. aphantomvaper

    aphantomvaper New Member

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    If you make a mistake repeat it two or three times and it will seem like it's on purpose. Sometimes people will think you're brilliant
    - Merle Saunders
     
  5. jak3af3r

    jak3af3r Jake

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  6. AP515

    AP515 Mostly Normal

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    RickP said my suggestion very well. I'll have to move to another one.

    "That which we persist in doing becomes easier. Not that the nature of the thing changes, but that our ability to do it increases."

    Also known as Practice
     
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  7. WEDGE

    WEDGE Zombie five, DFZ

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    I never took lessons so I played for two years or so and couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t sound like the records. Then someone showed me fifths and power chords. Off to the races after that.
     
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  8. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Energized

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    That "enjoying every sandwich" didn't need be a Wallflowers album, but was.
     
  9. Axis39

    Axis39 New Member

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    </THREAD>


    (okay, maybe I'm being overly dramatic...)


    But, I do agree whole heartedly. If you want to sound like someone, something, some genre, whatever, listen to it until it's in solidly your being. Then, listen to your playing... See if you can pick out what's different.


    I got a gig a few years ago with a semi-famous musician. She wanted me to just 'play the fills, leads, you know, those things you do'. She didn't want me to play much rhythm work... She was covering that, and doing a lot of finger picking and stuff along with it. There wasn't a lot of room for more rhythm stuff in her songs. As we worked through stuff, the biggest thing she wanted from me was to start with the melody. Always, start with the melody.

    You'll find that most melodies are based on chord tones.

    So, don't worry so much about what scales to play, worry about chord tones. But, also recognize that chord tones aren't necessarily just the 1,3 and 5, they also include all the extensions and alterations (7ths, 9ths, 11ths, b3's, b5's, etc.).

    A few years ago, at a gig, I was asked how I knew what notes to play. My answer was, 'I just don't play the ones I don't like'. They thought I was being glib. But, I swear that is how I see it these days. I've put in a lot of hours of practice, a lot of hours with a guitar just hanging around my neck. I've played a LOT of bad notes. A LOT!!! I am painfully familiar with playing bad notes! LOL. These days, i really just try to avoid them.

    I spent years playing along to TV and of course recorded music. TV's fun, especially ads. You have 30 seconds... gotta figure out what key it is, then try to cop the melody. GO! Seriously, it's a great ear training game, and it really helps you to hear what you're playing as well. So much better for your ears than TAB or learning from a YT video where the guy tells you exactly where to put your fingers. BUT, any playing is worth doing!


    So, my two pieces of advice? Work on melodies and play a lot!
     
  10. jak3af3r

    jak3af3r Jake

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    I have a music degree and would happily delve into the depths of theory for anyone. However, this is probably the most practical approach.
     
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  11. Moondog Wily

    Moondog Wily Howlin' At The Moon!

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    I am first going to rely on some Miles Davis quotes:

    “Sometimes you have to play a long time to be able to play like yourself.” - Miles Davis
    “Anybody can play. The note is only 20%. The attitude of the mother****er who plays it is 80 percent.” - Miles Davis
    “It's not the note you play that's the wrong note – it's the note you play afterwards that makes it right or wrong.” - Miles Davis
    “Don't worry about playing a lot of notes. Just find one pretty one.” - Miles Davis

    All that said, by the legend, there is a lot of advice here from other forum members that is better than anything I can give you. If you are interested though, I do have a spreadsheet that I created in 2002 I believe, that is a breakdown of many different patterns, progressions, reasons for them, moods associated with them, etc. I never really flushed it out to what I would deem as perfection, but whenever I want something new to try/play, I open it up and find hours of interesting stuff to work with/on. PM me of you want a link to that spreadsheet!

    Happy pickin'!
    MW
     
  12. CandidPicker

    CandidPicker Energized

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    Will add: Read, Meditate, Apply.

    Any part of music study (practical or performance) includes being able to hear directional changes, & the 3 P's: pitch, pace and power. Read charts accurately, review and ponder over about the when, where, who (why & how comes with deeper study), and apply what you've previously practiced/learned.
     
  13. DreamTheaterRules

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    I think the biggest game changing theory thing I learned was this. If you only play the black keys, it sounds like oriental music. My problem is that when I switched from piano to guitar, I’m not sure where the black keys are on guitar. :(
     
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  14. Axis39

    Axis39 New Member

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    I have no music degree. But, I did study a bit of theory. So, I understand the basics, let's say (I probably know a little more than that, but ain't committing to nuthin'!). I guess my thoughts were that knowing the notes that make up chords... well, that's a nice basic theory goal, thought, thing, whatever.

    I will never talk anyone OUT of learning theory! Knowledge is power!
     
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  15. Black Plaid

    Black Plaid Other Alan!

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    I'm pretty sure the black keys are like E flat Minor Pentatonic.
     
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  16. DreamTheaterRules

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    So what frets is that?
     
  17. Black Plaid

    Black Plaid Other Alan!

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    Every fret, if you try hard enough!
     
  18. jak3af3r

    jak3af3r Jake

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    Also G-flat major pentatonic.
     
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  19. aphantomvaper

    aphantomvaper New Member

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    Depending on the orientation you could play a D# minor pentatonic and it would be same.
     
  20. tiboy

    tiboy New Member

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    I wish my first guitar instructor was honest and advised me to stick with football and give up the guitar. Because he didn’t, I’ve spent thousands of dollars and endured thousands of hours of frustration over 50 years to learn what he surely knew and should have told me. I have no aptitude for the instrument.
     
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