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How do players who know "nothing" about theory get it so musically correct?

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"I'll play it first and tell you what it is later." -Miles Davis

 

[thumbup]

 

Did Miles & Zawinul ever discuss music theory? I doubt it.

 

I doubt that Zawinul, Shorter and Jaco theorized about any of "Heavy Weather." They simply recorded masterpieces that Theoriticians could analyze later.

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[thumbup]

 

Did Miles & Zawinul ever discuss music theory? I doubt it.

 

I doubt that Zawinul, Shorter and Jaco theorized about any of "Heavy Weather." They simply recorded masterpieces that Theoriticians could analyze later.

 

Not so. If you'll read Miles' autobiography, you'll see he discussed theory frequently. All of those cats did, esp. during the Bebop years with he, Dizzy, and Bird. In fact, Miles couldn't tolerate a musician that didn't know his stuff (e.g. Steve Miller). Kind of Blue was a milestone in jazz. It was considered Miles' first "modal" album, a concept that he and Bill Evans had been experimenting with. (Also, it is worth noting that Zawinul went to the Berklee School of Music, and Miles got to NY through Juilliard, even though he dropped out).

 

"As was Miles Davis's penchant, he called for almost no rehearsal and the musicians had little idea what they were to record. As described in the original liner notes by pianist Bill Evans, Davis had only given the band sketches of scales and melody lines on which to improvise." -Wikipedia

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I agree with just about all the comments made here. I'll just chime in to say that some people just "have it". That does not mean you can't be a great player with a lot of practice but that raw talent is a gift.

 

I have had friends that don't play and they pick up my guitar and nothing comes out. They have a hard time fretting a note. One other friend friend picked up my ax and right away he was picking out a melody. Nothing great but still he was making music right off the bat. He never pursued it despite my offers to teach him what I knew. He was just not that interested.

 

Everything I know is 2% inspiration and 98% perspiration.

 

This is a good start, natural ability goes a long way. Some other's have a gift of understanding the way things work by doing it over and over until they have it down. I fall in the category of natural gift for rhythm & verse but I some times have to approach thing's in a repetitive learning way. Just depends on what it is I'm trying to do, playing drum's came to me right away, but the mechanics of guitar took a few years for me to have quick response to the flow of music. I see myself as more of a chord and rif guitar player and I have been known to be a monster on drums but I feel the rhythm & verse thing is my strongest point. I have no real formal training, I did go to recording school when I was in my mid 30's but I'd already had music in my head for decade's so I don't know.

 

I do remember reading some thing about Alex Lifeson taking Spanish guitar lesson's after Neil Pert joined the band, so I would bet that he has some clue as to the ways of proper music just not a life-time of it.

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I think this addresses a major point I try to make about "Self Taught" vs "Schooled" musicians. They play the same scales, and build the same chords out those scales. It's just that the "Schooled" musician knows what to call everything and the "Self Taught" musician doesn't.

 

Sound Waves produced form a properly tuned instrument (or group of instruments) can only work together in so many ways. Those ways have been labeled an cataloged for centuries (ala scales and chords), the way you go about figuring that out doesn't change the outcome.

 

Like I always say, music is a discovery, not an invention. Anyone who sets out to reinvent music by avoiding classroom situations or book learning is going to be sorely disappointed when they "Invent" the same scales every other musician "Discovered" through learning.

 

Taking all this into consideration, it's only "Natural" that even the most stubborn "Non-Learner" will be playing the same scales and chords as the schooled musician.

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Like I always say, music is a discovery, not an invention. Anyone who sets out to reinvent music by avoiding classroom situations or book learning is going to be sorely disappointed when they "Invent" the same scales every other musician "Discovered" through learning.

 

 

 

You just shattered my dream.... [crying] .......20 years down the toilet!!!..oh well, Imma go discover some more. [thumbup]

 

seriously tho, I am 95% self taught and I am lacking in the scales department, I am no shred master that's for sure...that's were I struggle the most is good fills and lead work.......to the point that I am thinking of looking into some lessons to get me over the learning " hump " I need to get past.

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The only lessons I had was clarinet when I was 8. I would go home and open the book playing mary had a little lamb or some simple tune and got so bored with it that I would make up my own stuff . When I got my first guitar I took a few lessons yet when it came time for the next lesson I would play along with the instructor and toss in little parts he never showed me and he asked where I got that from , well I was listening to the radio or record and it just came out.

 

I always found for me that if I don't think about it and just play things just come out and I remember them. I did learn chords first from those books that had chord charts . These were written for piano and I used to think well the chords and the rhythm , the bass line was the bass and the melody was the guitar lead lines when in fact they were three note chords. I find for me playing blues I do best when I play lines with the chords as a focal point or call and response. I had some battery powered thing that used to record just a few seconds so I would turn that thing on and play a lick listen to it play back then add more. A chord offers the ground. Also there as many hear well know ,different places on the neck where you can play the same thing so I work with that too. I use the entire fingerboard. I hear a lot of it in my head yet I just don't think about it , I think you have to tap into the un-conscience mind.

 

There is no way around playing as much as you can and no way should one be to hard on oneself and there are days when nothing will work so on those days I don't force it.

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Methinks U doth protest too much and U R loaded with conceit but very little humility. Methinks U R also Full of It!

 

But hey that's just my "theory."

 

[thumbdn]

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You can only ever be a semi tone away from the right note. So, if you listen to jazz players they play with such flow, you accept the bad notes as correct ones. Just think of the wrong note as a passing note.

A "wrong note"?

Do you think Charlie Parker played a lot of "wrong notes"? Coltrane, Montgomery, Monk, Miles, and a whole lot more.

Their harmonic concept was very complex with not only chord extensions but substitutions as well. What some may view as a wrong note is not wrong at all. It may be dissonant to some but that is because the listener is not used to hearing it.

 

They are not "wrong notes".

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A "wrong note"?

Do you think Charlie Parker played a lot of "wrong notes"? Coltrane, Montgomery, Monk, Miles, and a whole lot more.

Their harmonic concept was very complex with not only chord extensions but substitutions as well. What some may view as a wrong note is not wrong at all. It may be dissonant to some but that is because the listener is not used to hearing it.

 

They are not "wrong notes".

 

One man's wrong note is another man's nirvana.

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Methinks U doth protest too much and U R loaded with conceit but very little humility. Methinks U R also Full of It!

 

I'm hurt... (not really)

 

Edit: I feel humility when Hendrix plays better with his teeth than I do with my fingers, when Lifeson instinctively plays Spanish Phrygian when I can barely conceive what that is (and much less how to apply it), when SRV plays jazz chords effortlessly when I have spent the last 8 years of my life trying to grasp chord extensions, alterations, inversions, and substitutions.

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I know we are on a "rock" site and all, but I think the greatest players in the world - past, present, and future - are classical guitar players. Where is Matt Sears when we need his input? [biggrin] All the greats - Segovia, Bream, Williams - knew theory as well as their native tongue. I will never be in the same league as the greats in part because I don't know much theory, though my current teacher is trying to change that! [scared]

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They just do what feels right.

I agree but they have a strong foundation upon which they build on. Parker and Diz came up with the bebop thing as a way of weeding out lesser musicians at the late night jams. They were bored with the limitations of the swing band stuff they had to play to make a living. A strong logical theory was not just a feel thing. It wss an intellectual exercise as well.

 

Someone mentioned Weather Report saying that it was all feel and no theory. I do not agree with that. Jaco covering Donna Lee (a Bird tune) is not accomplished by just a note for note rehash of what Parker wrote. He understood the theory behind it and thereby was able to give it the feeling he did.

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Synister Gates said in an interview:

 

"In every band you need at least one person who understands music theory. Unfortunately, in this band it's me."

 

 

So there ya go.

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I know we are on a "rock" site and all, but I think the greatest players in the world - past, present, and future - are classical guitar players. Where is Matt Sears when we need his input? [biggrin] All the greats - Segovia, Bream, Williams - knew theory as well as their native tongue. I will never be in the same league as the greats in part because I don't know much theory, though my current teacher is trying to change that! [scared]

 

Much prefer Greenwood, Rhodes, Van Halen, Hendrix, Page, Clapton, Allman, Betts, Lee, Carlton, Atkins, Paul, Vai, Richards, Bloomfield, Stills, Walsh, Winter, Simon etc.

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I don't think I buy into the whole, "I don't know nothin about theory" theory.

I must have known, have been friends with, crossed paths with or jammed with literally dozens if not hundreds of musicians over the years, from beginners to really really great players. And even the really good ones who all say they are "self taught" still had to learn chords and scales no matter how informal that training was. Or how indirect it was.

As some have already said. Nobody is out there reinventing anything. Just because you don't train in classical music and delve into theory,, doesn't mean you don't know any.

You don't have to play like Segovia to qualify as knowing theory.

If you know the basic 1 4 5 chord progression guess what, you know theory. You are using theory.

I believe all music has some element of theory, intentional or not.

 

What separates the wheat from the chaff is having the ability to forget everything you have learned and truly just play on feel.

I have on rare occasion been able to do that. I'm not saying I'm great or even good. But I have been able to just zone out and play. Have you ever heard it said that, once you realize you are in the zone, you are out of it??

Well, I think that's true. That elusive zone.

For the greats, it's not so elusive.

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I plussed Larry and Axe for applauding Larry. I don't know much about theory, I just play what sounds good. [thumbup]

There's a theory for why what you play sounds good.

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Much prefer Greenwood, Rhodes, Van Halen, Hendrix, Page, Clapton, Allman, Betts, Lee, Carlton, Atkins, Paul, Vai, Richards, Bloomfield, Stills, Walsh, Winter, Simon etc.

 

You can prefer whomever you want, but my point goes to his original post, which is that he is frustrated by knowing a lot of theory when others don't seem to know any of it and still play exceptionally well. Some of the greatest players in the world know a helluva lot about theory.

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You can buy cd's or download backing tracks for practice. I've never used one but recently bought a blues one. It's surprising how you can practice and find new ways with a backing track. When I grew up there were no such thing. Records were all we had. The players today have it so good and easy. But all the theory in the world won't give you style. That can only come from playing for years.

Onto classical/taught playing. I personally find that players that have had millions of lessons and have been taught, lack something. They seem to be competent but sterile. Players that have been through the clubs and played with others grow into a style.

So, the bottom line must be. Have some lessons. Play to backing tracks to learn to play live, then get into a band and gig to find your style. But don't copy others!!

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You can prefer whomever you want, but my point goes to his original post, which is that he is frustrated by knowing a lot of theory when others don't seem to know any of it and still play exceptionally well. Some of the greatest players in the world know a helluva lot about theory.

 

If you knew anything about the history of those players that I posted (Greenwood, Rhodes, Van Halen...), you would know that we are saying the same thing: "Some of the greatest players in the world know a helluva lot about theory."

 

It is also true that some of the greatest players didn't have much formal education in music theory.

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...all the theory in the world won't give you style. That can only come from playing for years.

Onto classical/taught playing. I personally find that players that have had millions of lessons and have been taught, lack something. They seem to be competent but sterile. Players that have been through the clubs and played with others grow into a style.

So, the bottom line must be. Have some lessons. Play to backing tracks to learn to play live, then get into a band and gig to find your style. But don't copy others!!

 

I think you've hit on the crux of the whole issue. Learning theory to learn theory doesn't improve your ability to create music. You've just got to play. I can only speak for myself when I say that before I started taking lessons, I stagnated. Taking lessons forced me to play, and it taught me things I could not have learned otherwise. But on the flip side, there are many great players who learned from copying others and were still able to develop their own style. I also agree that playing with others, even playing to backing tracks, can be very beneficial. My point is, you've just gotta play and you gotta progress in any way you can if that is your priority.

 

OTOH, some of us play just for recreation and relaxation with no interest in improving. Some of us play strictly for ourselves with no intention of playing in public. Some of us old farts play to keep mentally active. To each his own.

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They keep trying new stuff and if it sounds good, they keep doing it. If it sounds bad they don't do it again.

 

The music is in their soul before ever pick up the guitar. And they have a good memory and have the ability to "play" music in their head.

 

In blues, there can be like 3 or 4 notes between one semitone. You can't even write those notes down. They learn that by humming it or singing it or playing it in their head. Then they play it on the guitar.

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If you knew anything about the history of those players that I posted (Greenwood, Rhodes, Van Halen...), you would know that we are saying the same thing: "Some of the greatest players in the world know a helluva lot about theory."

 

It is also true that some of the greatest players didn't have much formal education in music theory.

 

From a CNN interview:

 

CNN: Did you ever take formal guitar lessons?

 

Van Halen: No. That's why I do all this crazy stuff. It's not taught.

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