What I'm theorizing about today

Everything you say is 100% true. However I have a special encumbrance. I know what four notes are on every fret. So I know the fretboard and its 80 voices, but that knowledge wasn't translating into music for me. The big ah-ha moment for me was when I relearnt the fretboard in a musical context. I used the E harmonic minor and then I knew not only the names of the notes but the intervallic relationships between the notes. I am not going to aver that everyone should do this as a curriculum, but it did work for my brain and how I had primed myself to approach the idea of the fretboard.
 
I have 2 degrees in Music Ed. Years of theory, harmony, jazz harmony etc. When I'm playing ukulele, I never think about theory. I just play. I like to figure out jazz and old standards and simply do it by ear most of the time. I was playing an old standard tune once, someone asked what chord I was playing at one particular point. I had to admit that I had absolutely no idea. Had to go back and play that section over before I gave an answer. What I was playing sounded right to me and I never gave it a second thought.
I was watching the old Tonight Show years ago. Glen Campbell was a guest and Carson was asking him a question about playing guitar. It was a simple theory question and Glen had no clue. He looked over and asked Doc Severinsen. Glen was an absolute beast of a guitarist and early on a first call studio musician. Couldn't read a note and didn't know a thing about theory. Put a guitar in his hands and he was a genius.
 
Glen Campbell was a guest and Carson was asking him a question about playing guitar. It was a simple theory question and Glen had no clue. He looked over and asked Doc Severinsen. Glen was an absolute beast of a guitarist and early on a first call studio musician. Couldn't read a note and didn't know a thing about theory. Put a guitar in his hands and he was a genius.
Hey @peanuts56 ,
Did you happen to catch the documentary about Glen Campbell, filmed during his late stages of alzhimers? He couldn't recognize his own daughter, didn't know his own name, but every time a guitar was put in his hands, he played flawlessly. It's a sad documentary.
 
Hey @peanuts56 ,
Did you happen to catch the documentary about Glen Campbell, filmed during his late stages of alzhimers? He couldn't recognize his own daughter, didn't know his own name, but every time a guitar was put in his hands, he played flawlessly. It's a sad documentary.
Glen’s condition was (and is) indeed sad but I cling to hope that the part of the brain that handles musical genius is distinctly separate from the rest and may even be somehow “immune” to the ravages of dementia. And, if that’s the case, there will someday be a talented team of neurosurgeons who can figure a way to beat / reverse it.
 
I have 2 degrees in Music Ed. Years of theory, harmony, jazz harmony etc. When I'm playing ukulele, I never think about theory. I just play. I like to figure out jazz and old standards and simply do it by ear most of the time. I was playing an old standard tune once, someone asked what chord I was playing at one particular point. I had to admit that I had absolutely no idea. Had to go back and play that section over before I gave an answer. What I was playing sounded right to me and I never gave it a second thought.
I was watching the old Tonight Show years ago. Glen Campbell was a guest and Carson was asking him a question about playing guitar. It was a simple theory question and Glen had no clue. He looked over and asked Doc Severinsen. Glen was an absolute beast of a guitarist and early on a first call studio musician. Couldn't read a note and didn't know a thing about theory. Put a guitar in his hands and he was a genius.
I remember reading somewhere, someone asked the Reverend Gary Davis if he could read music. He replied, “Not enough to hurt my playing.”
 
Hey @peanuts56 ,
Did you happen to catch the documentary about Glen Campbell, filmed during his late stages of alzhimers? He couldn't recognize his own daughter, didn't know his own name, but every time a guitar was put in his hands, he played flawlessly. It's a sad documentary.
I did see it when it first came out. We went through 11 years of this with my mother in law. We met Glen's widow at a tribute show for Glen. She and my wife talked quite a bit about the challenges. Jimmy Webb and Glen's daughter Ashley were the performers. The show was filmed for PBS and we sat next to Kim Campbell. Jimmy Webb's wife Laura produced the show.
Met Jimmy numerous times. He always says he has never met anyone as gifted as Glen.
 
I remember reading somewhere, someone asked the Reverend Gary Davis if he could read music. He replied, “Not enough to hurt my playing.”
Truer words have never been spoken.
Glen Campbell was hosting The Midnight Special yeas ago. George Benson was a guest. This was shortly after Breezin came out.
Glen joined George on Affirmation and they blew it to bits. Like Glen, George can't read music. Didn't seem to hurt them.
 
I remember in college that my professors always told me to take it easy and have a work/life balance. But their advise came after they had busted their butt for 20 years. So I haven't the training or experience to allow me to say I'm a natural and that all this struggle is meaningless; I'm still in the process.

What I have been doing today is working around my comfort zone. Previously I was documenting how I was enjoying working with a B and D# in E minor. So I took a scale that specifically omits those notes. I latched on to the E altered scale because it doesn't have those notes. Instead it uses the notes around those notes. Instead of a B it has a A# and a C. This scale abounds in augmented chords and add 9 chords--which are challenging. But I created a progression using those eccentric chord qualities and I supported the chords with notes taken from the middle of the fretboard since that's my current bête noire. I'm struggling to find a melodic way to use these things and I hope your Sunday is productive as well
 
Today I just grabbed three concepts and patched them together make some music.
1. I arbitrarily just latched onto a I VI II V progression whose chord qualities were m, ø, ø, 7b9. Since the latter 3 chords are 7 chords, I felt emboldened to make use of tritone substitutions for variety.
2. I used the Super Lokrian scale for diagonal runs across the fretboard
3. I used modes of the Harmonic Minor modes to play over the progression

So that's just a quick way to organize my playing for an hour to come up with some melodies.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious I want to say that I am not submitting these snapshots of my mind as a curriculum. I need to use these concepts because of how I approach music, but I can imagine that other people would never need any of this...especially if they are playing arrangements.
 
Today I was noodling around playing some pieces I had learn a while back and some things I’m currently working on. I had seen Corey and Kalei improvising to La Vie en rose and I started playing around with passing chords and embellishments that they used as well as some of Matt Stead’s hints. I was trying to work out intros, turnarounds, and finishes for the different songs.

The funny thing was that before long I had a variety of little progressions cobbled together that belonged to no song at all. At first it was a bit Frankensteinish with some things that fit smoothly and others that seemed out of place. However, quite unconsciously, interesting patterns began to fall into place. There is nothing original here, but I’m developing some intuition about what naturally follows or what sorts of changes make sense and it becomes a little more like tinker toys or legos. I enjoyed the realization that there were multiple possibilities for how to get from place to place.

I know this is a theory thread, but today’s explorations are much more exciting to me than figuring out after the fact that it was a V of V or ii V I. Also, no way could I have done this except with ukulele in hand and having learned a series of chord/melody arrangements.
 
Just as a coda to what I said above, I will often employ theory after I do stuff in order to analyze what I did so that I can then understand, manipulate, and globalize my results.

Also, I guess I was lucky insofar as my teachers were old-fashioned and they didn't acknowledge the 20th century construct of musical theory. They taught music and part of learning music was learning why you put your fingers in certain places as opposed to just teaching you where to put your fingers. To me it is all just a big ball of yarn instead of being compartmentalized
 
Today I just grabbed three concepts and patched them together make some music.
1. I arbitrarily just latched onto a I VI II V progression whose chord qualities were m, ø, ø, 7b9. Since the latter 3 chords are 7 chords, I felt emboldened to make use of tritone substitutions for variety.
2. I used the Super Lokrian scale for diagonal runs across the fretboard
3. I used modes of the Harmonic Minor modes to play over the progression

So that's just a quick way to organize my playing for an hour to come up with some melodies.

At the risk of belaboring the obvious I want to say that I am not submitting these snapshots of my mind as a curriculum. I need to use these concepts because of how I approach music, but I can imagine that other people would never need any of this...especially if they are playing arrangements.

Arbitrarily take the key of Cm.
Is there a way to communicate your first point to give an idea of what that chord progression sounds like? Is this the progression?

Cm Aflatdim7 Dmdim7 G7flat9
 
I would suggest that "theory" (i.e. western musical convention) does come before creativity if what you are trying to create has a structure that follows said western musical convention. Otherwise your are just plucking notes or making sounds at random to find something that sounds good to your ear.

But to comment on this thread (and the other musical theory thread in general) I would personally say that I am learning "theory" simply because I enjoy it and I find it interesting. It does not really matter to me that what I learn may or not have an end goal in terms of how useful it is to me in my playing. It is satisfying when it does but I don't view the process purely in such pragmatic terms. I am lucky to be in one group where we have a hugely talented musician who enjoys teaching us noobs all aspects of "theory" and we enjoy the process of learning. Simple as that really. But I've enjoyed reading all the comments in these threads.
 
I agree, Steve_S. I just like to learn stuff. I didn't mention it because I didn't get the feeling people were interested. It is funny but people will expatiate on how tone woods or bracings or strings will change an instrument's timbre +/- a micromeasurement, but they don't want to talk about the building-blocks of music. Alas, if we live long enough, maybe the pendulum will swing back to our side.
 
I find that theory greatly facilitates creativity. It's like an artist knowing how to mix colors or use different brush techniques, how to stretch a canvas, pencil in a rough sketch before applying paint, knowing about perspective, balance, translucence... When you "learn" theory, you shouldn't just be picking up ideas but also practicing how to use them.

Two of the most valuable but neglected skills among ukulele players are recognition of intervals by ear and the ability to play intervals anywhere on the fretboard. Intervals are the fundamental building blocks for everything we do melodically or harmonically on the fretboard.
 
Arbitrarily take the key of Cm.
Is there a way to communicate your first point to give an idea of what that chord progression sounds like? Is this the progression?

Cm Aflatdim7 Dmdim7 G7flat9
I think ripock was giving the symbols for half-diminished chords. Another way to state this is to call it a minor7flat5 chord. I guess I would write out his progression as Cm Am7b5 Dm7b5 G7b9. (Taken in your arbitrary choice of Cm.)

The G7b9 is equivalent to a G#dim7 (usually notated with the little degree sign without the slash through it). This chord doesn't sound all that great to my ear. A regular G7 sounds better to me.
These chords can be played as something like a descending line cliche: 5333 2333 1213 0212 (this is open G7) but I think it sounds nicer with the G7 at 4535 which gives it a little lift at the end.
A G7b9 would be 4545. Try it if you like it.

The tritone substitution for the 7th chords would be found by looking diametrically across the circle of fifths. The tritone sub for G7 is Db7. That is all well and good, but my question is: Can you really make a tritone substitution for Am7b5? I don't know if you can apply the same tritone principle for something with so many alterations and get it to sound close enough to be a substitute chord for the original. Let's find out.

Consider the open form of G7 (0232). These notes are G. the tonic; D, the fifth; F, the flatted seventh; and B, the third.
The tritone substitution is Db7 (1112). These notes are Ab, the fifth; Db, the tonic; F, the third; and B, the flatted seventh.
Note how the F and the B are common in both chords, functioning as either the third or as the flatted seventh. This is the core reason why the substitution works, because these notes are preserved when the substitution is made. The other notes of the chords alter by a half-step (which is another interesting property of tritone substitutions; they add chromaticism to chord progressions.)

If we took Am7b5 and tried to do the same process of looking across the circle of fifths and retaining the chord qualities, that would land us on Ebm7b5.
We noted that Am7b5 works out to be 2333 where the notes are A, the tonic; Eb, the flatted fifth; G, the flatted seventh; and C, the minor third.
Now how about Ebm7b5? That would be 2324 and the notes are A, the flat five; Eb, the tonic: Gb, the minor third; and Db, the flatted seventh.
Well, look at that...it does work, but now the retained notes are A and Eb and they are switching roles as the tonic and the flat-five. Similarly, it is now the flat-seven and the minor third that are being chromatically altered.

So, I guess tritone substitution probably works for these half-diminished chords as well.

Therefore, I would lay out Ripock's progression with the substitutions as follows:
Cm / Am7b5 / Dm7b5 / G7
Cm / (Ebm7b5) / (Ab7b5) / (Db7) where these chords in parenthesis can act as a substitution for the chord above it.

Here are possible fingerings for these chords and substitutions for you to play and experiment with:

5333 / 2333 / 1213 / 4535
5333 / (2324) / (1222) / (1112)

Note how the tritone substitutions make chromatic movements happen like 2333 to 1222 and 2324 to 1213.

So what did I do for theory today? I sat here with my ukulele and tried to wrap my head around these more complicated tritone substitutions!
 
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I think ripock was giving the symbols for half-diminished chords. Another way to state this is to call it a minor7flat5 chord. I guess I would write out his progression as Cm Am7b5 Dm7b5 G7b9. (Taken in your arbitrary choice of Cm.)

The G7b9 is equivalent to a G#dim7 (usually notated with the little degree sign without the slash through it). This chord doesn't sound all that great to my ear. A regular G7 sounds better to me.
These chords can be played as something like a descending line cliche: 5333 2333 1213 0212 (this is open G7) but I think it sounds nicer with the G7 at 4535 which gives it a little lift at the end.
A G7b9 would be 4545. Try it if you like it.

The tritone substitution for the 7th chords would be found by looking diametrically across the circle of fifths. The tritone sub for G7 is Db7. That is all well and good, but my question is: Can you really make a tritone substitution for Am7b5? I don't know if you can apply the same tritone principle for something with so many alterations and get it to sound close enough to be a substitute chord for the original. Let's find out.

Consider the open form of G7 (0232). These notes are G. the tonic; D, the fifth; F, the flatted seventh; and B, the third.
The tritone substitution is Db7 (1112). These notes are Ab, the fifth; Db, the tonic; F, the third; and B, the flatted seventh.
Note how the F and the B are common in both chords, functioning as either the third or as the flatted seventh. This is the core reason why the substitution works, because these notes are preserved when the substitution is made. The other notes of the chords alter by a half-step (which is another interesting property of tritone substitutions; they add chromaticism to chord progressions.)

If we took Am7b5 and tried to do the same process of looking across the circle of fifths and retaining the chord qualities, that would land us on Ebm7b5.
We noted that Am7b5 works out to be 2333 where the notes are A, the tonic; Eb, the flatted fifth; G, the flatted seventh; and C, the minor third.
Now how about Ebm7b5? That would be 2324 and the notes are A, the flat five; Eb, the tonic: Gb, the minor third; and Db, the flatted seventh.
Well, look at that...it does work, but now the retained notes are A and Eb and they are switching roles as the tonic and the flat-five. Similarly, it is now the flat-seven and the minor third that are being chromatically altered.

So, I guess tritone substitution probably works for these half-diminished chords as well.

Therefore, I would lay out Ripock's progression with the substitutions as follows:
Cm / Am7b5 / Dm7b5 / G7
Cm / (Ebm7b5) / (Ab7b5) / (Db7) where these chords in parenthesis can act as a substitution for the chord above it.

Here are possible fingerings for these chords and substitutions for you to play and experiment with:

5333 / 2333 / 1213 / 4535
5333 / (2324) / (1222) / (1112)

Note how the tritone substitutions make chromatic movements happen like 2333 to 1222 and 2324 to 1213.

So what did I do for theory today? I sat here with my ukulele and tried to wrap my head around these more complicated tritone substitutions!
Awesome. That helps a ton. I was thinking the VI of Cm was Ab.
You gave me a bunch to sort through. I will definitely mess with some of that stuff. Thank you for that.
 
Glen’s condition was (and is) indeed sad but I cling to hope that the part of the brain that handles musical genius is distinctly separate from the rest and may even be somehow “immune” to the ravages of dementia. And, if that’s the case, there will someday be a talented team of neurosurgeons who can figure a way to beat / reverse it.
I was reading a book “Musicophilia” by Oliver Sacks that was discussing exactly this. Unfortunately the book was due back at the library before I finished it, and I haven’t checked it out again (yet). Music remains, and can be a way to reach people who seem unreachable.
 
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