Did music theory help you much with chords etc?

Chords, scales, harmony, melody, etc.
191 posts since 11 Dec, 2006

Post Mon Dec 05, 2022 3:02 am

jeromejenkins wrote: Sun Oct 30, 2022 8:22 pm I have heard many successful and even platinum selling Hip Hop producers say they just learnt how to play one Major scale (C Major typically as its all the white keys) and one Minor scale (C Minor is good aswell or A Minor as it is also all the white keys) on the keys and then whenever they wanted to play in a different key they just just used a pitch/transposition plugin in there DAW to shift the scale up or down as many semitones as needed.

Not just hip hop. Irving Berlin used a transposing piano eighty years ago.


7049 posts since 28 Apr, 2013

Post Mon Dec 05, 2022 10:32 am

Learning theory is more akin to maintaining your car than it is driving it. Although when driving, you will know what those gauges and idiot lights are trying to tell you because you took the time to learn before instead of jumping in with your new tools and using them just to use them.

A lack of theory can only lead to your eventual stagnation.

User avatar
8894 posts since 7 Sep, 2006 from Roseville, CA

Post Mon Dec 05, 2022 10:47 am

Good analogy, BBFG#. I generally tend to think of it as the rough equivalent of learning grammar. Sure, you can write a book by stringing random words together or repeating things you've heard before, but having a good grasp on grammar will get the results you desire quicker and more effectively.
Logic Pro | Prophet 6 | PolyBrute | Rev2 | Polar TI2 | Pro 3 | Sub37 | SE1X | Peak | Blofeld | Slim Phatty | Minitaur | A4mk2 | RYTMmk2 | Alpha Base | Digitakt | Digitone

Artie Fichelle
107 posts since 28 Nov, 2004

Post Mon Dec 05, 2022 10:51 am

first comes practise, then follows theory.
artie fichelle sounds natural

7049 posts since 28 Apr, 2013

Post Mon Dec 05, 2022 10:57 am

Artie Fichelle wrote: Mon Dec 05, 2022 10:51 am first comes practise, then follows theory.
They actually go hand in hand. Even if you're just beating your guitar with drum sticks.

addled muppet weed
98569 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Post Mon Dec 05, 2022 11:41 am

didnt help me. well it did, i just found it very difficult to concentrate.
on account of one of my music teachers being (im pretty sure) a member of black lace :shrug:

you try taking in information with agadoo going round in your head.

(this is true as well)
if you don't want me to destroy you
take a leaf out of my book, turn it round and have a look...

24102 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from gonesville

Post Mon Dec 05, 2022 1:55 pm

tehlord wrote: Mon Dec 05, 2022 2:03 am Music theory is the 'blah blah' side to actually learning to play.
Who knows what this is supposed to convey.
tehlord wrote: Mon Dec 05, 2022 2:03 am If you learn to play (a slow process), it will be multiple times more useful than learning theory.

Learning theory is like reading how to drive a car. It has some usefulness in terms of knowing what the controls do, but you'll still stall first time you try a hill start as you don't have the muscle memory.

It's very hard to explain until you know how to play an instrument, but once you do, it becomes extraordinarily easy to write music.
All merely statements of a personal disposition. Someone asks a question they’re looking for advice. If this were a question regarding say using a compressor or an EQ, do we respond, there is some usefulness to understanding how things work, but it’s the blah blah side of use? I would imagine if one pulls that in the Effects subforum it would see some ridicule. But the Music Theory board and a question to techniqe presents the opportunity to opine, meh, forget theory, practice is everything {an unnecessary or useless dichotomy anyway}.

While playing an instrument is indispensable to musicianship, the assertion that once “learned” the capacity for writing music is automatically to follow is laughable. If this were true, every player is automatically a composer (and, to what degree of proficiency? Where is our goalpost? Are the persons who have learned how to play, or sing better than… automatically acquiring equivalent better aptness for the task of *composing music*, having done? NB: rhetorical questions.). Noop… have a quick look around.

If one writes music, one may well aspire to having an apt vocabulary. While some have a fantastic ear from birth or acquire one via osmosis {nature/nurture question}, available information on structures (or physical realities, harmonic series, instrument particularities) is an advantage, ie., useful. This is just not reducible to nor is it particularly analogous to the controls in an automobile.

Techniques such as part-writing are extremely conducive to the matter of composition, and to arranging.
Knowing harmonic structure might mean easier avoidance of pitfalls, such as a muddy effect, lack of clarity, overemphasis on some area of the frequency spectrum…

So, the question/topic is essentially does knowing about, and experience and practice in the handling of chords help one with use of chords. Dismissing technique very glibly is IME not much of a response.
Last edited by jancivil on Mon Dec 05, 2022 2:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

24102 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from gonesville

Post Mon Dec 05, 2022 2:02 pm

the other negation, with music theory you don’t get the muscle memory, is just false. Practice = Praxis.
Knowing might mean you can eventually get to imagine (then create, in the case of a piano roll execute) music entirely beyond your playing ability, and/or able to create a virtuous part for an instrument you’ll never touch.

Those with “enough” ear or enough ability to play becoming great at composing purely through that will be the exception proves the rule methinks. If your nature plus your nurture amounts to the level of a Paul McCartney, go for it. If you are actually McCartney, you find that edumacated George Martin guy of definite use.

But context, what are one’s goals? How far do you go?

User avatar
8132 posts since 22 Sep, 2008 from Windsor. UK

Post Tue Dec 06, 2022 2:30 am

jancivil wrote: Mon Dec 05, 2022 2:02 pm snip - blah blah blah
Look at the title of the OP.

Did it help YOU much. So I answered based on my experience.

But thanks for the detailed rundown of how MY experience is wrong :hihi:

User avatar
8156 posts since 31 Aug, 2013 from Not far from Mordor

Post Wed Dec 07, 2022 4:09 pm

“We do not have to visit a madhouse to find disordered minds; our planet is the mental institution of the universe.”
― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

User avatar
69 posts since 4 May, 2022 from drippy, rainy wet western Oregon, USA.

Post Thu Dec 08, 2022 5:15 pm

It depends.
Are you trying to create music "in the style of"? Then yes.
If we're talking aesthetics alone then we enter a grey area.
I happen to LIKE parallel 4ths and 5ths. But if I had a gig writing music in the style of Mendelsohn then they would not be appropriate.
This even applies to more general things like density. (somebody mentions muddiness up above) What kind of effect are you trying to create?
Having a system is certainly good for productivity. There are times when you want to be creative but aren't sure what you want to do. Then it can be like a cookbook when you're hungry.

17 posts since 22 Nov, 2022

Post Thu Dec 08, 2022 10:52 pm

nix808 wrote: Thu Oct 27, 2022 11:06 am I suggest u learn D minor key and play it's scale so it becomes muscle memory to play the correct keys.
From D Minor, in MIDI, we can transpose to damn near every other key by adding or subtracting semitones
This is a fantastic tip. With D minor and C major, you can transpose to any standard key easily. If you're like me and play piano with somewhat clumsy hands, these scales are a godsend. :clap:

User avatar
4843 posts since 22 Jul, 2006 from Tasmania, Australia

Post Fri Dec 09, 2022 2:07 am

very nice to be of help
I am self-taught, my theory is scarce
-but this way I can jam to jam tracks
enjoy the harmonies!

24102 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from gonesville

Post Fri Dec 09, 2022 4:26 pm

Transposition is not ”adding or subtracting semitones”, it’s the selfsame intervallic structure moved up or down.

7049 posts since 28 Apr, 2013

Post Sat Dec 10, 2022 10:15 am

There is a theory that we don't actually play anything that we haven't played before. Which is why everything starts out feeling foreign until we practice it to feel natural with it. Different theories can be a new perception on what is basically the same thing and will give us new approaches and ideas to explore. Develop and practice the nuero-pathways at least as much as you do the hands in their bidding.

Without that, everything will just become inbred and stagnant.

(And yes, I know there's a big market for inbred gonad ticklers.)

Return to “Music Theory”