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View Full Version : An understanding of theory (which apparently i dont have any at all)



t0th1nk
06-08-2009, 09:05 PM
Okay, so i'm self-teaching uke player and i'm totally clueless about the theory. I kinda have problems making out the major chords and stuffs on my uke.

I'm going through the Uke Minutes videos right now and i'm doing well with learning the techniques of playing the uke but the theories are getting me stumped, can anyone help me with this? I'm theory-blinded and i learned that its not a good thing. :uhoh:

Thanks guys! :D

DaveVisi
06-08-2009, 09:28 PM
I wouldn't worry that much if you don't get it. Just learn the chord patterns you need for a song and enjoy yourself!

buddhuu
06-08-2009, 11:11 PM
It depends what you want out of it. If it's just to learn a few songs parrot-fashion then, yes, what Dave said would work. If you want to actually understand what you're doing and how the music works then an understanding of some theory is great. It certainly helps when you want to jam or improvise a bit.

There is a huge amount of stuff online. Just Google "beginner music theory", "musical scales beginner" or "chord theory beginner" and try with other words such as "basic", "primer", "easy", "lessons" etc, and browse until you find what works for you. The downside of much web stuff is that it's mostly written with piano or guitar in mind.

I think I might put together some basic theory tutorials for ukulele. I think people have done that before on UU, but a bit more info can't hurt, right? If I can get around to it I'll try to do some in the next couple of days. If I do, then I'll try to post a heads-up in this thread too.

Here is a from-scratch list of the things I think are amongst the best stuff to learn when you begin theory.


Rhythm. Time signatures. The characteristics of different time signatures.

The Major scale. How it's built and how it works. What the notes and intervals are.

How intervals work. What their names are and how they are relevant to chords and melodies.

Basic chord theory. How chords are built and how they are used.

Structures and patterns commonly used in music. Common chord progressions. Blues progressions, turnarounds etc (this stuff is good for jamming with other people)


If you have any ambition to be a musician who is comfortable playing with other people, then I personally think that working to understand some theory is a great investment in enjoying your music more and feeling less "left behind".

But don't get so caught up in theory that you forget how to just learn a song from one of Aldrine's vids, and simply bang out a few simple songs for the sheer fun of it. :rock:

Edit: @Dave: I just realised the first line in my post could sound condescending, and like I was dismissing what you said. It's not meant to imply that at all, my friend. For many people, just learning songs to play with their friends and family, or to play to entertain people occasionally is exactly what they want out of it, ad that's fine. I spent years doing that myself. It was only when I started getting out to jam with other people that I realised I was out of my depth without a bit more understanding.

As you so rightly say, enjoy yourself!

grappler
06-08-2009, 11:18 PM
that would be great if you can get a video up about some basics. I know i'd learn a thing or 2

eyeball
06-09-2009, 02:25 AM
Ditto here!! vids or post, as long as i can learn the stuff!

cpatch
06-09-2009, 04:41 AM
Check out NukeDoc's excellent introduction to theory thread here:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11264

The accompanying discussion thread is here:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11308

Choboy
06-09-2009, 06:20 AM
ive been playing guitar for six years. and uke for 2 months.
i have no clue about theory still.
i just play chords and look up soloing online.

but i do want to learn how to improv.... but it's tooo confusing to learn!
one day i will tackle down the basics of music theory!

Ukulele JJ
06-09-2009, 06:36 AM
Here is a from-scratch list of the things I think are amongst the best stuff to learn when you begin theory.

Rhythm. Time signatures. The characteristics of different time signatures.

The Major scale. How it's built and how it works. What the notes and intervals are.

How intervals work. What their names are and how they are relevant to chords and melodies.

Basic chord theory. How chords are built and how they are used.

Structures and patterns commonly used in music. Common chord progressions. Blues progressions, turnarounds etc (this stuff is good for jamming with other people)


That is a fine list, buddhu. I agree 100%.

And you're right about the role of music theory too. I liken it to the difference between being someone who enjoys cooking out of a cookbook, vs. someone who has studied some culinary arts and understands how cooking works.

Nothing wrong with either approach. Both enjoy being in the kitchen and making a good meal. Friends and family around the table, having a good time... that's what it's about.

But the cookbook person will always be held back a little. The "understander" is more likely to go on to become a famous chef, can more easily modify recipes and create new ones, can substitute ingredients, and can even teach cooking class and/or write their own cookbook one day.

JJ

buddhuu
06-09-2009, 11:23 AM
Check out NukeDoc's excellent introduction to theory thread here:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11264

The accompanying discussion thread is here:

http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?t=11308

Ah, that's the stuff I remember seeing. Brilliant job by NukeDoc. There's a lot of work done there.

I may still pop up a few modest notes. Covering similar ground in a different way might widen the options for newbies.

JJ, good analogy with the cooking. I'm hungry now... :D

Ukuleleblues
06-09-2009, 01:52 PM
What I have found to be real useful is understanding the keys I regularly play in

C Major C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C
G Major G-A-B-C-D-E-F#-G
D Major D-E-F#-G-A-B-C#-D
A Major A-B-C#-D-E-F#-G#-A
E Major E-F#-G#-A-B-C#-D#-E
F Major F-G-A-Bb-C-D-E-F

and then understand that many of the songs use a 1 4 5 chord relationship and that many of the deviations from that are just accent chords. I also learned that when a 4th chord is thrown it it's usually a 2. That has been worth it's weight in gold for me when I play with different tuned ukes and guitars. I sure makes it easier to find a good key to sing in.

TokyoUketarist
06-10-2009, 03:48 AM
I did two vids for applying theory to the uke. Not just learning scales but how to apply them to the chords to make music. Hope they can help. If you have any questions let me know.

Parts 1 and 2:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6A-bWXjtTgI&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6A-bWXjtTgI&feature=channel_page (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6A-bWXjtTgI&feature=channel_page)

buddhuu
06-10-2009, 09:46 AM
OK, a total beginner lesson at: http://www.ukuleleunderground.com/forum/showthread.php?p=150996#post150996

Hope it helps.

PS: Don't forget to check out NukeDoc's more comprehensive sticky thread.

t0th1nk
06-10-2009, 04:50 PM
Alright! Thanks guys! Frankly whoever is thinking of putting up a video or anything related to theory go ahead with it and please please please make it simple because my thick skull can't process music theory that well. :biglaugh:

BarbaryBill
06-17-2009, 09:26 AM
Bhudduis words make me want to learn a little theory and I read some of his posts with anticipation.

One question I have is how do I transpose chords from one ( I presume) key to another. I need to confess here that the appeal is two fold 1. Obviously sometimes chord lists are in a key my voice can't handle (with my voice may be a blessing) and also I'd like to see if I can avoid the E-chord (except when practicing) B/Bb ( I got a tendon curling cramp in my index finger last night.

So if i have chords for exampble- A, Bb, D, E, Bm how do I get them down the scale or up for that matter?

cpatch
06-17-2009, 09:44 AM
So if i have chords for exampble- A, Bb, D, E, Bm how do I get them down the scale or up for that matter?
All you have to do is know that there is a half step between B and C and between E and F and a whole step between everything else, and that A comes after G (and G comes before A). Applying that to your example, if you want to raise the key by a whole step you would get:

A -> B
Bb -> C (Bb to B is a half step, then B to C)
D -> E
E -> F# (E to F is a half step, then F to F#)
Bm -> C#m (Bm to Cm is a half step, then Cm to C#m)

If you want to lower it by a half step:

A -> G#
Bb -> A
D -> C#
E -> D#
Bm -> A#m

Note that the type of chord doesn't change...a minor is still a minor, a 7th is still a 7th, etc. Also, you apply the same rules to the key: If the original is in the key of C and you raise it a whole step it's now in the key of D. Lower it a half step and it's in the key of B (because C to B is a half step).

BarbaryBill
06-17-2009, 10:25 AM
Thanks for that Cpatch - Like a lot of lifes' mysteries it's not that difficult when someone bothers to give you a simple explanation - Thanks!

You are now on my christmas card list.

Bill