When it comes to music theory, most guitar players are immediately adverse to it. To be honest, I’ve used to hate studying it. When I first started playing the guitar, the sight of music notes and staves would instantly turned me off.
What I wanted to do was to learn songs and do covers. Basically, I started learning the guitar by visually observing how other guitarists play. I was “forced” to learn music theory only at a latter stage after I started taking proper classes.
Admittedly, learning music theory wasn’t easy at first. However, I soon discovered that a working knowledge of music theory was really useful when playing in a band. This is because music theory could help you determine the appropriate notes/chords to play in any given key.
Randall Williams gives a quick and no-fuss explanation of basic music theory in this video.
Without music theory, you will never become a complete guitarist and achieve a level of mastery. Here’s an analogy to explain why it is so important. Imagine yourself as an artist who paints for a living. If you don’t know what colors to mix to attain another color, you would end up doing trial and error testing blindly.
Likewise, when you try to improvise without a good foundation of music theory, you will end up playing notes blindly and will have immense difficulties in following the background music.
For people playing in bands, transposing a song into different keys is a common practice. With a good grasp in music theory, song transposition could take place almost instantly and save you precious time for practicing in the studio.
This is also a very important skill to have if you are playing in a live band who is covering for different vocalists. Should the need arise for an impromptu key change (e.g. when there is a song dedication from the audience), you would not be left scratching your head and not knowing what to do.
Music theory is also useful when you are trying to compose music. You would be much more adept at fitting a harmony over a melody or vice-versa because you have the knowledge of what works and what doesn’t.
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