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  #1  
Old 06.24.05, 1:42 PM
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Guitar Theory

I consider myself a decent guitar player and a very creative musician, but writing songs has always been a challenge because I really don't know the theory behind what I'm playing. Most of the time I just get lucky when the chord I play sounds like what I hear in my head.
Does anyone know any good books or other resources to learn some music theory and how it relates to guitar? I have SOME music theory background, so it doesn't have to be totally beginner level....

Thanks.
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Old 06.24.05, 7:46 PM
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Not sure if this could work for you but when I started learning theory I went out and bought a scale book. After studying that for a long time all the patterns just started fitting together in my head like pieces a puzzle and suddenly I understood how to contruct all the different chords and what notes belong in each key etc.
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Old 06.29.05, 12:23 PM
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One thing I would suggest if you are having trouble finding what chord to go to next is to learn your circle of fifths inside and out, including all relative majors and minors. This will help you from just randomly hits chords and not knowing which chords will fit.

Also, learning how to modulate (switch from one key to another) is very usually and help to create a less drone sounding song that uses the same 3 chords over and over. Learn your 7ths for this and your diminished chords. Knowing that say F 7th wants to pull to B flat is some of the most usefull information when trying to write a song. There are hundreds of theory books out there, I dont know which one is better than the other though, trick is just to practice and get a feel for which chords progressions work.

Heres a nice chord progression not might not seem obvious as an example.

C maj, G maj, F maj, F min.

Also, try learning other songs people have written, that will give you better ideas as to what kind of chord progression you want for the sound in your head.

Blue
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Old 06.29.05, 1:12 PM
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Learn about intervals, learn about how chords relate to each other.

And if anyone tells you, "I never learn no music theory an it makes me more unikue" punch them in the face.
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Old 06.29.05, 10:45 PM
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For blues and rock 1 - 4 - 5 progressions are pretty common. In rock you can pretty much play power chords or any good sounding chord in that progression. In blues it depends on what string the root is on and there are 8 bar blues and 12 bar blues and they have a turnaround and stuff.
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Old 06.30.05, 3:14 PM
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Thanks for your suggestions. I was really hoping to find a resource (a book, website, whatever) that would give an large scale view of how chords and progressions work. So I have a full understanding of what I'm playing, rather than just following a formula. So it becomes a tool rather than a crutch, basically.
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Old 07.01.05, 8:36 AM
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Just another tid-bit that may seem a little off, and may not be an option for some, but learning the piano, at least the basics such as the chords and scales on a piano while help you out tremenously with any theory you might want to learn or be lacking. All music students (at least in a college level) are required to take loads of piano courses. Most people start out on piano anyway, then decide they don't like it and go to guitar, but the piano helps you visualize the music better than a guitar usually.

As for theory books and the like, Alfred's is prob the most popular.
Maybe you would want to start with a book entitled "Scales, chords, and arrpegios."

I personally started out on piano(about 10 years), and still actively play, but now consider my self a guitar player(about 7). Theory always came easy after visializing the piano rather than a guitar.
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Old 07.01.05, 1:47 PM
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Yeah, I've been thinking about that for a while. I'm self taught, so the guitar is limiting because when thinking about chords, I tend to think of the shape of the chord rather than the notes I'm playing. I think learning piano would make you focus on that more.
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Old 07.01.05, 2:16 PM
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i used to be one of those guys that was like "i dont need theory" now that ive had a couple of theory courses for my minor i know that i dont really need theory, but it makes playing so much more enjoyable, as i dont really have to wrack my brains to come up with parts or play along with a band. i, like you, picked up a little theory from guitar magazines or whatnot, but my eyes werent really opened until i took theory courses in college. in my humble opinion, a class taught by a professional, where you get a grade (incentive to practice and study) is the best way to learn theory. while i still dont know much, the two semesters i had were priceless in how much they helped me as a musician. not really physically, my chops are still laughable, but mentally, i feel more cofident as a musician, plus i get off a little when i get to correct my friends who play guitar. plus i was always a little frustrated with just getting guitar books and whatnot.

a college course may not be accessible to you, but similar routes are all over the place.
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Old 07.11.05, 6:14 PM
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theory can be the rotten apple!!!!!!!!!!!!
seriously why have a book a scale a teacher tell you what is suposed to sound and not!!!
now i would say (this is the opposite of what i did) just keep going at it until you find the notes and your ear will get better that the search for whatever note/chord you are looking for will get shorter and shorter. it is about the music in your head right, believe me theory can corrupt you.
all the great guitar players( holdsworth, landau,l metheney etc) studied theory but all my favorite musicians(adam jones, massive attack, robert smith, coil ...you see i am not much of a guitarfan per se) sound like they didn't.
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Old 07.12.05, 12:48 AM
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BlueHeaven's totally right. I started on piano, (about 4 years) and still play. My teacher did and does give me all classical music and we study theory. I visualize all my chords and scales and other theory-esque things with piano. The main reasons I started guitar were to become versatile but more so so that I could play more of the music I like. Unfortunately, my guitar theory is behind. Obviously all the terms and so forth are the same, but I don't know the chords on guitar like I do on piano. With piano someone can say a chord name and my hand just naturally plays it. In guitar I have to visualize it on piano, figure out the notes, find the notes on gutiar, and then figure out the best hand position. But it was similar with piano at first. I suppose with time I'll become better with guitar also. Sites like www.guitartricks.com and www.cyberfret.com may help you. I've never used Alfred books with guitar, but my first year or so with piano I used them. I'd say get some straight theory books and just study them.
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Old 07.12.05, 12:29 PM
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A simple way to start working out the harmony/chords for a song are to go with the usual i-iv-v from the major key and the same chords from the minor key. So in C major, the six chords would be C, F, G7, Am, Dm and E7.

This fits in almost perfectly with the cycly of fourths/fifths that Blue Heaven mentioned.

This theory can also be used to good effect in real songs, a good example being I am the Highway by Audioslave which perfectly outlines the Cycle of Fifths/Fourths perfectly.
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Old 07.18.05, 2:33 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by orpheus
theory can be the rotten apple!!!!!!!!!!!!
seriously why have a book a scale a teacher tell you what is suposed to sound and not!!!
now i would say (this is the opposite of what i did) just keep going at it until you find the notes and your ear will get better that the search for whatever note/chord you are looking for will get shorter and shorter. it is about the music in your head right, believe me theory can corrupt you.
all the great guitar players( holdsworth, landau,l metheney etc) studied theory but all my favorite musicians(adam jones, massive attack, robert smith, coil ...you see i am not much of a guitarfan per se) sound like they didn't.
It's easier to break the rules when you know them.
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Old 07.21.05, 2:02 PM
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Quote:
theory can be the rotten apple!!!!!!!!!!!!
seriously why have a book a scale a teacher tell you what is suposed to sound and not!!!
from orpheus

So not true.

Don't ever let someone tell you theory will ruin your creativity as if its some kind of formula to create blan and redundant music. Why would you try to figure out something that will take you a couple years rather than learning from someone else that will give you a greater understanding in about 2 months. I spent the first 4 years on my piano playing being completely baffilded over what the hell I was playing and how people knew how to write songs. One year of theory and most everything just made sense. Theres no reason to try and re-invent the wheel here. Might as well not listen to other peoples music, cause that may corrupt your sound? Used what people have already done and create your own. Having a note in your head and never knowing how to create it isn't gonna be all that fun.

Just my third cent.
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Old 07.21.05, 2:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by orpheus
theory can be the rotten apple!!!!!!!!!!!!
seriously why have a book a scale a teacher tell you what is suposed to sound and not!!!
now i would say (this is the opposite of what i did) just keep going at it until you find the notes and your ear will get better that the search for whatever note/chord you are looking for will get shorter and shorter. it is about the music in your head right, believe me theory can corrupt you.
all the great guitar players( holdsworth, landau,l metheney etc) studied theory but all my favorite musicians(adam jones, massive attack, robert smith, coil ...you see i am not much of a guitarfan per se) sound like they didn't.

Quote:
Originally posted by GDan

And if anyone tells you, "I never learn no music theory an it makes me more unikue" punch them in the face.
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