jancivil wrote:honestly this is a matter of choices to be decided relying on some knowledge and experience. The answers you'll get typed at you online are probably going to provide you with a surfeit of information that is mainly going to confuse. there may be a jazzer's theory that applies not at all to someone that doesn't use that kind of harmonic concept, there may be a cut-and-dried approach abstracted from baroque part-writing that you'd need to have the particular experience to apprehend, etc.
there is no cut-and-dried theory for all music, you aren't going to proceed directly to knowledge out of reading some information. it will take some time to 'know' what to do and your opinions on what is right or wrong are going to evolve as you gain experience. theory is applied knowledge, not a book of laws or recipes.
How would you suggest he acquire this knowledge, if not from studying theory? Bashing about on the keyboard in hopes of an epiphany is surely not the most direct route.
Neither is reading. Seems like an unnecessary dichotomy.
There is a premise here, first of all that information amounts to knowledge. Why didn't Paul McCartney study theory? Do you think the things Miles Davis knew all came from Julliard? You have a cart you're asking to pull a horse. Theory is observations of what has worked, one seeks to find the consistency of practice. One can do that directly!
My own experience was, as I suggested in my second post, learning songs. Often by ear. There was no book to tell me what was happening in most of the music I liked. I was picking up knowledge for four years before I 'studied theory'. But, when I sussed most of the parts on side one of Abbey Road, I knew how those things worked. Later when I saw 'theory', 'I-vi-ii-V-I' (actually I noticed those, formulaic things in a little chord progression handbook before I ever heard of roman numbers analysis) it was a double-sided epiphany. I could see the use of it and I could see why so much music sounded dull to me, cookie cutter. Vs certain Beatles songs. "Because"; how did McCartney come up with such sophisticated part writing with no theory study?
Or, someone showed me the Foxy Lady chord and I noticed both qualities of third in it! EUREKA.
And, when I saw concepts abstracted from music, there were epiphanies coming I don't think happen otherwise.
A lot of people today expect to read up on it via the internet and they're good to go. That is kind of a vacuum.
I don't think trial and error should be reduced to 'bashing about'. I'm not sure what is that bad about bashing about in the beginning anyway. I don't think that having never bashed about and having no experience directly with songs and pieces of music is remedied by reading, even if all of the information ever compiled is available with one mouse click.
The OP asks a world in a nutshell. It will take years to know how to use notes that aren't prescribed in a list of scale tones or triads made from that to good effect. I lack the inclination or the time to try and remedy that missing experience typing at someone. There are enough people that will try. I can pass along this knowledge, you'll gain more by getting your hands dirty first. When you do, the information will have context that isn't self-evident necessarily.