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Thread: Do I need to learn music theory to play the ukulele?

  1. #11
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    I've come to believe musical theory is often nothing more than a way of explaining why some things sound right while others do not. Ultimately, I still rely on my ears to tell me that.
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  2. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukuleleprorobin View Post
    Is it necessary to have music theory knowledge to play the ukulele?
    No it is not necessary. You can just memorize some chords and start playing songs immediately, which is why ukes are so beloved.

    I'm a theory nerd myself. I find it fascinating and exciting and liberating. But plenty of people play all kinds of instruments and even write songs without understanding theory.

  3. #13
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    I think that you don't have to learn theory to play an instrument, but you will learn theory when you play an instrument. I see a lot of musicians who say that they do not know music theory, then I watch them putting a whole lot of music theory into practice. Let's face it, as soon as you learn to play a C chord, you are putting a C, an E, and a G together to form a chord, and that is music theory, whether you know that it is or not.
    Last edited by Rllink; 10-22-2018 at 02:22 AM.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...tective+Agency

  4. #14
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    I think when it comes to explaining to someone why we do what we do in selecting
    certain chords that make up our rendition of a song, then Music Theory vocabulary
    comes in handy as a common language or jargon we can use.

    when playing alone, we only have to make sense to ourselves, then anything goes

    as a common way of expressing things to each other, Music Theory vocabulary is handy,
    as long as we mean the same thing with the same words Like 'adjusting' a watch
    movement or 'regulating' it... or 'acronym' vs 'initialism' (I just learned the difference
    the other day ), we can use terms, but if we don't mean the same thing as when
    someone else uses the term, we can confuse each other.

    anyway, ...

    keep uke'in',
    Uncle Rod Higuchi
    ( rohiguchi@gmail.com )

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  5. #15
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    “Need” is a strong word. I played uke long before I wanted to learn more theory. You absorb some theory along the way, but for me, there came a point where I began to notice patterns in chord formation and scales, chord progressions and the like and enjoyed delving into theory to nail down exactly what was going on. It’s liberating to understand what notes makes a certain chord. How can I change that to a minor, a seven, etc, and not have to break out a chord chart. Even something like being able to know what sharps and flats are in each key and why. It may take me a minute but I like being able to figure it out for myself. It’s not really memorizing, it’s understanding. I don’t thing you “need” to do anything but play. Theory knowledge might just become a “want”.

  6. #16

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    It depends on what you want to do with the ukulele as an instrument. For learning how to play songs or play along with others, it's not essential. However it is very good in these situations as will help you to improvise while playing. It will also help you to understand the relationships between chords in progressions, along with which chords work well together and which do not. Having an understanding of theory will also allow you to learn how to construct chords and play scales.

    When I played guitar, I didn't really have any interest in theory, and although I'm learning since I picked up the uke, the one thing that learning theory has really done for me is help me learn to play the likes of scales and lead by ear - when I played guitar, I struggled to play scales across the fretboard and in different positions as I just could not remember the different positions of the patterns. Since trying to learn theory properly, it has definitely helped me in knowing which notes in scales play well together across the fretboard, and has helped me in playing some lead and different progressions.

  7. #17
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    Theory can be very useful for some musicians....very handy if you’re a session player who needs to turn up and read notation for example. Less so for others. Some musicians, say songwriters for instance, may find that having little or no theory, no music “rules” perhaps, actually works to their advantage because they’re more likely to find unusual musical alleyways to wander down.

  8. #18
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    I went down the music theory rabbit hole a few years ago. At first I was just learning theory as it applied to what I was doing and playing on my ukulele, but it took over. I would get into these deep discussions about the most obscure aspects of it and eventually I had to remind myself that I was learning to play the ukulele. I backed off and now I try to keep it relevant.
    I don't want to live in a world that is linear.

    I just want everyone to understand that I am not a ukulele expert, even though it may look at times like I'm pretending to be.

    https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_n...tective+Agency

  9. #19
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    What makes this topic complicated is the fact that theory has such a broad definition that most of us aren't talking about the same thing, although we are all talking about theory. For example I could say anyone who doesn't study theory isn't worth their weight in beans and does not deserve their ukulele. However, by theory I am not thinking about stuff like re-harmonizations or tritone substitutions, but how the ukulele makes higher pitched sounds the closer you move to the soundhole or how orderly the fret board is laid out. So, depending on what definition of theory we are using, our opinions can either be outlandish or commonsensical.

  10. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by ukuleleprorobin View Post
    Is it necessary to have music theory knowledge to play the ukulele?
    No, but it helps! Here's a link to part of another "uke theory" thread from earlier this year:

    https://forum.ukuleleunderground.com...ghlight=steedy

    Scroll about half-way down the page and you will find a couple of posts where I attempted to explain music theory as simply as possible, based on my limited understanding of the subject.
    If music be the food of love, play on! -Bill Shakespeare

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