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How to dive into theory #2824601 03/09/19 11:01 AM
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brombeer18 Offline OP
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Hi,

I have been playing the piano for a while now. I have been playing since i was a kid but with various breaks. Im currently taking lessons and i am in alfreds basic piano lv6. I think im technically pretty decent, but i never really taken the time to study theory. When i started taking lessons again i jumped right into alfreds basic piano 5 with barely any understanding about theory. I know very little about theory and sometimes the most basic things are being asked by my teacher but i just dont know them because i never learned it. I want to really start understanding and learning theory so practising pieces will be a lot easier and less frustrating. The problem is i dont know where to start. Does someone have some tips on where to start or maybe some links to other post/videos about this subject?

Thank you in advance,

Greetings Tim

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Re: How to dive into theory [Re: brombeer18] #2824608 03/09/19 11:25 AM
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dobro Offline
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Welcome to the forum brombeer18, im only in level 2 but i have the Snell theory book and the musictheory guy on the web is good but its alot of British terms so it can be a little confusing. Maybe just try and spend some time each day reading and in my case rereading, a little on theory each day. There are people here that are well more advanced than me with solid answers im sure. Again, welcome and we look forward to your input.


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Re: How to dive into theory [Re: brombeer18] #2824819 03/10/19 03:59 AM
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Sidokar Offline
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Originally Posted by brombeer18
Hi,

I want to really start understanding and learning theory so practising pieces will be a lot easier and less frustrating. The problem is i dont know where to start. Does someone have some tips on where to start or maybe some links to other post/videos about this subject?

Thank you in advance,

Greetings Tim


Hi, do you already have some books or anything on this topic ? Since you are at level 6, you must have some basics. What does your teacher say on this question ? And when you say music theory, what would be the scope of what you are targeting ? The potential scope is rather large starting from real basics and then going into very some advanced staff. There are also variations if you are aiming at classical or pop/jazz.

Re: How to dive into theory [Re: brombeer18] #2825294 03/11/19 08:04 AM
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I am currently at RCM 5 and have found no need for theory. I don't know what it is supposed to do. It is irrelevant to me that a chord is called a minor 5th when the notes are written on a page for me to read, anyway. There are some pieces with chords written like G7. Meaningless to me. I play what is written. The same chord is played by the note pattern and not the name.

I can only think that it is important for either improvising or writing your own music. Neither of which I plan to do.

I pick up some here and there, but put no focus on it.


Q
Re: How to dive into theory [Re: brombeer18] #2825327 03/11/19 09:19 AM
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Originally Posted by SilentQ
I am currently at RCM 5 and have found no need for theory. I don't know what it is supposed to do. It is irrelevant to me that a chord is called a minor 5th when the notes are written on a page for me to read, anyway. There are some pieces with chords written like G7. Meaningless to me. I play what is written. The same chord is played by the note pattern and not the name.

I can only think that it is important for either improvising or writing your own music. Neither of which I plan to do.

I pick up some here and there, but put no focus on it.

I’m a little surprised. I thought music theory aids reading quite a bit, if not as much as it aids improvisation, composition, memory, etc. I play beginner pieces, so my theory knowledge is up to date only till that. But learning, for example, what the primary chords are in a key and their inversions, helps me in reading. And I can’t even imagine how it’d go, if I start a piece in a new key signature, without knowing exactly what the sharps/flats are going to be.

Does the importance of theory become superfluous at higher levels w.r.t. reading? However, you did say that you pick some here and there, so may be you already know quite some theory needed at your level.


Think Twice, Play Once
Re: How to dive into theory [Re: brombeer18] #2825328 03/11/19 09:22 AM
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Suni Offline
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I got my basics first from youtube, there are lots of free music lectures, but I started here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gHEIF0rT2w&list=PLB585CE43B02669C3

Then bought Jason Allen's music theory courses on Udemy (wait for the discounts). I bought 3 sets of three, which is a lot more than I need at the moment, but I have it there when I need it. I did the first set of three, and parts of the next sets and found him very clear and organized.

My teacher does not teach me theory either, but has not needed to so far.

Re: How to dive into theory [Re: brombeer18] #2825612 03/11/19 07:35 PM
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Coursera has some theory lessons. Most (if not all) courses are free to access the course material, but most wont let you take all the quizzes or submit work without paying.

At first glance it looks like there’s no free option, but somewhere on the page will be the option to audit the course.

Re: How to dive into theory [Re: SilentQ] #2825695 03/11/19 11:43 PM
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Originally Posted by SilentQ
I am currently at RCM 5 and have found no need for theory. I don't know what it is supposed to do. It is irrelevant to me that a chord is called a minor 5th when the notes are written on a page for me to read, anyway.


There is no minor 5th.

grin

Re: How to dive into theory [Re: brombeer18] #2825760 03/12/19 06:03 AM
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Music is sound and sound is a temporal thing - it lasts only for the duration of the air waves that carry it. In order to capture and reproduce music we need notation and rules, like spelling, grammar and syntax, in order to convey the meanings correctly. Theory is that body of rules and it includes the names of notes, scales, intervals, chords and so on as well as how to write them on the page, how a score differs for different instruments and for groups of instruments.

Like any living language it evolves over time so what we understand when reading a score of, say, Bach, might be different when reading a score by a later composer such as Chopin.

You don't need theory to play the piano but it helps to be able to name things for communicating with other musicians, to group related things together, making them easier to understand and remember, and to understand the conventions of the time a score was written so that it can be realised as intended. It also helps to be able to hear in our heads the sound of written notation that follows from aural training in support of the theory.

If you play from the score you probably know most of the rudiments, the notation, clefs, keys, scales, etc. Your next step might be harmony and then onto forms, stylistic analysis, orchestration and composition. There are web sites - none of which I've used but others may have more practical experience of - and there are books that I find better for organising and structuring things in order to make progress easier.


Richard
Re: How to dive into theory [Re: johnstaf] #2826062 03/12/19 07:23 PM
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Originally Posted by johnstaf
Originally Posted by SilentQ
I am currently at RCM 5 and have found no need for theory. I don't know what it is supposed to do. It is irrelevant to me that a chord is called a minor 5th when the notes are written on a page for me to read, anyway.


There is no minor 5th.

grin


.... Just like there's no major 4th. But there is the infamous tritone.... Which I'd use in place of either of them..... ;-)


-- J.S.

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Re: How to dive into theory [Re: brombeer18] #2831307 03/25/19 03:36 PM
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I hope to improve on my music theory.
But first, I need to learn to sight read.

Re: How to dive into theory [Re: brombeer18] #2831345 03/25/19 05:04 PM
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This is my favorite music theory source. It can now be purchased in Kindle form for about $10, as well (but it is divided into books number 1 and 2 when purchased for Kindle, so it really costs 20 bucks that way). A great book, written with humor, and in small, easily internalized segments. Well worth the money, IMHO:

Edley's Music Theory for Practical People


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Re: How to dive into theory [Re: SilentQ] #2831471 03/26/19 03:38 AM
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Cheshire Chris Offline
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Originally Posted by SilentQ
I am currently at RCM 5 and have found no need for theory. I don't know what it is supposed to do. It is irrelevant to me that a chord is called a minor 5th when the notes are written on a page for me to read, anyway. There are some pieces with chords written like G7. Meaningless to me. I play what is written. The same chord is played by the note pattern and not the name.

I can only think that it is important for either improvising or writing your own music. Neither of which I plan to do.

I pick up some here and there, but put no focus on it.


To use your example, if you have no understanding of basic music theory, you'll forever be reliant on "chord books" and the like to tell you what notes to play if you see something like "G7" written. Understand the theory and you'll know what notes to play without needing to rely on such books!


Chris

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Re: How to dive into theory [Re: Cheshire Chris] #2831629 03/26/19 01:27 PM
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bennevis Offline
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Originally Posted by Cheshire Chris


To use your example, if you have no understanding of basic music theory, you'll forever be reliant on "chord books" and the like to tell you what notes to play if you see something like "G7" written. Understand the theory and you'll know what notes to play without needing to rely on such books!

if you're only playing classical, it's true what SilentQ said - you play exactly the notes you see on the pages, no more and no less, and you don't need to know what notes make up G7 etc. Classical music doesn't have chord indications below the notes, and in fact you'll end up with convoluted nomenclature when you try to name some of the harmonies composers use, especially when you get into bitonality and atonality, or even just free chromaticism.

The converse is also true - there are pianists who play totally by ear, like my jazzer friend, who wouldn't even know what G7 is, let alone G. But play him a pop tune and he'll play a plausible imitation of it, complete with the chords. And then, there're pianists who rely completely on lead sheets and can't actually read music on two staves, so all they can play are the chords they see. Most guitar players who only play to accompany pop songs fall in the latter category.


"I don't play accurately - anyone can play accurately - but I play with wonderful expression. As far as the piano is concerned, sentiment is my forte. I keep science for Life."

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