Why You Should Learn Guitar Music Theory

Ughhhhhh…….Theory……

It sounds like rocket science to most guitar players, and about as hard to apply too.

However while many players are obsessed with using nothing but their ear, others are getting clued into the secrets of this knowledge.

 

You see, everyone uses chords and guitar scales already.

The pentatonic scale is everywhere in the guitar magazines and the tabs of the greats.

Major, minor, 7th chords, and several others appear even in the simplest of songs.

This is the product of “theory,” yet these concepts are accepted as fact and essential to learning the instrument.

 

But here’s another big point (hence another paragraph spacing)…….

You’re not using all the tools to your advantage.

There are more possibilities of combining chords and scales together into music than you’ve ever imagined, and part of the reason is that many players don’t see anything beyond these two concepts….

Time signatures, new musical keys, intervals, suspensions, appogiaturas, and the whole art of musical harmony are vastly unexplored at least in rock, blues, and country music!

It’s like we’re choosing to use only 7 letters of the alphabet to speak an entire language!

 

So how do you get started in guitar music theory???

You can click that link if you like, but as a beginner (and probably a girl), I’ll give you some personal advice……

 

1) Learn what intervals are, and how they make chords and scales

This is a criminally ignored aspect of music theory that explains how the whole system works.

If you’ve ever tried using a modal scale, or a maj7 chord and failed……

This will help you understand why.

A mixolydian mode is different from a major scale because of the intervals that make up the notes.

A maj7 chord is different too for the very same reason.

Go ahead and google “intervals on guitar” if you want to look more into that.

 

2) Start breaking down the notes of each chord you’re playing over, and compare it to some scales you’re thinking of using with it.

I’m assuming that you’re interested in soloing over chords, but this will help if you’re a budding songwriter looking for instruction in theory too.

Many players have no idea what they’re doing, and their music shows.

The chords don’t change into each other smoothly, or interestingly enough, and the parts just don’t match well. But I’m speaking generally without examples.

 

That’s enough about using music theory for guitar.

If you can start doing those two things I just told you, you’ll have a better understanding of the fretboard for lead guitar, songwriting, or just learning more music to play.

Thanks for reading!

A Guitar Lesson I Gave To My Client’s Daughter

The repertoire of guitar playing is unfortunately much more geared towards guys than girls, but I wanted to write about what I taught a little girl who wanted to get started playing guitar.

First off, I do my best not to judge a student’s music taste or steer them away from what they really love to listen to. That’s probably the best way to get someone to stop playing guitar, and it would be great if more girls played.

So what I did was I just asked her, “what music do you love to listen to?”

It could be beyonce, lady gaga, selena gomez, fleetwood mac, or janis joplin.

As an instructor, I want to make whatever she wants to play very accessible, and if that means playing iggy azalea synth riffs for her on guitar, I’ll do it.

After all, this is for a friend of mine that I do business with, who’s a great insurance agent if you’re interested in seeing his website.

 

But what should she learn in particular?

Songs! The more and more songs that any guitarist learns, boy or girl, the more practice they’ll get for various techniques.

But that means varying your practice with strummed chord progressions, single note riffs, fingerpicking, and lead guitar licks.

Each different type of song part will build skills to make her a well-rounded guitarist.

 

The other thing I told her was to have realistic expectations.

Focus on getting one song you really love at least recognizable when you play it.

That’ll build motivation and enthusiasm, and it’ll make you see everything you can do with the guitar.

Some songs don’t require too much skill, but others will require lots of practice and music knowledge.

After a few months, a player should be proficient at reading tabs, will have learned around 30 to 50 riffs/parts, and have much of the foundational skills down.

Thanks a lot to my friend who gives me all the great auto insurance!

The One Scale Most Guitarists Use

Guitar_scales_chart_by_harrycantdraw

Most guitarists, even those who aren’t into Hilary Duff, are using guitar scales the completely wrong way! And that’s because they’re making it too complex….

No they don’t use any fancy minor scales like harmonic minor.

And they don’t use a single mode no matter what they tell you…..

The scale they use is utterly predictable and deathly overused to the point where almost any use of it is going to turn into a cliche…..

Yep.

It’s the minor pentatonic scale.

 

I mean the scale is perfect for almost everything in rock music as its roots are in the blues, and it plays nearly every note in a typical I-IV-V progression……

But, there’s more to this scale than meets the eyes.

This scale can be transformed and applied nearly everywhere with the right know how.

That’s because of concepts like the relative minor, parallel major, and the fact that its a repeatable pattern that comes up nearly everywhere.

 

Also it’s only five fricking notes!

If you add two notes, you’re likely to hit a mode or a minor scale.

Everyone uses this scale too.

Clapton, SRV, Hendrix, Slash, and even Steve Vai too.

 

The fact is that using this scale is a nearly inescapable fact of guitar.

And it’s because……

You’re playing a repeatable pattern of notes every single you use this scale.

It doesn’t matter what scale you use so much as how you put the notes together with the bass and drum parts.

If you’re not more concerned about that, you’re in big trouble.

 

Many melodies and riffs get their distinction not by what scales are played, but by how the notes are put together to express rhythms and harmonies.

Plus, you’re probably just playing straight through the scale without a thought about how to break it up.

 

So what should you do?

Well, go read this article and check out the many different ways you can use scales.

Of course you can repeat them, bend them, and legato them to death.

But why not combine scale patterns together? Or skip across pitches?

Hell why not just try to make a melody instead of seeing how fast you can play the scale?

So here’s another reason you may be confused by this……

Everyone has told you that scales are these magical keys to making a certain sound, and in the process they’ve ignored the effects that rhythm and harmony have on music.

Rhythm, Harmony, and Melody are the applied forms of guitar scales.

They’re the bits and pieces of scales used to make those annoying pop songs (All About That Bass) stick in your head. (It’s in your head now, admit it!)

Sorry…..

 

Scales are just potential notes for a melody or riff or solo.

That’s it.

And most likely you’re going to go through a chord progression or riff that may or may not fit perfectly within the major or minor scales.

That’s alright. That’s not what they’re really there for.

They’re often just starting points. And if you use nothing but that for your songwriting, you’re going to get a bunch of bland, repetitive noise probably.

Still confused, alright check out this great lead guitar article for more info then.