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norvegicusbass

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How many of you create a bassline by just noodling away to find something that works rather than using musical theory? I must confess that music theory is beyond me ( which as someone well versed and in love with mathematics surprises me somewhat ). I find that I can make up quite a decent bassline when I just mess around on my bass but as soon as I try to justify the line with musical theory I just cant see how the notes relate. So my question in a nutshell is when faced with the task of coming up with a bass line that fits a piece of music how many of you get out your music theory books and how many just noodle around?

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If you know what a root note is and you know what a chord is then it's not merely noodling - but there probably won't be any need for a theory book.

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Ive created many lines, and gigged them, with limited theory, but boy do I wish I had had the chance to learn music properly when I was younger.

Yes it can be done, with limited theory, pop music history proves that, but the more you know, the more tools you have to choose from I guess.

Im sure there is a link to your lines within music theory if they sound good, but you just don't see it.

Also I think you cant noodle and not refer to theory that you know, as you cant switch your knowledge and mind off?

Edited by lojo

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I had the chance to learn it all as a kid and had no interest whatsoever. Now I've made a Conscious decision to make up for lost time and become as good as I can.

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[i]Oh go on then I will be controversial....I learnt from a technically brilliant bass player when I first started playing and then subsequently worked with another technically brilliant guitarist (he could play Sultans of Swing note for note) both had one thing in common they were both totally un-creative....they could not come up with a single riff without turning it into something already written...to me both were totally constrained by musical theory......other than root note knowledge I know no musical theory everything I write comes purely from feel.

I played some of the stuff I am involved with writing to said bass player last week and he just said "that's what makes you a better bass player than me, you can create stuff" A fine compliment from someone I greatly respect but still sad in a way[/i]

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I can hear the tune in my head. I then work out how to play it on whatever instrument I'm currently using.

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Very few people do use theory to compose. I don't use it when writing orchestral music. I could tell you why something works, or why something shouldn't work even though it does, but the only time I use theory is if I want a chord played across several instruments (Cello's play the root, violas take the 5th, wind take 3rd, brass play root and 3rd etc...) Most of my composition is hearing it in my head and then writing it down.

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If you know any theory at all (root, major, minor, no matter how much or how little) you can't just wipe it from your mind as if it had never existed. Therefore, if I'm noodling whatever I do comes a bit from both camps, as I imagine it is for most of us.

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The whole noodle versus know thing is interesting. If you had supreme amounts of knowledge you might not need to noodle, you might know that if you play primarily chord tones and add the 9th in every 2 bars it sounds great (or whatever as I dont have supreme knowledge).

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It's all 50-50, noddling from a point you know and understand is one thing same as knowing and planning each note, which I'm sure none of us do.

I play around with things, sometimes moving away from the chord so it's in a minor key or using the sus chords can help create a different feel to a song. I never plan it though, I just do it then remember what I did and look at the theory later when I come to write it out properly.

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I have an idea for a riff or a progression, I record it so I don't forget it, send it to the band as an mp3, one or more band members will record their responses, everyone gets sent a copy, we try it out at rehearsal, the singer comes up with his thing and some lyrics, things get tweaked and fettled, we usually have an argument at some point and if we're lucky we get a decent number out of it. Music theory doesn't come into it.

The idea that you can only write decent music if you're an advanced music theorist is rubbish. [size=4]If you have something in your mind that you can put across effectively, any method of doing so is valid. [/size][size=4]In my humble opinion. :)[/size]

Edited by discreet

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[quote name='BigRedX' timestamp='1382280799' post='2250011']
I can hear the tune in my head. I then work out how to play it on whatever instrument I'm currently using.
[/quote]

Pow! Yeah, I'm of this mould - I'll normally hum it; and hit the bass to actually work it all out.

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I'm a school teacher: I was recently teaching some year 10s who have a mixed knowledge of theory but all of whom were singers. They were getting a bit bogged down in the theory side of their composition work and I said to them something along the lines of 'The theory is a list of options, things that might work. You are all able to listen to music and decide what you like the sound of.'

I'd say the main struggle I and others have as teachers is trying to help our students connect the theory with what they are hearing.

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[quote name='mtroun' timestamp='1382285549' post='2250087']
I'd say the main struggle I and others have as teachers is trying to help our students connect the theory with what they are hearing.
[/quote]

I have a similar problem with maths. Connecting the theory with what's in my bank account.

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I dont think theory helps much with actual creative process more than being able to say to yourself something like. [i]'Well thats a Major pentatonic in G, that I have been noodling around.Maybe ill end by going up an octave'[/i]. or [i]'were basicly using the notes to F minor here, so an E wont really work to end on, why dont i try an Eb'[/i]. But often as not i still just [i]'try them all and see which sounds the best' :) [/i]

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[quote name='discreet' timestamp='1382284559' post='2250073']
The idea that you can only write decent music if you're an advanced music theorist is rubbish. [size=4]If you have something in your mind that you can put across effectively, any method of doing so is valid. [/size][size=4]In my humble opinion. :)[/size]
[/quote]

100% agree. There are however things that you'd have no hope in hell of making good without theory though.

Understanding the language of music can be done in many ways. Note names, shapes on the fret board, messing about and discarding the notes that don't sound right etc.

When I first started playing on an electric guitar I noticed that if I played a note then moved my fingers up 2 frets and played the next 2 strings down on the fret board it sounded cool. I 'wrote' loads of songs that just did that. Never knew the names of any of the notes and it didn't matter at all I was playing root, 5th and octave.

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I tend to start with what the drums are doing. Then I try to get an overall feel for the track. Thirdly (in this current band anyway) I listen to the two guitars.

Only after all that (and if I'm still struggling to come up with something suitable) do I start thinking about the theoretical implications. My theory is limited, and I might not call things by the correct names, but I am fairly conversant with things like roots, thirds, fifths etc, and harmony and melody...

Noodling has its part too though!

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you use both ways, but i don't think tunes like this would be able to be written without theory knowledge....it's sublime and beautiful!

http://youtu.be/h1DDndY0FLI

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You use the theory knowledge without thinking about it.

If someone says play over Em7/A7/D/D I don't start thinking, [i]now what can I play over that ?[/i]

I automatically think, that's a II/V/I/I in D and play something appropriate without thinking and without going through a load of nonsense before finally coming up with something that works.

All this, theory is bad and takes away your creativity is a load of utter b****cks put about by people who can't be bothered to learn the language.

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This always comes down to the people who think they don't theory not realising they are using it imo. Almost as if those who don't know it have some extra notes the theory guys can't play because its wrong in ome way or another, they don't.

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[quote name='ambient' timestamp='1382288697' post='2250144']
I automatically think, that's a II/V/I/I in D and play something appropriate without thinking and without going through a load of nonsense before finally coming up with something that works.
[/quote]

Just because you don't use music theory it doesn't mean you have to play a load of nonsense before coming up with something that works. I quite often come up with something that works straight off. But then I [i]am [/i]a naturally-gifted genius, of course.

Edited by discreet

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[quote name='stingrayPete1977' timestamp='1382288956' post='2250150']
This always comes down to the people who think they don't theory not realising they are using it imo. Almost as if those who don't know it have some extra notes the theory guys can't play because its wrong in ome way or another, they don't.
[/quote]

Could you translate that into English, please? [size=4] :P[/size]

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