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greghagger

What do you struggle with in regards to music theory?

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4 minutes ago, greghagger said:

The Circle of Fifths does need to be explained careful, not least because in the Jazz world it is called the Circle of Fourths!

But it is very helpful when learning about keys and chord progressions.

But I get your point, that is not an area that sone people are particularly interested in learning about. 

Yeah, I was told it was the key that would unlock the door to everything. I actually started a thread a while ago asking what the point of it was, and as I recall I didn't get a solid answer 😄

Appreciate it's only one aspect, though.

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Posted (edited)

I run through it in my head using the construction formula - then i remember major scales. Also better for sleep induction than counting sheep 

for me it did unlock some stuff 

Edited by Geek99
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35 minutes ago, greghagger said:

The Circle of Fifths does need to be explained careful, not least because in the Jazz world it is called the Circle of Fourths!

But it is very helpful when learning about keys and chord progressions.

But I get your point, that is not an area that sone people are particularly interested in learning about. 

I use the cycle of 4ths all the time for practicing as it means going round all 12 keys, but it's not just moving up or down a fret so I find it forces my brain to "reset" so I am actually thinking about where I am going and where the notes are rather than just a mechanical pattern movement.

iReal has a fantastic training mode where it will repeat a song, but transpose by an adjustable number of semitones on each repeat. This means that you could e.g. create a 4 bars of Cmaj7 "song" set to repeat 12 times then set it to transpose 5 semitones up on each repeat. You end up with 4 bars of Cmaj7 then Fmaj7 then Bbmaj7 then Ebmaj7 etc. all the way round the cycle of 4ths to Gmaj7.

I use this to practice scales and arpeggios in all keys as you are continually hearing the chord that you are playing against so it reinforces the context rather than just being abstract.

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5 minutes ago, nilebodgers said:

I use the cycle of 4ths all the time for practicing as it means going round all 12 keys, but it's not just moving up or down a fret so I find it forces my brain to "reset" so I am actually thinking about where I am going and where the notes are rather than just a mechanical pattern movement.

iReal has a fantastic training mode where it will repeat a song, but transpose by an adjustable number of semitones on each repeat. This means that you could e.g. create a 4 bars of Cmaj7 "song" set to repeat 12 times then set it to transpose 5 semitones up on each repeat. You end up with 4 bars of Cmaj7 then Fmaj7 then Bbmaj7 then Ebmaj7 etc. all the way round the cycle of 4ths to Gmaj7.

I use this to practice scales and arpeggios in all keys as you are continually hearing the chord that you are playing against so it reinforces the context rather than just being abstract.

Nice one!  Yeah I do a similar thing with arpeggios and chords.  You can also think about it as continuous 2-5-1’s.  I often play a major 2-5-1 then change the ‘1’ to a minor chord and carry on with that being the ‘2’ of the next 2-5-1. 

The i-real app is so great isn’t it.  I highly recommend it to anyone who hasn’t got it. 

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^^^

I've just bought iReal due to these recommendations and it it looks really good.

I downloaded the playlists of 400 pop songs and 54 Blues straight away so that's more than enough to get on with for a long time, and it looks like the forum has loads more to download. It seems a step up from Songster in that it encourages a more chord reading and thinking rather than following tabs note for note. I like the mixer options, and the transposing looks a good feature too.  Slight downside is that it only has guitar/piano/uke fretboard diagrams...but I guess guitar fretboard diagrams can be applied to Bass easy enough and it's probably better practice to only use the chord names rather than fretboard diagrams anyway.  

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13 minutes ago, SumOne said:

^^^

I've just bought iReal due to these recommendations and it it looks really good.

I downloaded the playlists of 400 pop songs and 54 Blues straight away so that's more than enough to get on with for a long time, and it looks like the forum has loads more to download. It seems a step up from Songster in that it encourages a more chord reading and thinking rather than following tabs note for note. I like the mixer options, and the transposing looks a good feature too.  Slight downside is that it only has guitar/piano/uke fretboard diagrams...but I guess guitar fretboard diagrams can be applied to Bass easy enough and it's probably better practice to only use the chord names rather than fretboard diagrams anyway.  

Great, it is so useful and has pretty much every jazz standard you would ever need! 
 

Yes, you will do yourself a massive favour in the long run if you start working with chord names rather than fret diagrams. 

You can also make up setlists and write your own chord sequences too.  Enjoy it! 

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14 hours ago, Geek99 said:

 Learning boxes isn’t the answer in my very humble opinion 

I'm tempted to start buying up youtube ads so this statement gets displayed before every bass video.

Fine, we play a symmetrically-tuned instrument, so we have an certain visual advantage over other instruments when it comes to learning a pattern and then transposing it to other keys, but the majority of players never spend the time working out what the shapes actually represent and why they work. There's also the tendency to think (and play) as if the scale/mode/arpeggio starts and ends where the box does.

Modes are, in my humble opinion, one of the most frequent causes of confusion because they're often badly taught and introduced to students at the wrong point in their development. If someone hasn't done their homework on intervals and basic triads before moving on to 7th chord harmony then odds are they won't have a clue about #11s and natural 13s.

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39 minutes ago, TKenrick said:

I'm tempted to start buying up youtube ads so this statement gets displayed before every bass video.

Fine, we play a symmetrically-tuned instrument, so we have an certain visual advantage over other instruments when it comes to learning a pattern and then transposing it to other keys, but the majority of players never spend the time working out what the shapes actually represent and why they work. There's also the tendency to think (and play) as if the scale/mode/arpeggio starts and ends where the box does.

Modes are, in my humble opinion, one of the most frequent causes of confusion because they're often badly taught and introduced to students at the wrong point in their development. If someone hasn't done their homework on intervals and basic triads before moving on to 7th chord harmony then odds are they won't have a clue about #11s and natural 13s.

Ohh I’m flattered :) that never happens ...

it was actually something that @Stuart Clayton said in his fine, fine bass tuition book**, albeit about two octave scales, that turned my head. He made me realise that knowing a box is okay as a crutch but you need to know the fingerboard well enough to see the notes from those boxes all over, even as fragments, rather than shift up to 11 frets just to get to your safe start point for (say) G mixolydian 

I think subconsciously this is the problem I was seeing with my teachers insistance that I learn boxes for pentatonic scales.  It seemed a bit limiting although I’m certain I could not have expressed it in an intelligible way at the time. 

** the one with pale blue writing on the cover

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I struggle with the fact that (as with almost everything in life) the theory is considerably less interesting than the practice. 

My fear is that it will erode my enjoyment of playing, and that's been in enough jeopardy before without theory pushing it over the cliff.

I read about stuff and just think; "Er... what?"

I think I'd probably get it if it wasn't so one- directional. Bouncing a few questions off of someone knowledgeable would probably resolve it.

I guess I'm a prime candidate for lessons,  but I struggle dramatically with tuition. Teachers only ever want to teach you what they want or think is best rather than what you actually want to investigate; "...We'll cover that in lesson #438"

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How much theory do you actually NEED for what you do ?... In my case over the years very little, life's too short to waste chunks of it on stuff that's not going to help you...

Steel helmet now secured, incoming flak barrage awaited....!

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5 hours ago, Lfalex v1.1 said:

I guess I'm a prime candidate for lessons,  but I struggle dramatically with tuition. Teachers only ever want to teach you what they want or think is best rather than what you actually want to investigate; "...We'll cover that in lesson #438"

The thing with this, in my experience, is that you get people wanting lessons who overestimate their ability and want to learn XYZ, but they don't understand ABC, so you need to take them down that path first to be able to make sense of what they initially asked. Generally, students who are open to this idea learn far more than those who get arsey that the teacher went in a different direction after one lesson.

4 hours ago, Waddo Soqable said:

How much theory do you actually NEED for what you do ?... In my case over the years very little, life's too short to waste chunks of it on stuff that's not going to help you...

Steel helmet now secured, incoming flak barrage awaited....!

Not giving any flak but I don't think it's a waste of time because it does help. It never hurts to know more about what you are doing, and it can open up opportunities that you might not get otherwise.

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As a musician playing a stringed instrument, being able to relate the shape of what you’re playing to the sound it makes is an essential skill. Sure, knowing what the intervals mean, how chords are built and the theory behind it helps, but shapes matter on a bass and a guitar - particularly given the amount of places a given line or snippet can be played. A good ear for music, and the ability to relate it to what’s happening on the fretboard is what opens doors. Very very few musical situations nowadays require sight reading or a conservatoire-level of musical theory knowledge.

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the very basic part of identifying intervals or notes

I know, why I am even attempting to play Music w/o that very basic skill?

 

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10 hours ago, FDC484950 said:

Very very few musical situations nowadays require sight reading 

I don't know about that. There are still loads of reading gigs around. At least half the gigs I do involve reading charts.

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3 minutes ago, Doddy said:

I don't know about that. There are still loads of reading gigs around. At least half the gigs I do involve reading charts.

Definitely agree with this.  60-70% of my work involves reading.  

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10 hours ago, Killed_by_Death said:

 

the very basic part of identifying intervals or notes

I know, why I am even attempting to play Music w/o that very basic skill?

 

Everyone has to start somewhere.  Even with knowing one note first of all! 

just go for it and you will very quickly learn more.  

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10 hours ago, FDC484950 said:

As a musician playing a stringed instrument, being able to relate the shape of what you’re playing to the sound it makes is an essential skill. Sure, knowing what the intervals mean, how chords are built and the theory behind it helps, but shapes matter on a bass and a guitar - particularly given the amount of places a given line or snippet can be played. A good ear for music, and the ability to relate it to what’s happening on the fretboard is what opens doors. Very very few musical situations nowadays require sight reading or a conservatoire-level of musical theory knowledge.

Definitely agree that identifying shapes on the fretboard and developing your ear are vital skills.  But to really open doors you need the whole package - great ear, good reading skills, a good understanding of how music works.  
 

I’m not sure how you feel about this but each important element of being a musician work together and enhance the other parts.  Just because you use patterns on the fretboard, this doesn’t mean you can’t understand why these patterns work and how to apply them. 

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24 minutes ago, greghagger said:

Everyone has to start somewhere. 

I just whack the fretboard randomly & see what happens! :)

25 minutes ago, greghagger said:

Even with knowing one note first of all!

There are notes on a bass!?!?!?!?!? O.o

Who knew! :o

:D 

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3 hours ago, Doddy said:

I don't know about that. There are still loads of reading gigs around. At least half the gigs I do involve reading charts.

Define “loads”? And what are they paying? And is that sight reading a complete written part of comping on chord/melody charts? I’ve been out of the game a while and just curious.

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2 hours ago, greghagger said:

Definitely agree that identifying shapes on the fretboard and developing your ear are vital skills.  But to really open doors you need the whole package - great ear, good reading skills, a good understanding of how music works.  
 

I’m not sure how you feel about this but each important element of being a musician work together and enhance the other parts.  Just because you use patterns on the fretboard, this doesn’t mean you can’t understand why these patterns work and how to apply them. 

It’s an interesting point. I’ve done the whole 9 yards - music college, theory, sight reading gigs, turning up at a big band gig doing a dep to be presented with a 400-page book, turn to page 220, it’s 5 flats and the tempo is fast. 1..2..1.2.3 :)

TBH I never really enjoyed that sort of gig. Fact is you can’t really enjoy the music because you’re reading it. If it’s a regular thing then after the second or third run through you’re probably not reading anymore anyway. But setting aside me playing the music, would I actually want to sit and watch the gig. I know we’re all different, but for me, no.

I’ve come to realise that there is a place for such music, but the vast majority of music I like is made in bands rather than with hired musicians. There’s just something about it that elevates it above a lot of session musician music. That’s not to say there’s not great music in that sphere - the funk brothers, wrecking crew, muscle shoals etc - but these were units that behaved as a band, and their success was more on the quality of feel and interpretation/improvisational skill as a unit rather than individual theory knowledge. Sure, some reading ability meant they may have got those opportunities in the first place, but this was a long time ago, when nearly all recorded music involved instruments. Even when I was an active pro 25 years ago such opportunities had almost entirely vanished (at least the ones that paid well). I know it’s all about personal choices, but I’d much rather listen to Mark Knoplfer than Pat Metheny or John Scofield. Someone like Steve Cropper is an interesting one - fabulous player with some of the most delicious guitar parts ever played. Was it theory or just ears and intuition? Hard to say.

Anyway, back to the point. Each instrument has its unique challenges, and for stringed instruments it’s the variety of places a given line can be played. It’s entirely logical to relate what you hear to what you see as a result, and it is how thousands of musicians across hundreds of years of stringed instruments and many styles of music have communicated. It doesn’t require written knowledge as in reality these are just terms or hooks to hang on a given sound - and many instruments don’t have written music, or easily understandable written music, particularly outside of western classical. What did Jeff Berlin say - if you want to learn to rock, go and rock, don’t bother with music college? Not sure I agree 100% but I kind of understand where he’s coming from.

So, having done it, rather than speaking from a perspective of ignorance, my view is that by all means investigate theory if it interests you. But For me it is in no way indicative of a great all round musician.

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50 minutes ago, FDC484950 said:

Define “loads”? And what are they paying? And is that sight reading a complete written part of comping on chord/melody charts? I’ve been out of the game a while and just curious.

By 'loads', I'm talking about function/corporate gigs, clubs,  jazz gigs, tribute bands, theatre tours, big band.  Sometimes you'll get lead sheets but most of the time it's fully notated charts. When I was doing more musicals and cruises, then I was literally reading every night. Now, I'd say that more than half of my work involves reading.

I'm not going to say how much they're paying, but I'm making a living.

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I came to bass from classical guitar, so I used to know my theory, but knowing the difference between an appoggiatura and an acciaccatura never helped my bass playing.

I can read, and have done gigs where it was required, but my sight reading now is not what it used to be. Nor is my sight.

But it is useful to be able to notate things.

 

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