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In depth theory without sight reading


Guest NZT

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Is it possible to get deep into music theory without learning how to sight read? If so, can you recommend any good books/resources?

 

The level I'm at... I know major and minor scales, and I know basic chords. I know when playing a melody over a chord progression you usually try to play the 1st, 3rd or 5th of a chord when it's introduced. That's about it really.

 

If I have to learn to sight read I will, but I'd rather not.

 

Cheers

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Guest Wall Bird

First off; the term sight reading typically means performing a piece of written music that you have never seen before. I assume, though, that you're talking about learning to read musical notation in general, so I'll address the question in that manner.

 

No; you don't need to learn to read music in order to learn theory. It can be communicated orally or through demonstration on an instrument. If you plan to learn from books then you may have a very hard time since a lot of examples tend to be written in musical notation

 

Keep in mind that notation is used to simplify the communication of musical ideas and that learning to read and write notation will ultimately make it easier for you to comprehend and communicate musically. It will do a lot to increase your understanding and make you a richer musician in the long run. For that reason, I think you should consider putting in the initial time investment and learn to read music.

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Thanks guys. Yeah I really mean notation. Just wondered if it could be avoided.

 

I'm determined to get good at theory so I'm willing to put in the effort.

 

Phew there sure arent many shortcuts in this game! A good thing though I guess.

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Here's a [quite overwhelmingly] comprehensive website that I think someone here linked a while back. It really covers a hell of a lot of music theory right from the very basics - http://www.dolmetsch.com/theoryintro.htm

 

I meant to start my way working though it many years ago but as with 5,439 other projects I've intended to do, I've done nothing....

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Do you play an instrument? I don’t think sequencer counts. I learned what I know about theory by learning about guitar improvisation. Jazz, bluegrass, that shit. As long as you’re fluent in _something_, be it notation or fuckin’ banjo, I think that’s good enough. I think about “theory” all the time, but almost never about notation.

 

If you’re not fluent in a way of musical expression at all, I think the concepts of theory will always be abstract to you, because you will have no way to express them in a fluid way. I guess if you are really devoted, you could learn theory stuff by programming out examples in a sequencer, but at that point you might as well just learn how to plunk them out on piano since that’s going to be the only decent way to get them in there. And then _sneakily_, voilà, you play piano.

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Thanks for the link, will check it out later.

 

I used to play guitar, got ok at it but just seemed to lose interest. Maybe I'll get another one. I play the keyboard now but mostly just program melodies in the piano roll. My thinking gets in the way of my listening when improvising melodies. I have a decent size (61 key) keyboard so yeah, good shout, will practice it more.

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It takes half a day to learn to read notation, and it takes months or years to learn in depth theory. A lot of the examples you'll need to study along the way will be notated, you're not doing yourself a favour by skipping the easy bits.

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do you need to know in depth theory to write good melodies? Ive been learning melodies by aphex, robert smith and other groups on guitar and piano and the tunes are sooper simple. its made me think these guys are just very musically inclined in the brain naturally. 4 notes but chosen wisely and inventively is often what it comes down to it seems. So simple but so catchy! Theory would be great for sitting in with a jazz band that changes key and stuff, but is it useful for writing tunes that stick in your head?

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well melodies no, but that is like 1/1000 of ideas that are accessible to you through music theory. No one studies theory to write better melodies. They study it to understand the function of counter point, inversion, scales, keys, and other devices which contribute to interesting music. And that's just formal stuff. There is so much more if you read things by Eno or Reich, or any of the other contemporary musical thinkers. That stuff is more philosophical than music theory though.

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Guest mollekula

Even though Im classically trained on piano, which Im not going to lie has been extremely helpful for me (not that i recall most things i learned then), i dont really think somebody needs to know in depth music theory in order to make electronic music. Now if somebody wants to write jazz thats another story.

 

I think whats most important is to understand what is major and minor, how they work and how they sound. When you decide in which key you want the track, whether minor or major, play an octave for practice for a while in chosen scale and you will know which keys to press and which not to so that you have your minor or major. When you remember the right keys, start improvising on these notes, playing melodies or taking accords. thats something i always do when improvising or writing something.

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It's super wordy, but I've been reading Arnold Schoenberg's Theory of Harmony, and it's an awesome read that really hits home with how I think about music and how our perception of it has evolved in relation to the actual physics behind it.

 

Understand the harmonic series and how it influences tonality and chord structure, figure out how to use all twelve western tones (on your own or through study, preferably both), and get a good grasp on drum pedagogy to expand your rhythmic palette and I think you'll be just fine.

 

Though if you plan on reading anything really academic on the subject, it'll be pretty rough without a solid ability to read notation.

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It'd be like wanting to become a race car driver but not learning how to use a stick shift and only driving automatics. It'll only hinder you in the long run.

 

i think it's be more like driving a race car and not knowing mechanics. one can drive a stick perfectly fine without knowing how it actually works.

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Guest Social Spastic

theory can be helpful but in a way to bend the rules not abide by them.

 

the main point is sound orginated first. somewhere down the line theory/ mathmatics of sound is applied. learning notation is handy but not the be all and end all.

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theory can be helpful but in a way to bend the rules not abide by them.

 

don't know why this hasn't been said already but this is the point. Jazz guys learn theory so they know what rules to break. It's good having a traditional perspective on music so you can get weird with it.

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the main point is sound orginated first. somewhere down the line theory/ mathmatics of sound is applied. learning notation is handy but not the be all and end all.

 

how many black jazz artists know theory? Was Miles Davis a theory guy? Or Dizzy, or Coltrane. Is this a white man's construct?

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the main point is sound orginated first. somewhere down the line theory/ mathmatics of sound is applied. learning notation is handy but not the be all and end all.

 

how many black jazz artists know theory? Was Miles Davis a theory guy? Or Dizzy, or Coltrane. Is this a white man's construct?

 

Davis dropped out of Juilliard, after asking permission from his father. In his autobiography, Davis criticized the Juilliard classes for centering too much on the classical European and "white" repertoire. However, he also acknowledged that, while greatly improving his trumpet playing technique, Juilliard helped give him a grounding in music theory that would prove valuable in later years.

 

He(Dizzy) received a music scholarship to the Laurinburg Institute in Laurinburg, North Carolina, which he attended for two years before accompanying his family when they moved to Philadelphia.[8]

 

Coltrane returned to civilian life in 1946 and began jazz theory studies with Philadelphia guitarist and composer Dennis Sandole. Coltrane continued under Sandole's tutelage until the early 1950s
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I think one could get by swimingly without a lick of theory.

 

 

I mean the more mainstream diatonic theory one is exposed to, the less likely they are to make awesome atonal/microtonal freakouts. Theory, I think, has a tendency to impart our ears with prejudice (at least that is my observation). Theory often mediates between the musician and the sound.

 

I think ideally the musician has a direct relationship with the sound.

 

And theory tends to restrict rather than inform. Theory begets cliches (death to "ii-V-I"). Theory does your thinking for you, and tells you what the right notes are.

 

Well, maybe that's a bit hyperbolic/pessimistic, but it tends to be true. Of course theory can be consumed with massive amounts of salt and kept in proper perspective, but (in my experience) that rarely happens.

 

:sad:

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