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ikarin
03-22-2010, 09:55 PM
Hello, UU lovers!

I have a question on music theory (basics of music, not too much details), especially to advanced/professional(?) uke players.

Yesterday at a ukulele circule, I got a new music score.
Me, as beginner uke player but as ex-piano player, I read it straight away and played it.
Whereas, some people, playing uke for over 3-5 years, can read a tab but not notation, so cannot play well until they listened to others to play the music.

I thought I'm happy to help them understood how to read notation, but some questions came up.

Is it really useful for them to understand music theory (really basics, like rhythms, melody, harmony, scales, etc) in the long run? For I have no idea on what's like to play without knowing them...

If so, how? In what occasion, like jam?
For I am still very beginner uker and don't know when it's necessary...

Thanks for your advices, as always

Naoko

casarole45
03-22-2010, 10:57 PM
I would say music theory is very important if you want to progress with any instrument. For example knowing blues scales whilst having a bluesy jam opens up a whole world. Also try saying to someone lets move this up to another key and it all goes to pot.

But it all depends on how far someone wants to go, I know plenty of great guitarists that aren't that great on theory, but they will always have limitations, your post shows some of these limitations.

Also my memory for is pretty aweful so when I used to play live I depended on doing a lot of the lead work as improv =D

Ukuleleblues
03-23-2010, 01:09 AM
I know a little of music theory like how the basic scales are constructed, circle of 5ths, etc. I understand the concept of "nashville numbers". All of that has made it much easier to swich keys, which as made it easier to play guitar, C tuned Ukes, D tuned ukes, slack key tuned ukes, open E tuned guitar, and harmonica during the same sitting. Also jamming in goups is easier. It was very useful and practical for me to take the time to learn it.

happyslappysoong
03-23-2010, 03:01 AM
Can you communicate without talking? Yes.

Does it help in trying to communicate, to be able to talk? Immensely.

so, to answer your question - YES. It is important. You'll be fine playing covers in your own bedroom by yourself, but as soon as you get into a jam with competent players, without theory, you're good as gone.
First learn theory behind scales and chords. Then intervals.


www.musictheory.net

Get studying.

Ukulele JJ
03-23-2010, 03:14 AM
I think an understanding of music (which generally involves knowing music theory, but doesn't always have to) makes you a better musician in the same way an understanding of food makes you a better cook.

There are some people who can't cook a thing without a recipe. They put the ingredients together, and they have a good time, but they're really just painting by numbers. They don't really understand why they're doing what they're doing, or what the functions of the eggs, baking powder, salt, etc., are in the dish. There's nothing inherently wrong with this approach.

But then there are the people who are "chefs". They can open a fridge and cupboard, grab some random ingredients, and make a great meal out of whatever. And that's because they understand food. They know how everything works together, and they can predict what the outcomes of various combinations will and won't be. They're guiding their decisions with a good amount of experience that hangs on a framework of deep knowledge (and probably a fairly refined and tuned palate).

Music is the same way. I'm happy that anyone plays their own music on an instrument, just as I'm happy that someone attempts to cook their own food. Both things are getting pretty rare these days! But in both cases, the more you know about what you're doing, and the more you use that knowledge to tune your sensory apparatus, the easier it is to be creative, branch out, go beyond the page, and explore.

I was flipping through "Music Theory for Dummies" the other day at the bookstore. The first chapter has one of the best explanations of the "why" of music theory that I've ever read. It's too long to quote here, but I recommend heading over to Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0764578383/) and clicking the image of the book to preview it.

JJ

cornfedgroove
03-23-2010, 04:08 AM
the deeper the well, the more you have to draw from...

mailman
03-23-2010, 05:08 AM
I think an understanding of music (which generally involves knowing music theory, but doesn't always have to) makes you a better musician in the same way an understanding of food makes you a better cook.

There are some people who can't cook a thing without a recipe. They put the ingredients together, and they have a good time, but they're really just painting by numbers. They don't really understand why they're doing what they're doing, or what the functions of the eggs, baking powder, salt, etc., are in the dish. There's nothing inherently wrong with this approach.

But then there are the people who are "chefs". They can open a fridge and cupboard, grab some random ingredients, and make a great meal out of whatever. And that's because they understand food. They know how everything works together, and they can predict what the outcomes of various combinations will and won't be. They're guiding their decisions with a good amount of experience that hangs on a framework of deep knowledge (and probably a fairly refined and tuned palate).

Music is the same way. I'm happy that anyone plays their own music on an instrument, just as I'm happy that someone attempts to cook their own food. Both things are getting pretty rare these days! But in both cases, the more you know about what you're doing, and the more you use that knowledge to tune your sensory apparatus, the easier it is to be creative, branch out, go beyond the page, and explore.

I was flipping through "Music Theory for Dummies" the other day at the bookstore. The first chapter has one of the best explanations of the "why" of music theory that I've ever read. It's too long to quote here, but I recommend heading over to Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/dp/0764578383/) and clicking the image of the book to preview it.

JJ

JJ....for once I have to disagree with you.

My wife bought me "Music Theory for Dummies" for Valentine's Day. I've read the first chapter. Your explanation of the "why" of music theory (cook vs chef, etc.) is by far the best I've read.

I do recommend the book....it's great! But you just have a way of explaining things that really resonates with me....

EDW
03-23-2010, 05:12 AM
I give my highest recommendation to everyone to get the book

http://www.edly.com/mtfpp.html

It is a great book, very informative, easy to read and (I know most cannot believe anyone would say this about a theory book) FUN!

The more you know, the better off you will be.

Tudorp
03-23-2010, 05:23 AM
Hmm... That's actually a very good question. Here is my take on that, even though it may not be very popular with hard core musicians that read, and study music.

1st, a little history about myself. I am 49 years old, and played a Bass since the mid 1970s. I played in the Jazz band in HS for one year until we got a new music teacher. Everyone loved me on Bass, and said I played with soul, and they can tell my music came from real deep inside me. I contribute that to a couple things. I love music #1, and #2, I have never been confined my the "laws" of music. I played the music that was in my heart, not in a song book. I think that came across by comments people made about my style of play. The Jazz band instructor loved my contribution to the band. We had another bass player that was very technical. He was an awesome bass player, but again, very technical, and black and white. Myself, not so technical, and in some cases, didn't play the same song the same each time. It all depended on my mood. You can't count on that in a "Technical" setting I know. But, when the Jazz instructor transferred schools, we got a new instructor, whom was VERY technical. He was a music major and I know that is why. Nothing really wrong with that IMHO, especially in a learning environment. You have to have standards, guidelines in order to teach from them I know. But, on his first day, he introduced himself and made this comment. "I understand that there are one or two of you in this band that may, or may not read, or understand the laws of music. That said, if you are willing to learn it, and abide by it, you may remain in my band. If you feel that is too much to ask, you may leave my room now...". Well, now that I am an adult, I do understand what he was driving at. He wanted discipline in his ranks. I can understand that now in that setting. But, as a soulful, hard headed teen that loved MY music, didn't take to that very well, and I stood right up and walked out. Hindsight, I kind of wished I had stayed and did it his way for the time being. If I had, and learned "music", it may have made it easier for me to do it my way, when I had that control. The band was in an uproar, and even the other bass player left even though that was right up his alley, just out of respect for my style of play. So did a couple others in the Jazz band. As much as I appreciated their support, and respect for my style of play, they really should have stayed with it with the new guy. I do think a couple of them went back. But the bass player, and another did not. That is unfortunate IMHO. Anyway, I went on to play in another smaller band that played Jazz, and did very well, because in that freelance environment, I had creative control to hone my , free, soulful style of play.

That said, I feel the "laws" of music tend to bind the creative side of music. I don't follow those laws today, because I do still play from the heart and soul, and not sheet music. I can barely read music, and definitely do not understand all the "laws". I do also think that if I did at least have an understanding of those laws, I wouldn't have had to stumble around as much learning a specific song. I think there really needs to be a very good, rounded balance of musical theory, laws, AND what comes from your soul. You should be disciplined enough to understand what you are doing, but open enough to bend the laws to make your own music and sound.

I can not lie and say that I did not get a sense of satisfaction hearing from others that the Jazz band in high school seemed to miss the heart and soul that my bass rhythm playing gave it when I was in it. But, they were very disciplined and technically correct. <grin>

Tudorp
03-23-2010, 05:29 AM
I have to add that the analogy with the cook, and food as pertained to music is a very good one. I am not against musical theory. I do think that with that background from the beginning, it would have made it much easier for me along the way. But, you also have to be willing to bend it. So, yes, it is important, and if I wasn't such a stubborn kid back then, I would have realized that and learned it then, and made it easier on myself as I matured...

pdxuke
03-23-2010, 05:47 AM
It depends on what you want to do.

Given that more knowledge is better than less knowledge, the more you know, the more versatile you will be. My degree in music is helpful (although my coursework is 35 years in the past and I've forgotten much of it because I don't use it!)

Let's put it this way: I've played guitar for 40 year. I started by learning scales and can play them on the guitar. I can pretty much fake my way through anything.

But I haven't done that with uke yet. I can play some basic chords (which I still think of in their old guitar names--for example, the C chord 0003 pops into my head as a simple G chord, cause that's how it is on guitar.) So basically, it's like being a level 1 English learner. I'm stumbling through. In order to really go farther, I'm going to have to learn the scales on the uke fretboard, the names of the notes, and start thinking in uke language. That takes knowledge of theory.

MTGuru
03-23-2010, 06:02 AM
I think sometimes the word "theory" in "music theory" scares people away unnecessarily. Makes it sound highfalooting and complicated and academic, when a lot of it really is not - or at least no more than basic arithmetic.

If you have a good ear, music theory just gives you a systematic way of talking about what you probably already know on some level - the sound of different scales and chords and keys, etc. If your ear is not as "natural", then theory can help you make sense of the details.

I also second EDW's suggestion above of "Edly's Music Theory for Practical People". I think it's far clearer, better organized, and more fun than either the "Dummies" or "Idiots" books.

csibona
03-23-2010, 06:13 AM
Part of the reason I wanted to play the ukulele was to learn and understand music. It isn't so easy to understand music theory on the single note instrument like the saxophone (which I played from grade school to high school). Keys make more sense to me know that I play a chordaphone because I can play four notes at a single time. I've been playing the ukulele since January 2010 (so not very long) but I've already asked for "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory."

Of course, I should temper these comments with the fact that I'm also a PhD student so I may have interests that are more theoretical than the general population...

SailingUke
03-23-2010, 06:20 AM
I agree with those who believe you learn theory to get you where you want to go with your music.
I believe every player benefits from knowing what chords go in what keys.
If you know chord progressions you can quickly learn new songs and be able to play along in a group.
Theory can be boring, I like to learn a song and then figure out the theory. I teach my beginners Five Foot Two.
After we are playing it I explain the circle of fifths. We then transpose the song to another key (some more theory) and play away.
I believe if you can apply whatever theory you know to your songs you can learn more.

uke5417
03-23-2010, 06:22 AM
Music theory is the codification of things a "soulful" musician innately understands. Most of us probably have a little bit of "soul" and can benefit from some formal study.

Link
03-23-2010, 06:23 AM
Lots of good opinions here. The only thing I'll say... Playing uke or any instrument would be about 1/100th as fun for me if I didn't have a basic/intermediate knowledge of theory. Scales, different chord shapes/progressions, keys, whatever... all add more blocks to the box that I build with!

ukecantdothat
03-23-2010, 07:39 AM
In the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. I can't sight read to save my life, and tabs do nothing for me, but knowing chord structure and common progressions makes writing or figuring out songs much easier. Knowledge is power.

GrumpyCoyote
03-23-2010, 08:05 AM
I think at a minimum, understanding the concepts of key, and how scales and chords relate, is the difference between playing a song, and playing music. Like JJ said - it's the difference between being told how to make something, and being able to make something. His cooking metaphor is perfect.

Imagine building a house by only being told what steps to take, and not being able to understand why the steps are important. If anything deviates from the plan – you have no ability to adapt or change. Chances are, you’ll build a crappy house and not know why.

Music theory is about the "why" and not just the "how". You don’t need it – but it sure makes things easier.

That’s the common misconception – that music theory complicates things. In fact, it simplifies everything and makes more things possible in a shorter amount of time.

As for standard notation (which for the record has almost nothing to do with musical theory) - I can't sight read, although I can puzzle out notation given a bit of time. I prefer Nashville notation when I write – it’s just a short-hand style of chord chart that is independent of key. Again, understanding various notation just makes things easier.

StereoJoker
03-23-2010, 08:24 AM
It goes for almost everything -- you need to know the rules in order to break them.

I know a fair amount of theory, but most of the time, I ignore it :). Conventional rules and standards bore me too much. But this pretty much only applies to how I use the ukulele as an instrument: for me, it's more of a tool to provide accompaniment for storytelling rather than a lone instrument. In my case, music theory isn't too much of a big deal (knowing scales, chord formations and keys are about all I really need).

If you want to get involved in jams, a strong background in basic music theory is necessary. If you want to treat the ukulele as its own instrument, even more is necessary. Knowing how to read sheet music doesn't seem necessary for the uke, though (helpful, of course, when the need arises), because (and correct me if I'm wrong, folks) there isn't a whole lot of sheet music available for the ukulele. I mean, you're not going to find tons of symphonies written for the ukulele or anything right now. Most people rely on tablature, so it's more helpful to know how to read that.

It all depends what you want to actually do with the uke. To use JJ's analogy further, if you want to make a beautifully-presented dish, it doesn't necessarily have to taste good (provided nobody eats it). If you want it to look and taste good, you need to know how all the ingredients work with each other. And if you want it to look good, taste good, and have enough to serve to 100+ people, you need to know all the previous information and how to prepare it efficiently without winding up poisoning anyone in the process. (I think I took this too far, but you get the idea.)

nomis
03-23-2010, 08:26 AM
I have found this to be a very useful book, I would highly recommend it:

http://www.halleonard.com/product/viewproduct.do?itemid=311167&lid=0&keywords=jazzology&subsiteid=1&

si

JCMcGee
03-23-2010, 08:43 AM
"If you want to get involved in jams, a strong background in basic music theory is necessary."

Sorry...but this has been mentioned on this thread twice...and it's utter nonsence.

A good pair of ears and a bit of soul will get you further than any music theory in any "jam"....I've jammed with people from all corners of the world, none of them have a clue about what we in the west call music theory....all fantastic at jamming.

What percentage of Blues players have any understanding of theory?

GrumpyCoyote
03-23-2010, 09:06 AM
"If you want to get involved in jams, a strong background in basic music theory is necessary."


What percentage of Blues players have any understanding of theory?
Keep in mind that "theory" can be discovered instinctively and does not need to be learned from a book. If you know how to jam with folks, and know why those chords fit together, then you know a large chunk (arguably the most important chunk) of music theory. It’s not something that needs to be academic.

Every blues player I ever played with knew what a I, IV, and V chord was (even if they didn't know what they were called) and how to transpose on the fly. They know how to play in key – and know what scales go when for improvisation. They just learned it all by playing rather than by reading - but it's all still "music theory" and they all need it to do what they do.

So to answer your question “What percentage of Blues players have any understanding of theory?” I’d venture 100% - even if they don’t know they know it.

Craig
03-23-2010, 09:13 AM
IMHO, Theory for theory sake, is useless. However, knowing some of the basics really helps. Like how to harmonize a scale: CMaj7, Dm7, Em7, FM7, G7, Am7, Bm7(b5) and CMaj7. So, if I'm explaining a new song to someone and I know the chord progession, I can say, "It's a I, IV, V in C." - C, F & G7.

ukecantdothat
03-23-2010, 09:36 AM
Keep in mind that "theory" can be discovered instinctively and does not need to be learned from a book. If you know how to jam with folks, and know why those chords fit together, then you know a large chunk (arguably the most important chunk) of music theory. It’s not something that needs to be academic.

Every blues player I ever played with knew what a I, IV, and V chord was (even if they didn't know what they were called) and how to transpose on the fly. They know how to play in key – and know what scales go when for improvisation. They just learned it all by playing rather than by reading - but it's all still "music theory" and they all need it to do what they do.

So to answer your question “What percentage of Blues players have any understanding of theory?” I’d venture 100% - even if they don’t know they know it.

This is very well put. Theory is in the eye of the beholder. Paul McCartney can't read music, but he knows a ton theory to be sure. EVERY blues player I know knows what I IV V means, as do all the calypso and soca and samba cats I play with now. The percussionists I've been working with have their own language that I'm still grappling with. It doesn't matter how much "feeling" I have, their knowlege of the beats within the beats has been invaluable to me. Thank god they've been patient with my bluesy butt! The hard core ones wouldn't even give you time of day if you mess up the clave beat of a rumba. So learn the "theory" behind whatever the music is first, then add the "feeling" once you don't have to think about it anymore.

Tudorp
03-23-2010, 09:42 AM
I think maybe what he meant by "knowing" meaning the educated "therory". I agree that anybody that has musical ability knows the laws by instint, and maybe not by "formal" education. I don't call that learning it, I call it "knowing" it, or "Feeling" it. I have known music majors that KNEW the science of music, but couldn't play a note because they seemed tone deaf. They knew it, but just didn't possess it in their "soul" to apply it. What good is that? Maybe none. I think that anybody that has a passion for music needs the heart first, and if they choose to educate themselves formally to learn the science in what they are doing, more power to them, and it can do nothing but help them.

I did it through the school of hard knocks. Learning by fumbling around and finding the notes, keys, that made the sounds I wanted. I can play something that people love, but I have not a freaking clue what "key" it is in, or each individual note is. All I know, is it touches me, and touches others. It sounds good. Again, I would love to "know" what I am doing, and not have to rely on "feel" as much. But, I have tried to learn music formally several times over the years, but I just have a mental block with it. i wish I could learn it. But, so far, I have done nothing but get myself frustrated where I wont pick up an instrument for a few years. I throw down the sheets of music, and just play, and that is what everyone likes to hear from me. When I try to stick to the laws, and science of it, it just sounds clumsey and mechanical from me anyway.

That said, I never want belittle education. It is important, and again, would have made it easier for me if I had it in music. I wish I was able to "Get it". But, again, I just end up tossing it, and going back to what I "feel". And that works for me.

PoisonDart
03-23-2010, 09:56 AM
Music Theory provides a common language to identify why something that works, works. It can also formalize your education, just by introducing you to things you haven't had a lot of experience with (polyrhythms, modes)..

But Music theory isn't really about tell you what to play, but more, generalizing something that does work, so that you can look at it from many points of view, and discuss it in a commonly understood language with other musicians.

pulelehua
03-23-2010, 10:00 AM
I think the more you know, the more you understand which directions to explore.

If I want to play a strange/different rhythm, I might think about an unusual time signature, an occasional bar in a different time, a polyrhythm, or a syncopated relationship of notes to beats. If I want an unusual melody, jamming along with the much discussed blues progression, I might throw on a whole tone scale, or a harmonic minor with a flattened second. I might do both within the same solo, and I will create something fairly unusual, but which is unified by my ear, and my brain's understanding of the logic of what I'm doing. I might play accompanying chords which create extensions which get increasingly chromatic, taking me further from the original key, and allowing me to jam over the top with alternate scales. I might

I don't think I'd do any of these things if I didn't understand theory.

Can you make great music without theory? Of course you can. It's kind of a ridiculous question. People can create beautiful poetry and write amazing prose who have never academically studied those things. But there are worlds they would probably not get to.

All that being said, when I was in a punk band many years ago, the singer had written a song which I couldn't play because it didn't make sense AND I couldn't feel it. It was in a sort of crazy 15/16, for the geeks out there. It just dropped a fraction of time at the end of every bar, and we couldn't keep it together for more than a few bars. BUT, I couldn't get the feel anyway. It was when I couldn't feel it that I tried to intellectualise it. Theory was a safety net for my ear.

And no, it doesn't always work.

What I would say is that the musicians I admire who don't know theory tend to be more 2-dimensional than those who do.

arashi_nero
03-23-2010, 10:38 AM
So far, this thread has been a very entertaining read. It doesn't seem like either side is going to win and it's basically a waste of time to try to convince eachother that having some kind of knowledge of music theory does or does not help you to play your ukulele.

That being said, I'm going to throw in my two cents about the subject. One of my bachelor degrees in college was in music performance. Tudorp, your teacher was probably a new graduate and was a music education major. There's a huge difference between music performance and music education. Education majors have to learn how to teach and each teacher does things differently. I have done jazz band and my teacher was awesome. He was really good at theory and understood theory for what it is supposed to be used for. I have also done band and orchestra. When doing regular band and orchestra, especially at a non-college level, you have to put people to the grindstone to get them to play correctly. Jazz bands are usually given quite a bit more artistic liberty. However, people who are in jazz band usually have a better understanding of music (whether they can read it or not) than your average person in band and orchestra.

The purpose of theory is to write music that is not offensive to the ears. Most songs follow a certain patterns (and this goes even for people who can't read music like the beatles analogy above). For those of us who are trying to play music, theory really helps when sight reading. even if you've never heard a song, by using theory and analyzing a piece, you can partially understand what the composer was to portray through that song. You'd better believe that every conductor of every band and orchestra and jazz band analyzes every piece in one way or another before putting it in front of their group and they will take it in the artistic direction they the composer wanted the music to go. However, you are right about some people not being able to put soul into music tho. Just because you know what the composer was thinking doesn't mean you can play it that way. One of my jobs as a music performance major was to really figure out how to put my soul in to the music i was playing. You'd better believe I take much artistic liberty when I'm playing ;). If you knew music majors who couldn't do that, they'd have a hard time passing their jurries to graduate.

As for using theory in playing the 'ukulele, I have actually found much more application for theory than I did when I was playing the bassoon for my degree. Someone said it earlier where it's easier to see the theory when you're playing chords as opposed to playing one note at a time. I totally understand and agree with that--theory really makes more sense now than it did when I was in school. Do you need to know how to read music to play the uke good: no. Do you need to have a expansive knowledge of theory to enjoy playing: no. However, having a working knowledge of your instrument will definitely help you in the long run. Things like the order of the keys (circle of 5ths) and the chords for each of those keys will help if you decide to transpose to a different key. Also knowing how chords are built is extremely important. We have a kid in the ukulele club I go to who plays beautifully. He really knows his chords and the songs in the keys we are sent the songs. But ask him to play a different inversion of any of those chords or transpose the song to a different key, and he couldn't do it to save his life. Does he need to learn how to read music to keep playing: no. Will he enjoy playing more if he were to learn basic theory: maybe. What I know is that it will save his voice when he can't sing in the key the song is written in if he used basic theory to transpose it to a more sing-able key.

Tudorp
03-23-2010, 10:39 AM
"If I want to play a strange/different rhythm, I might think about an unusual time signature, an occasional bar in a different time, a polyrhythm, or a syncopated relationship of notes to beats. If I want an unusual melody, jamming along with the much discussed blues progression, I might throw on a whole tone scale, or a harmonic minor with a flattened second. I might do both within the same solo, and I will create something fairly unusual, but which is unified by my ear, and my brain's understanding of the logic of what I'm doing. I might play accompanying chords which create extensions which get increasingly chromatic, taking me further from the original key, and allowing me to jam over the top with alternate scales."

HUH? I rest my case!!! hahha.. Just kiddin. Funny when sometimes I play or have my instrument with me, and someone walks up to me and talks like that. I just have to give them that blank stare and kindly let them know that I don't have a freaking clue what they just said, hahhah..

ukecantdothat
03-23-2010, 10:41 AM
I think the more you know, the more you understand which directions to explore.

If I want to play a strange/different rhythm, I might think about an unusual time signature, an occasional bar in a different time, a polyrhythm, or a syncopated relationship of notes to beats. If I want an unusual melody, jamming along with the much discussed blues progression, I might throw on a whole tone scale, or a harmonic minor with a flattened second. I might do both within the same solo, and I will create something fairly unusual, but which is unified by my ear, and my brain's understanding of the logic of what I'm doing. I might play accompanying chords which create extensions which get increasingly chromatic, taking me further from the original key, and allowing me to jam over the top with alternate scales.....
This brings up a good point in this useful thread. A while back (1978-ish) I wrote a song that actually got airplay on a San Diego rock station (KGB 101FM). It was at a time I was taking theory in college, so I cranked out an instrumental with a latin vibe because I was into Santana, and applied a 21/8 rhythm on it, broken down to a 3-2-3-2-3-3-3-2 pattern. Just recently I resurrected it for uke, replacing the electric guitar. When I did this rough, it all came back to me and I hadn't thought of it for, yikes, more than 30 years! Not to shamelessly plug my YT channel, but here's the demo of it I posted for our percussionist to get a feel of it, because we're in the process of doing a studio recording of it. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z88xkZf9DXo This guy who came in to do a tabla part listened once with the above described pattern and in one take laid down a blistering part full of feeling, and even soloed at the end. My jaw dropped. But again, that's what knowlege of a liitle theory does, be it notes or beats.

Tudorp
03-23-2010, 10:41 AM
Im not on either side really. I am on the don't know theory side of the fence, but do admit that it WOULD help in playing any instrument. On the other hand, I don't feel it is needed, but would help make it easier.

fahrner
03-23-2010, 10:43 AM
Think I have to side with Tudorp on this one. There's another thread on this forum where folks have gone to great lengths to criticize proper use of the English language. These are obviously very bright people who are very proficient and well versed in the technical aspects of sentence structure etc. But can they write? Do they have the ability to imagine and create. Are they more concerned about what the box looks like verses what's in the box? The same applies to music. I've known people who were great technicians with regard to musical structure. They could play anything correctly out of a book but it would just sound like someone hitting the correct notes. They had no soul or feeling about what they were playing. Jazz from the 60s has always been my favorite form of music. I've studied the players; the ones who were creating. There are plenty of those people who couldn't even read music but they sure could feel it. Admittedly not a lot of people have that gift and fewer still have both. Reading biographies of the Cats from the 60s, most said that they wished they had been stronger on the technical side. Had they been, I don't think they could have gotten where they did. They had no confines to hold them back. They didn't know the rules so they didn't worry about breaking them. Thus, they created something new.

Tudorp
03-23-2010, 10:54 AM
"They had no confines to hold them back. They didn't know the rules so they didn't worry about breaking them. Thus, they created something new." This right here pretty much said my whole argument, in much better, streamlined words, hahha..

Tudorp
03-23-2010, 11:05 AM
I just listened to Ukecantdothat's tune. Awesome. Being an old Santana fan myself, love it. You can hear the influence for sure.

arashi_nero
03-23-2010, 11:05 AM
"They had no confines to hold them back. They didn't know the rules so they didn't worry about breaking them. Thus, they created something new." This right here pretty much said my whole argument, in much better, streamlined words, hahha..

then you have composers like mozart, bach, tchaikowski, and many modern writers who knew the rules and still didn't care about breaking them. music changes because of people who challenge the rules

Tudorp
03-23-2010, 11:07 AM
Allot of truth to that in all aspects of life really though. It's the rebels, the people that aren't afraid to cross the line someone drawn in the sand (whether due to ignorance, or just dont care if you break the rule), and take chances that makes things happen.

fahrner
03-23-2010, 11:16 AM
"They had no confines to hold them back. They didn't know the rules so they didn't worry about breaking them. Thus, they created something new." This right here pretty much said my whole argument, in much better, streamlined words, hahha..
Hey.... isn't that what I just said? LOL
Oscar Peterson, many, many notes. Duke Ellington, very few notes. Both are beautiful players.

ukecantdothat
03-23-2010, 11:17 AM
... Reading biographies of the Cats from the 60s, most said that they wished they had been stronger on the technical side. Had they been, I don't think they could have gotten where they did. They had no confines to hold them back. They didn't know the rules so they didn't worry about breaking them. Thus, they created something new.
These cats would have still burned with technical knowlege behind them. There will always be those players who astound no matter what, and the fact that most of them wish they had a greater knowlege of music, just speaks to fact that even the greats know where their weaknesses are. That doesn't take away from their greatness, but it also doesn't mean they would have been hurt by greater proficiency. Music is a funny thing. Like I said, I don't read, but I know enough "theory" to help me along when I need it. My wife on the other hand does read music, took piano lessons for years, but I will tell you this; that doesn't mean she can interact with other musicians. On the contrary. If she pulls out a song book and starts playing and I pick up a guitar or uke and start playing along, she stops, because it throws her off. Even if it's a simple Fleetwood Mac tune. We've played together for various things over the years, but it has to be worked out before she's comfortable. So who's the better player? The one who sits at a piano and plays Chopin beautifully, or the dope who can pick up a uke and play along to Elvis Costello? (Don't answer that...!)

arashi_nero
03-23-2010, 11:22 AM
Allot of truth to that in all aspects of life really though. It's the rebels, the people that aren't afraid to cross the line someone drawn in the sand (whether due to ignorance, or just dont care if you break the rule), and take chances that makes things happen.

quoted for truth!!

Tudorp
03-23-2010, 11:22 AM
yuh.. Hence the "quotes" hahhah..

arashi_nero
03-23-2010, 11:24 AM
just giving credit where it's due :cool:

StereoJoker
03-23-2010, 11:34 AM
I think we're all actually on the same page here. This is what I'm getting from all our responses:

1. Knowledge of music theory is not necessary for making great music
2. Knowledge of music theory is not necessary for playing the ukulele
3. Knowledge of music theory can help immensely if utilized
4. How much music theory you need to know depends on what you'd like to do with the instrument

Am I right, or did I miss something?

ukecantdothat
03-23-2010, 12:00 PM
I think we're all actually on the same page here. This is what I'm getting from all our responses:

1. Knowledge of music theory is not necessary for making great music
2. Knowledge of music theory is not necessary for playing the ukulele
3. Knowledge of music theory can help immensely if utilized
4. How much music theory you need to know depends on what you'd like to do with the instrument

Am I right, or did I miss something?

Just this... Aldrine rocks. :nana:

SailingUke
03-23-2010, 12:29 PM
I think we're all actually on the same page here. This is what I'm getting from all our responses:

1. Knowledge of music theory is not necessary for making great music
2. Knowledge of music theory is not necessary for playing the ukulele
3. Knowledge of music theory can help immensely if utilized
4. How much music theory you need to know depends on what you'd like to do with the instrument

Am I right, or did I miss something?

Here's the real deal and something I believe we can all agree on.
The ukulele is cool. The beauty of music is it can be a lifetime venture.
We can play at whatever level we choose, from simple chord strumming and singing to classical pieces.
The ukulele lends itself as instrument to all level of players.

arashi_nero
03-23-2010, 12:30 PM
I think we're all actually on the same page here. This is what I'm getting from all our responses:

1. Knowledge of music theory is not necessary for making great music
2. Knowledge of music theory is not necessary for playing the ukulele
3. Knowledge of music theory can help immensely if utilized
4. How much music theory you need to know depends on what you'd like to do with the instrument

Am I right, or did I miss something?

you're last post did make sense and was actually somewhat relevant. but this is pretty much what this arguement has boiled down to.

pulelehua
03-23-2010, 12:45 PM
I've never understood the argument which basically says that the more theory you know, the less you feel. But it's probably not a coincidence that people who make that argument all reside on one side of the fence.

And I'm not sure about the argument that great jazz musicians often don't know theory. You put Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Bill Evans and Jimmy Cobb into a room, and you get first take after first take of the best jazz ever. Did they know their theory? Hell, yes. Did that stop of them from playing soulfully? Well, the millions of people who think that Kind of Blue is the definitive postwar jazz album would probably say a resounding no.

You can be smart and intuitive, soulful and thoughtful all at the same time.

And you can know how to play an Italian augmented sixth chord in third inversion, and still get a silly smile playing songs with three chords. Or even two.

If ignorance is bliss, then knowledge is nirvana.

mailman
03-23-2010, 01:02 PM
I've never understood the argument which basically says that the more theory you know, the less you feel. But it's probably not a coincidence that people who make that argument all reside on one side of the fence.

And I'm not sure about the argument that great jazz musicians often don't know theory. You put Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderley, Paul Chambers, Bill Evans and Jimmy Cobb into a room, and you get first take after first take of the best jazz ever. Did they know their theory? Hell, yes. Did that stop of them from playing soulfully? Well, the millions of people who think that Kind of Blue is the definitive postwar jazz album would probably say a resounding no.

You can be smart and intuitive, soulful and thoughtful all at the same time.

And you can know how to play an Italian augmented sixth chord in third inversion, and still get a silly smile playing songs with three chords. Or even two.

If ignorance is bliss, then knowledge is nirvana.

If, indeed, ignorance is bliss....I guess I can't get much happier! :D

EDW
03-23-2010, 03:28 PM
I agree with the idea that knowledge and feeling are not exclusive. The knowledge of theory just helps.

I have known players who have not known much theory comment that they wish they knew more. I have never heard of a player who reads music or understands the notation and theory complain that they wish they knew less!

That said, whatever works and makes you happy.

ikarin
03-24-2010, 04:08 PM
Dear all,
Wow, while I was away for some days after posting this thread, so many replies/opinions I find now.

And they seems very interesting and so diverse in themes too starting from importance (or non-) about theory, examples of cooking, book recommendations, where you want to go (like goal) to musicality, or souls...

I'll need TIME, for I want to read cover to cover!
Just for now, I say THANK YOU very much for all your time and energy here for me (and maybe all reading this thread).

Naoko-san

Manalishi
03-25-2010, 12:34 AM
I'm with both sides on this one!
Yes,you need the knowledge,however simple,of being able to finger the correct chords,yes it
helps if you know the song to start with,and yes the timing/rhythm certainly matter.But so long
as you are playing your music and enjoying it,that is worth a whole load of theory,to me!

EDW
03-25-2010, 03:43 AM
We both saw,years
ago,a performance on the Michael Parkinson show,by Stephan Grapelli and Yehudi Menuin,as
both men played together.It was a 'swing' piece,can't remember which one,and the point we
both agreed on,was that whilst Grapelli swung with his music,and obviously loved every second,
Menuin,with a 'sheet' of some kind,on a music stand,played his part competently,but looked
uncomfortable,all through the piece.

Well, we are talking about 2 different issues. Menuhin, being a classical player, was out of his element. I know players who are amazing readers and players, but don't know jazz and therefore struggle with the feel. On the other hand, I know players who have, what is to me, the best of both worlds. They can read and understand anything, have great chops, and can play any style.