#1November 14th, 2008 · 08:16 AM
1 threads
1 posts
United Kingdom
Importance of music theory today
Hey
I'm a media composition student and I've got to do a research on the importance of music theory today, especially for media composers (adverts, games, films).
I'd just like to know what you guys think:
-if you know some music theory, is it helpful? when, where why do you think it's important (or if not, why?)

- if you don't know or just very little about music theory, would a deeper knowledge help? or you think it's useless?

Whatever you do, each comment would be of great help! The more the better!

Cheers
#2November 14th, 2008 · 10:48 AM
181 threads / 54 songs
1,930 posts
Canada
I have a very limited knowledge of music theory, and I can say, if I learned more, I would be A LOT better.
Music theory helps you find the scales, all the notes that are "in tune" with each other.
If you know music theory y ou can create some really nice songs.

I think everyone should at least know a little. You can get by without it, but its just not the same.
#3November 14th, 2008 · 02:38 PM
102 threads / 59 songs
204 posts
Canada
A good understanding of music theory can be very helpful, especially if you want to get into writing more complicated stuff. The truth is that a good understanding of theory (and especially harmony) will help you analyze melodies and chord progressions so that you can begin to pinpoint what sounds you like/dislike, what certain melodic lines and chord changes give a sense of and how the music needs to progress to be logical and reasonable and sound good. It's about much, much more than just knowing what sounds good together or doesn't clash, but understanding how to write a theme, expand on it, lengthen it, shorten it, darken or soften it all within the context of good music. But it really depends on what you want to do, how intuitive music is to you and how far you want to take it in terms of harmonic complexity. A really good example is Amazing Grace. We know the melody and let's fit the chords:
|G|G|C|G|
|G|G|D|D|
|G|C/G|Em/D|G|
This is good and it works. Now consider the same melody with these chords (a friend made this arrangement which I loved and serves as a good example for a good number of harmonic tricks)
|G|G7|C|G|
|Em|A|D|D7|
|G|B|C|Cm/F|
|G|Em|C/D|G| (the rhythms off here but you get the point)
Same melody (or at least very similar) two very different progressions, both still making sense. The other very important thing is to understand what it means for a melody or a progression to be logical. There's a lot I could talk about when it comes to how theory is helpful but most of it will just be blabber if you don't know it already. Learn it. It really can't hurt.
#4November 14th, 2008 · 02:48 PM
1 threads
1 posts
United Kingdom
Thanks a lot! That's a great start!
I'm classically trained so I think music theory is important, and I totally agree when you say that learning it can't hurt. That's why I'd really like to find out why some people think it's not useful or it's not worth the hassle. It's true that today's technological tools compensate for a lack of knowledge in music theory, but still...

That example is great, by the way.
#5November 14th, 2008 · 04:06 PM
116 threads / 53 songs
3,059 posts
Netherlands
For sure knowledge of music theory helps. Atleast know basic note names and chords - but the balls with sticks is becoming somewhat of a thing of the past. Although some people prefer to compose music by drawing notes on a bar, even on a computer, most professional midi editors use chromatic bars spanning the height of all availble octaves with note lengths being depicted as a relative width of the entered note on that bar.

In other words.. stick-with-balls kinda thinking is sooo passe. But knowledge of professional midi editors is really kinda necessary if you want to compose sequenced and easy-to-edit music on a computer .. with that comes the knowledge of note and chord naming. Besides all of that, music theory is not needed. A good ear will do.

Extensive music theory study can act as a catalyst for creativity, without a doubt. But it's in no way necessary. As a matter of fact, dogmatic approach of music composition greatly colours one's creative output which cuts both ways.
#6November 14th, 2008 · 04:23 PM
157 threads / 30 songs
1,952 posts
United States of America
Music Theory....... learn  the rules then realize there are no rules.  If you are going to be a top end  working producer/composer. media song writer...... you better know your S**t  errr  stuff.  There is young people and some old people that are going to colleges now that are studying (much like you). music for media .. your knowledge in music should be top rate. you should know as much as you can learn.. melodies, harmonies, counterpoint, and how to apply these to  all instrument both classic (orchestra) and modern (computer generated).

 When I took lessons again and started learning my theory (still learning now),..  make that applied theory.  My musical  knowledge increased .That gives  me more to draw from as far as my writing and guitar playing/.soloing goes. I think it has giving me more taste in my playing. 

players like Steve Via and Guthrie Govan  have  extensive knowledge.
#7November 14th, 2008 · 04:32 PM
54 threads / 29 songs
1,552 posts
United Kingdom
I've not studied music - ok, I know a bit, but as far as music theory is concerned I'm a real dunce.  I'm able to learn other people's songs and create my own music because I seem to have a pretty good ear for it.
So what I'm saying is that I definitely think it's possible to be musically creative without having any real understanding of music theory.

However, I actually feel musically disabled with my limited musical knowledge.  So much so that I've a hankering to learn music theory.  That's pretty significant for me seeing as how I'm not so far away from the half century 

In answer to your question, I guess the answer is that I would really like to know more significantly more as I think it would help with my musical creativity.

Of course I'd also like to be able to play better, afford better instruments, have a better vocal range, and site read either tab or score.... but that's just wishful thinking!

#8November 14th, 2008 · 04:48 PM
116 threads / 53 songs
3,059 posts
Netherlands
toastedgoat wrote…
Music Theory....... learn  the rules then realize there are no rules.  If you are going to be a top end  working producer/composer. media song writer...... you better know your S**t  errr  stuff.  There is young people and some old people that are going to colleges now that are studying (much like you). music for media .. your knowledge in music should be top rate. you should know as much as you can learn.. melodies, harmonies, counterpoint, and how to apply these to  all instrument both classic (orchestra) and modern (computer generated).

Hmm "should be"... well it helps, for sure. Eventually learning how to compose music succesfully is MOSTLY a trial-and-error thing.. Music theory certainly helps in understanding beforehand what will work and what not, but it also colours your original creative output. Music theory is not an exact science.. at all.

I do think that basic knowledge of music theory is required to take your musician's self seriously at all... In this way, that anyone seriously interested in making music will run into the basics of theory and absorbs it along the way.

As a wise man I know once put it: "music is the organisation of sound"... so it certainly helps to study how sound can be organised. But you can already deduct to what extent organisation stretches.. it doesn't stop with tone frequency and expression... it continues into relative volume, panning, equalization and cross-fading etc... Inevitably, being a musician MEANS growing into these things EVER DEEPER. But whether you prefer to do this intuitively or via laid out theories from a book is entirely up to you.

Also, it does help to be able to communicate your findings with your peers, so it may be a good idea to speak the same language.

But in the end, if you want to compete on a professional level, sure the more you know the better! BUT all the knowledge in the world isn't going to save you from a lack of talent. Music cannot be composed merely on a theoretical basis, but you can try if you want to (I'd love to hear the result)

cheers.
#9November 15th, 2008 · 01:24 PM
157 threads / 30 songs
1,952 posts
United States of America
PuppetXeno wrote…
.

As a wise man I know once put it: "music is the organisation of sound"... so it certainly helps to study how sound can be organised. But you can already deduct to what extent organisation stretches.. it doesn't stop with tone frequency and expression... it continues into relative volume, panning, equalization and cross-fading etc... Inevitably, being a musician MEANS growing into these things EVER DEEPER. But whether you prefer to do this intuitively or via laid out theories from a book is entirely up to you.

Also, it does help to be able to communicate your findings with your peers, so it may be a good idea to speak the same language.

But in the end, if you want to compete on a professional level, sure the more you know the better! BUT all the knowledge in the world isn't going to save you from a lack of talent. Music cannot be composed merely on a theoretical basis, but you can try if you want to (I'd love to hear the result)

cheers.

i agree and disagree.both  If you have no talent for it all the musical knowledge in the world won't help, Like anything in life.. Football players that have talent , go pro get training and more training and more training. taking sports into a science of sorts with everything considered , like nutrition, movement, strategy ect.

music theory for a talented musician/composer/writer,ect.  is kind of like doing the same thing. The study of applied theory is not just to learn the facts (knowledge part, scales, modes, key signatures,harmony,melody,theme structures ect.) but also how they are applied to all styles of music ie. Jazz, classical, rock, pop country, metal, ska, punk, whatever.. by studying music theory as it is used and why , you develop the ability to understand what instruments work well for certain things..

  now for just you own creative needs no it is not needed, but if you get hired by an ad firm or producer to put a certain sound on a show or ad for them .  knowing how by having already studied this would be a big help.

ie someone asks you to compose a dramatic classical piece for a documentary film. say along the lines of  Wagner . If you have had theory, and studied applied theory in this case you would already have an understanding of what they would want and how to go about it.  instruments used and what modes to work in (like the heavy use of the tri-tone).

you can quote me on this one  ..my thoughts on theory ......................

 Theory should be used as a tool to help , not as a bible that has to be adhered to.
#10July 26th, 2012 · 07:58 AM
If you're a good musician, learning music theory can help you compose more efficiently, but if you're around music long enough, have a good ear and understand why certain things "work," then you'll have the same ability. In general though, I think you need to be naturally good with music before learning theory can help.
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