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Thomas
07-27-2008, 11:13 AM
Have you ever noticed that some people, once they learn very basic/rudimentary music theory, they become complete pricks about everything they listen to? Take, for example, one of my good friends. We are both drummers (even though it's a widely accepted fact that his talent level is a mere fraction of what he thinks it is) and as such, we are absolutely horrible at keyboard instruments, thus the term "drummer" and not "percussionist". We used to both listen to music together and just enjoy it. Well, lately, he started learning some simple chords and stuff on the keyboard and all of a sudden he's a complete musical expert about everything he listens to.

Take, for example, when I first played him Hammerhead when it was first released. We were both HUGE Offspring fans and we were known to listen to their entire discography rocking out in our headphones for entire bus rides. Considering Hammerhead was one of the best tracks they had released to date, I thought for sure he'd like it. I play it for him and the whole time he's acting like a record producer trying to tell The Offspring what they should have done. He's saying stuff like "he shouldn't have sung that accidental there" or "that would sound better with a minor 3rd in the harmonies" and stuff like that.

basically, he pissed me off because he couldn't just listen to the song for what it was a really enjoy it. He's quite convinced that everything he thinks about music is absolute and if someone disagrees with him or doesn't write in the way he thinks it should go, then it's wrong. This has only been a recent thing, too.

Does anyone else know "musicians" that act like this or did I just happen to find the biggest prick in the world as a friend? I just can't stand when people have to criticize EVERYTHING about music or other forms of art, especially when it works extremely well as it is. If a song is good, who cares if it could have been done better? I enjoy listening to it and that's what the music was intended to accomplish in the first place, therefore it was executed correctly.

[/angry rant]

mrconeman
07-27-2008, 11:29 AM
The only thing to do with these people is to put them into a conversation with someone who actually has a clue, with a musical education, highly entertaining. And, yes, unfortunately music is a field plagued with morons, both players and fans that is. In my experience the best musicians are shy people who never run their mouth about how very good they actually are.

bighead384
07-27-2008, 11:33 AM
When it comes to rock music, who really gives a fuck about music theory? Most of the time, music theory won't help you write or analyze most rock music any better then someone who doesn't know it.

Enjoi
07-27-2008, 11:35 AM
When it comes to rock music, who really gives a fuck about music theory? Most of the time, music theory won't help you write or analyze most rock music any better then someone who doesn't know it.

I agree completely.

bighead384
07-27-2008, 11:39 AM
This kid who knows the most about music theory out of anybody I know says he feels like a tool for learning the large majority of it. But I do know a lot of annoying music theory experts.

Thomas
07-27-2008, 11:53 AM
Personally, I think learning music theory can realy help with the writing process of rock music, but you just look like a complete ass-hat when you try to use it against other bands.

mrconeman
07-27-2008, 12:05 PM
When it comes to rock music, who really gives a fuck about music theory? Most of the time, music theory won't help you write or analyze most rock music any better then someone who doesn't know it.

You actually couldn't be any more wrong. The idea that knowing music theory won't help you in literally every music genre is like saying learning to multiply won't help you at math.

In saying that, theory is by no means compulsory to being a decent rock musician. But it unquestionably helps.

drummerbecca
07-27-2008, 01:11 PM
I have to agree with pretty much everything said here. Music theory does help immensely when it comes to playing any instrument, but it's not necessarily the key to being good at what you do.
Unfortunately, it's not just a case of having the biggest prick in the world as a friend, it's a common thing with musicians. I hope to God I'm not like that, or ever get like that. I can only imagine it takes the sheer enjoyment out of music. Like these people can't just rock the fuck out anymore. They have to sit and tear strips off whoever for whatever lame reason they can come up with to try and make themselves sound like they know what they're talking about (and breathe).
Ultimately, it's their loss. And I'll try and explain why I really mean that...
I listened to a radio documentary about a guy who learned to play the piano as a kid. He never had lessons, so he thought that learning the piano meant learning each note by ear. He finally got to the stage where he was confident enough that he could do this, so he got his mother to test him on it. And he was right. He stood at the opposite side of the room, unable to see the piano keys, and guessed every note that his mother played correctly. She even played 3 or 4 random notes all at the same time and he could pick out each one with no problem. Effectively, he became absolutely pitch perfect. Pretty cool, right? Um, no actually. This guy is now an adult, and goes through every day of his life being unable to enjoy music because everything is out of tune to him.
I know all that might seem a bit irrelevent, but the point behind me telling you all that, is that this poor guy has no way of getting out of the situation he is now in. He cannot enjoy music. Period. These lame people who feel the need to be anal about everything are only ruining music for themselves by being that way, but they have a choice not to. This guy doesn't. It sounds a bit melodramatic but I couldn't possibly imagine how horrible it would be to no longer be able to listen to my favourite songs or bands. Music has made me who I am today, without a doubt, and I'm sure there are many people who feel the same way. The bottom line is that as a musician, you're in the minority if you aren't completely up yourself. But let those idiots ruin for themselves if they want to, but if you're a true music fan then what they say shouldn't ever effect how you feel about it.

[/war and peace]

Ahem, sorry about that...

Little_Miss_1565
07-27-2008, 01:12 PM
You actually couldn't be any more wrong. The idea that knowing music theory won't help you in literally every music genre is like saying learning to multiply won't help you at math.

In saying that, theory is by no means compulsory to being a decent rock musician. But it unquestionably helps.

I agree. Even if you don't want to learn music theory, you're still using the basic principles when you write a rock song. Even Green Day's basic G-A-D chord structure follows the basics of composition.

As someone who's been in a few bands, one moderately successful, knowing the basics is an enormous help when it comes to writing rock music and teaching the songs to others, writing harmonies, etc.

Regarding Thomas' friend, music theory is no different from any other knowledge in that when one person knows something that many of the people around him don't, there's some kind of human desire to lord that over others. I agree that being too wrapped up in music theory prevents you from really enjoying a song for what it is and not microanalyzing its parts, but the problem here is less with music theory and more with your friend wanting to be kind of a douche. Y'know?

WebDudette
07-27-2008, 01:13 PM
I have a friend who feels I should enjoy bands because they are talented.

Thomas
07-27-2008, 01:26 PM
the problem here is less with music theory and more with your friend wanting to be kind of a douche. Y'know?

Actually, he is a VERY big douche. I could go on and on about what he has done to my school's drumline with his attitudes, but I'll spare you all that one. I'm just glad I graduated just as things were starting to get chaotic.


For me, when I listen to music, I really do appreciate talent (I'm a huge Rush fan, for instance) but there are some bands that I really enjoy that have next to no special talent whatsoever (nirvana, blink-182, etc.). The way i see it, if the song is well written, or even just well-executed, then I'll listen to it. It doesn't have to be full of Augmented 7ths, 9/8 bars, poly-rhythms, and quarter-tones for me to enjoy it. I'm actually seriously considering a major in music, so having a familiarity with music theory is going to be a must with me, but I'm not gonna let that ruin my experience. I like Ron Welty just as much, if not more, as people like Jojo Mayer, Max Roach, Buddy Rich, and Dave Weckl. Comparitively speaking, Welty's playing is mere child's play, but I can still appreciate what he does for what he does.

Little_Miss_1565
07-27-2008, 01:34 PM
Welty's playing is mere child's play, but I can still appreciate what he does for what he does.

I agree totally. Don't let this one guy's arrogance put you off something fun like music theory.

Rag Doll
07-27-2008, 02:35 PM
the problem here is less with music theory and more with your friend wanting to be kind of a douche. Y'know?

Agreed. And I totally have someone in mind that does the EXACT same thing.

Ryder1234
07-27-2008, 05:14 PM
Not many of the musicians I know / have played with have this problem. Sometimes one of us will be like "Try playing it like this instead", but most of the time it sounds better. It seems like your friend has no idea what he's talking about.

Llamas
07-27-2008, 07:35 PM
Wow, Thomas, that guy sounds like a total douche. For me, it just so happens that most of my friends and I have understood a great deal of theory since we were like 12. So in the occasion that I have met someone like that, they shut up VERY quickly after about 2 minutes of talking with my friends and I... once they realize they're not amazing geniuses for knowing the difference between a diminished and an augmented chord. I'd love to put someone like that guy in his place.. haha.


When it comes to rock music, who really gives a fuck about music theory? Most of the time, music theory won't help you write or analyze most rock music any better then someone who doesn't know it.
As several people have already said, this is far from the truth. Nobody NEEDS to understand music theory in order to write music, but in any situation, it definitely is going to help. Most musicians who've written music before and after learning theory will admit they got better after learning it. However, it's certainly not necessary.

Thomas
07-27-2008, 07:44 PM
Yeah, we both went to audition for the Academy Drum and Bugle Corps in december. Both of us got our asses handed to us, but somehow he got the idea that somehow he did better than me (which he didn't) and then he went on this huge self-righteous charade that hasn't ended yet. I can't wait until next year when we go to audition again and me (having marched with the University of Arizona drumline, which is basically The Academy's little brother) and I clobber him. Nothing will make me feel better.

But seriously, meeting people like that and silently beating the pants off of them is one of the best feelings in the world. Won't you agree?

WebDudette
07-27-2008, 07:46 PM
I won't lie Thomas, I regularly get the 'greater than thou' vibe from you. I understand that isn't exactly what your are saying about your friend, but its a big part of it.

Thomas
07-27-2008, 07:50 PM
Oh, I know I give off that vibe every once in a while. I've definitely been called out on it, too. It usually isn't my intention, though.

With this guy, though, it's gotten to the point where it just pisses me off when he says he's better than me (which he does quite often) and although I usually try to be modest about my "talent" (I'm still not nearly as good as i need to be at this point in time), I know that I am, in fact, better than him. yeah, there's a big history behind this whole thing, and my "boasting" (for the lack of a better word) may be a bit uncalled for, but not entirely.

0r4ng3
07-27-2008, 07:53 PM
My advice is to just keep insisting that his favorite band is photoshopped.

WebDudette
07-27-2008, 07:53 PM
Fair enough, I have a friend who always wants to tell me how talented (or talentless) the bands he and I listen to are. He always wants to break stuff down and explain it too me, when I don't truly care at all.

The best part is I know he doesn't know what hes talking about (I almost wish I knew theory just to call him out). For one, I've seen people call him out on it, and for two he does it with all sorts of subject. Some that I actually do know stuff about.

Thomas
07-27-2008, 08:04 PM
My advice is to just keep insisting that his favorite band is photoshopped.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to tell what his favorite band is nowadays. Probably his own band (who is full of ridiculously talented people except him, and everyone knows it).


Fair enough, I have a friend who always wants to tell me how talented (or talentless) the bands he and I listen to are. He always wants to break stuff down and explain it too me, when I don't truly care at all.

The best part is I know he doesn't know what hes talking about (I almost wish I knew theory just to call him out). For one, I've seen people call him out on it, and for two he does it with all sorts of subject. Some that I actually do know stuff about.

Yeah, sounds like my guy alright. Sometimes he doesn't even listen to the bands before he judges them. For instance, there's a local high school band here in Tucson that, to say the least, is ridiculously talented. The singer is incredibly powerful and the drummer can pull off stuff most professional percussionists can't do. There name is Idella and they are a sort of fusion/indie/progressive band. I tell him to check them out and without hesitation he says "Man, fuck those metal bands. I hate them." The name sounded metal and he automatically threw them out. To this day, he hasn't taken the time to listen to them.

Here they are, btw. For a bunch of high school juniors, this is pretty damn good. http://www.myspace.com/idellamusic They put on amazing live shows, too.

Oxygene
07-28-2008, 01:03 AM
The guy is compensating for a small dick...

Music theory has dick to do with how good a rock song is. I don't know much music theory, but I do know that from a theoretical perspective rock (and ESPECIALLY punk) are dick simple.

Kind like 1+1 in math.

Being selfimportant and elitist usually means a small pecker, no more no less.

Thomas
07-28-2008, 01:10 AM
You didn't understand a word of what everyone said, did you?

We said that it is not neccessary to be proficient in music theory to write a good rock song, but it certainly helps in ways you can't even imagine.

bighead384
07-28-2008, 01:29 AM
As several people have already said, this is far from the truth. Nobody NEEDS to understand music theory in order to write music, but in any situation, it definitely is going to help. Most musicians who've written music before and after learning theory will admit they got better after learning it. However, it's certainly not necessary.

Yeah, once in a blue moon it might do you some good, I know that. But for the most part, you don't use any music theory beyond the bare basics in rock music. I mean, if you're going to solo, you need to know scales, but nothing really beyond that does you any good.

bighead384
07-28-2008, 01:37 AM
Here they are, btw. For a bunch of high school juniors, this is pretty damn good. http://www.myspace.com/idellamusic They put on amazing live shows, too.

I recommend this.

Thomas
07-28-2008, 01:40 AM
Yeah, once in a blue moon it might do you some good, I know that. But for the most part, you don't use any music theory beyond the bare basics in rock music. I mean, if you're going to solo, you need to know scales, but nothing really beyond that does you any good.

Yeah, I'm going to disagree here. If the band knows music theory pretty well, then you can get some awesome harmonies going without really having to think about it. My last band had 3 singers and they pulled off an amazing 3-part harmony like it was nothing because they knew what they were doing. It also helps if you want to write something funky (synchopation) or something in an odd-meter, which can often groove very well.


take Idella, for example. Clearly, those guys know their music theory, and look how well it worked for them.

IamSam
07-28-2008, 01:42 AM
Yeah, once in a blue moon it might do you some good, I know that. But for the most part, you don't use any music theory beyond the bare basics in rock music. I mean, if you're going to solo, you need to know scales, but nothing really beyond that does you any good.

Have you ever taken band? Choir?

Theory helps you out with rock music more than you think. My buddies metal band went from shite to ok. (Mainly shite to ok because I hate thrash metal). Now he is working on acoustic stuff and the more theory he learns the better he becomes at formulating songs. It helps build harmonies and find different chords and progressions that would have been lost otherwise.

Oxygene
07-28-2008, 01:54 AM
You didn't understand a word of what everyone said, did you?

We said that it is not neccessary to be proficient in music theory to write a good rock song, but it certainly helps in ways you can't even imagine.

Actually I can not only imagine I saw it in practice. All it really does is speed it up, and make writing more efficient, and on the spot. You can work everything out even if you lack every bit of music theory, as long as you have a little hearing and a whole lot of time.

You didn't understand that you don't need to be good in music theory to analyze a rock song, it's pointless.. it's overkill. it's just flashing that he's learned the quint circle or whatever the fuck it's called in english.


holly jumpin fucking shitballs...

Thomas
07-28-2008, 02:09 AM
Actually I can not only imagine I saw it in practice. All it really does is speed it up, and make writing more efficient, and on the spot. You can work everything out even if you lack every bit of music theory, as long as you have a little hearing and a whole lot of time.

You didn't understand that you don't need to be good in music theory to analyze a rock song, it's pointless.. it's overkill. it's just flashing that he's learned the quint circle or whatever the fuck it's called in english.


holly jumpin fucking shitballs...

it doesn't just make writing faster. It makes writing better. Again, you don't NEED a solid understanding of music theory to be in a rock band, but it will make the band better and more musical about everything. It opens new doors that are not possible with simply chords and scales.

Oxygene
07-28-2008, 02:20 AM
it doesn't just make writing faster. It makes writing better. Again, you don't NEED a solid understanding of music theory to be in a rock band, but it will make the band better and more musical about everything. It opens new doors that are not possible with simply chords and scales.

It is phisically possible to arrive at every conceviable way of playing a song simply by choice. You are write that mostly you wouldn't have patience to do so tho.

I think better is a subjective term, I think that if the ramones would've known music theory their music easily could've been worse not been better.

Did you ever write and record like a proper album?

Thomas
07-28-2008, 09:25 AM
It is phisically possible to arrive at every conceviable way of playing a song simply by choice. You are write that mostly you wouldn't have patience to do so tho.

I think better is a subjective term, I think that if the ramones would've known music theory their music easily could've been worse not been better.

Did you ever write and record like a proper album?

I've never made an official album (we broke up before we decided to do that) but I've written more than enough songs to make several albums.

And of course better is a subjective term. What I meant was that knowing music theory allows for so much more than if you didn't know it. It opens so many doors and it lets musicians express what they have to express in more ways than just chords and 4/4 measures. I can guarantee you, though, that if the Ramones had a very solid knowledge of music theory, they would be VERY different from the band we know, granted, their simplicity made them great (again, we never said that music theory is a must in order to be a good band).

Little_Miss_1565
07-28-2008, 11:24 AM
It is phisically possible to arrive at every conceviable way of playing a song simply by choice. You are write that mostly you wouldn't have patience to do so tho.

I agree. You don't need to know theory to figure out eventually what sounds good together, but it goes a lot quicker and with a lot less frustration if you do know it.


I think better is a subjective term, I think that if the ramones would've known music theory their music easily could've been worse not been better.

Whether or not they knew music theory I have no idea, but I do know that Joey took voice lessons from an opera singer. So even though they were straight up three chords or less punk rock, there was a craft to what they were doing.


Did you ever write and record like a proper album?

I have!

Oxygene
07-28-2008, 12:18 PM
Looks like we've all arrived at the same place... horray! =)