Sorting out Music Theory Guides

Sorting out Music Theory Guides

Postby toastandjam » Tue Jun 26, 2007 5:12 pm

Hey all...long time listener, first time caller...

I'm in a bit of a rut and am daunted by where to go next, and how. I've been playing for about 8 years, learning songs here and there, ripping stuff off, creating my own melodies and generally hodgepodging it together. I like to think I'm a decent player with great potential that's seriously underutilizing my talent.

I'm no shredder, don't wanna be, but fingering chords and running up and down scales is a breeze-- I just don't know why, other than to attempt to produce a specific sound. This is a barrier.

I've been trying to use online lessons and guides to figure things out but I have a hard time understanding how the concepts intermingle or apply to what I'm already doing. Each guide approaches things very differently and it leads to confusion.

Sooooo....what guides could you folks recommend? What has, in your experience, been a useful, comprehensive, coherent\cohesive learning site or book to teach oneself a practical, introductory amount of theory to prep oneself for (cue disney music) a whole new world?

I get the idea of building chords. I understand they come from the scales, but not why they match, or how scales are altered with modes or how they relate to the various chords that may (or not, but why??) be appropriate for in specific situations. Untangling the mess and finding a practical, linear approach is most important. Something I can work through and see development so I don't :? and give up. Again.
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Postby Billbbill » Wed Jun 27, 2007 3:36 am

Here's a link to the posts of the once resident theory guru for the site. Hope I'm not overstepping my bounds here MutantDan.

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/Ke ... ssages?o=1

Some good stuff here.
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Postby CaptainTrips » Wed Jun 27, 2007 8:16 am

www.richardlloyd.com

great site, kind of esoteric but good if you can follow.
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Postby toastandjam » Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:00 am

CaptainTrips wrote:www.richardlloyd.com

great site, kind of esoteric but good if you can follow.


I hadn't seen this site before (not shocking) and I like his approach thus far. The conversational nature of the instruction is helpful too. We'll see where it goes, thanks! Hopefully I'll be able to take what I pick up here and apply it to the numerous threads in the YahooMusic group link also provided.


Example:
"Deal: A Mixolydian with a flat 3rd and a natural 7th added for the chromatic high string descending line. The solo starts in pattern 1 and then moves up one octave to the same pattern."


I have no idea what this means. I know where A major and minor are all around the board and I could look up a chart for A mixolydian and play that, but why and how? Dunno. I'd consider it like driving in china or something-- I can work the car, I can keep it on the road, but I can't read the signs to get me to specific towns or roads. Not that there's anything wrong with just motoring about to whereever sometimes... :P

Thanks guys!
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Postby bodiddley » Wed Jun 27, 2007 9:29 am

Well, I know very little and I can kinda figure that out...playing it is another story entirely. I'm assuming that as with most scales there are five basic patterns that link together. Like mentioned above you would start with pattern one and work your way up the neck 'till you get back to pattern one again, thus being an octave higher. Is that right? I'm not not sure what you are not understanding about that? Or is it more of a "why does that work the way it does" kinda question? Because it does!
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Postby toastandjam » Wed Jun 27, 2007 11:07 am

bodiddley wrote:I'm not not sure what you are not understanding about that? Or is it more of a "why does that work the way it does" kinda question? Because it does!


The second one :lol:

Maybe I've just been around too many music majors charting out stuff and things and some of them not even really playing instruments. A lot of this seems obvious to me on a level and I assume I must be missing something. Perhaps not! Continued thanks =)
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Postby toastandjam » Wed Jun 27, 2007 4:16 pm

bodiddley wrote:Well, I know very little and I can kinda figure that out...playing it is another story entirely. I'm assuming that as with most scales there are five basic patterns that link together. Like mentioned above you would start with pattern one and work your way up the neck 'till you get back to pattern one again, thus being an octave higher. Is that right? I'm not not sure what you are not understanding about that? Or is it more of a "why does that work the way it does" kinda question? Because it does!


Sorry to be :deadhorse :deadhorse :deadhorse if I am, but I had some time to think about this today and what I mean by it is this-- I can play Deal...y'know A > C#7 > F#m > A > D > Adim and all that. I would like to understand why the #7 is different than C, why Adim is different than A. Also, an A mixolydian working over that progression is well and good when I'm told, but what if I want to play, uh, E > B > G something-something? What works over that? Without being told, how can I know? That's the knowledge I seek =) And eventually after using some of these references hopefully I'll know. Just thought I'd clarify.
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Postby CaptainTrips » Thu Jun 28, 2007 7:48 am

Never think you are beating a dead horse when it comes to learning. Not music theory not anything. Im sure you will always find more than enough people who would be happy to help you out. Ill do what I can.

First off to your question about chord construction. All chords are constructed and based off the major scale. In C that would be (C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C) ending on a C note that is an octave (or eight steps) higher. The octave C is technically the same note as the root C just eight steps higher.
A major chord is constructed of the (1, 3, and 5) of the major scale. For a C chord, the notes will be C, E and G.
A minor chord is constructed of the scale degrees (1, b3 [flat third] and 5) So for a Cm chord the notes are going to be C, Eb, and G.
A diminished chord (like the Adim in Deal) is constructed of a (1, b3, and b5) So for a Cdim chord the notes would be C, Eb, and Gb.

When you are dealing with additions to the chord such as C7 and C#7 and Cmaj7, instead of changing the intervals of the regular C chord what you would do is add on to the regular C chord.
For a C7 chord what you would do is take the regular C chord formula and add a b7th to it. It is important to remember that a regular seventh chord adds a flat seventh. So the formula would be (1, 3, 5, b7) and the notes would be C, E, G, Bb. Now to achieve a C#7 all you would do is take the C7 chord and move it up one fret and the notes all up a half a step so that the new notes would be C#, F, G# and B.

A Cmaj7 chord contains the natural C chord and an added seventh degree. So that the chord construction would be (1, 3, 5, 7) and the notes would be C, E, G, and B.

Now when it comes to soloing, knowing all these chord constructions and notes is a very valuable skill, and to answer another question, a very good way to determine what to play over any given progression is to be familiar with the notes and the chords that you are playing over. Many times the first thing you would do is to determine the key of the progression and then work from there. (If you dont know about determining keys, and harmonized scales, just ask, Ill be more than happy to elaborate.)
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Postby toastandjam » Thu Jun 28, 2007 11:40 am

CaptainTrips wrote:Never think you are beating a dead horse when it comes to learning. Not music theory not anything. Im sure you will always find more than enough people who would be happy to help you out. Ill do what I can.

Many times the first thing you would do is to determine the key of the progression and then work from there. (If you dont know about determining keys, and harmonized scales, just ask, Ill be more than happy to elaborate.)


That was remarkably concise and thank you for the encouragement! I like the scalar approach, starting with all the notes that are to be "in play" and working off those. I think I'll sit down tonight and write out all the major scales from scratch (like you did with C all the way around) and then construct some basic chord forms from those (maj, min, +7, dim). Seems like a good exercise. Any improvements?

Do you have any exercises for application you could recommend? An example of what I have in mind is simply picking a note at random and finding all the instances of that note as quickly as possible. I've been doing that a lot. Taking that to another level with multiple notes would be good, especially if the exercise relates to how those notes would be applied with reference to each other (as I'm sure is important with things such as transitions, walking from one scalar set to another).

As far as soloing goes, my usual approach is to find the key by ear (or look it up) and since I know maj\min all over the board as patterns, I just stick to the patterns and phrase by ear (which I believe when combined with some deliberate knowledge will make me an exceptional player). I can sometimes get a sense of where a 'chromatic' approach will work and walk up to notes in the scale through notes that are not for variety (but never emphasizing those off notes). Lately I've been trying to mix it up by playing over several keys-- what I think it referred to as 'playing the changes', but often there are notes in one scale that sound wrong so I know there's more to it than just playing the scales that correspond to the chords in the song. Clarity on that subject would be great, though I'm sure I'll have a better grasp after charting out the scales\chords and seeing that some things overlap while others do not.

Long posts! :oops: Thanks a whole lot. The time and effort is much appreciated :smile:
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Postby CaptainTrips » Thu Jun 28, 2007 12:27 pm

Hm, as for exercises the best thing I can advise is to learn as many voicings and inversions of the all the chords you can and commit them to memory. They will always help you in between scalar approaches.

Another invaluable skill is to learn all of the arpeggio patterns up and down the neck, if you are familiar with CAGED, the system for naming chords up and down the neck, this will be somewhat familiar, if not it shouldnt be too hard to get. Although I learned it best in the form of EDCAG which is just starting off the E shape chord.

The abbreviations stand for chord shapes, as they appear in open position. The E shape, the D shape and so on and so forth. This is a E shaped arpeggio pattern. Starting in the Key of F, this would be played like this
Code: Select all
e-----------1-5-------------|
b---------1-----1-----------|
g-------2---------2---------|
d-----3-------------3-------|
a---3-----------------3-----|
E-1---------------------1---|

Next, still in the key of F, moved up a little further is the next form, a D form.
Code: Select all
e---------------5----------------|
b-------------6---6--------------|
g---------2-5-------5-2----------|
d-------3---------------3--------|
a-----3-------------------3------|
E-1-5-----------------------1-5--|

Next pattern to hit would be the C form, moving further up the fretboard.
Code: Select all
e----------5-8-5-----------|
b--------6-------6---------|
g------5-----------5-------|
d----7---------------7-----|
a--8-------------------8---|
E--------------------------|

Then you will have the A form pattern
Code: Select all
e----------------8-13-8--------------|
b-------------10--------10-----------|
g----------10--------------10--------|
d-------10-------------------10------|
a--8-12-------------------------8-12-|
E------------------------------------|

and last is the G form pattern, completing the sequence
Code: Select all
e--------------------13------------------|
b--------------10-13----13-10------------|
g-----------10----------------10---------|
d--------10----------------------10------|
a-----12---------------------------12----|
E--13--------------------------------13--|

Now what you can do is run these everyday, connecting them all together, starting off as they are in first position in the key of F and then move it all up one fret at a time to keep going up chromatically. Knowing these arpeggio patterns inside and out will be a huge tool for you.

Also, if you want you can break these exercises down into a smaller arpeggio pattern using just the three main notes for a major chord, 1, 3 and 5.
Code: Select all
e-----------------------8-----------8----------------------|
b--------------------6-----10---10-----6-------------------|
g--------------5-----------------------------5-------------|
d-----------3-----7-----------------------7-----3----------|
a-----3----------------------------------------------3-----|
E--1-----5-----------------------------------------5----1--|

Now its also a good idea to practice other chord forms, such as Fm arpeggio
Code: Select all
e-----------------------8----------8-----------------------|
b--------------------6-----9----9-----6--------------------|
g--------------5-----------------------------5-------------|
d-----------3-----6-----------------------6-----3----------|
a-----3----------------------------------------------3-----|
E--1-----4-----------------------------------------4----1--|
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