By Vishaal Kapoor
For many guitar players, music theory is almost like a bad word. For others, they love it and understand its usefulness in being a more creative guitar player. For those of you who are dead set against it, or are not sure whether learning music theory will benefit you, I will discuss some points that will show you exactly how you will become a much better guitar player when you have some knowledge of music theory.
Here are the 7 ways that Music Theory will make you a much better guitarist:
- It will help you learn everything you want to learn on guitar much faster!
No matter what your intentions and aspirations are on guitar, whether you want to learn your favourite songs, improvise lead guitar solos, write your own songs, become a session guitarist – it is a fact that understanding some level of music theory will help you to learn it faster.
At the very most basic level, if you know what the notes are on the 6th and 5th strings of the guitar, it will be infinitely easier to learn songs that involve power chords or barre chords typically played on those strings.
At a more advanced level, if you knew how to play a minor pentatonic scale and understood how to use it, learning blues, rock, and metal guitar solos will prove to be so much easier!
These are just a couple of examples, but hopefully you can see how music theory will be beneficial to you in this area.
- It will help you play by ear
There is more to developing your hearing skills and playing ability than just being able to play a simple melody note for note. It goes beyond being able to hear the difference between major and minor chords or scales. Imagine being able to instantly identify a chord progression just by listening. Imagine being able to portray a certain type of sound that you want to in a song or solo. Wouldn’t that be cool?
Here’s an example to make this point a little clearer. Imagine if you could identify (just by ear), a certain movement of chords (like a I IV V chord progression) in a song you like. Then, you identify a similar movement in another song, and another. If you could determine what those chords are – you’ve just learned 3 songs by ear!
- It will help you learn how music works
Learning music theory will help you to learn how notes and scales and arpeggios and keys all relate to each other. Even if you wanted to just learn your favourite guitar players solos, learning and understanding something simple like the Minor Pentatonic scale and how to apply it will enable you to learn thousands of guitar solos. Of course, this is just an example and there are many more areas where this applies that go out of the scope of this article. However, if you do understand how music works, it leads me to my next point…
- It will make you a more creative musician and guitar player
Most people think that learning music theory limits creativity. In reality, that is the furthest thing from the truth. That would be like saying that learning a language in a structured way will limit your ability to communicate. Think about it – learning music is like learning a language of sorts.
If you were learning a new language, you would learn about vocabulary, sentence structure, tenses, typical phrases used in the culture in which the language is spoken, learning the accent and pronunciation, stories, jokes and humour. Would all those things make you more able or less able to communicate?
Knowing and understanding music theory will open a world of possibilities for your guitar playing.
- It will help you understand what your favourite musicians are talking about in their live shows, clinics and other videos
I remember a time where I knew little about music theory. I used to watch some of my favourite guitar players like Yngwie Malmsteen, Joe Satriani and John Petrucci talk about things like ‘Phrygian Dominant’ or ‘Lydian mode’ or ‘Pitch Axis Theory’, and used to watch blankly, not understanding a word they said. However, it made me really excited to want to learn what they were talking about. After all, if they were talking about that stuff, that’s probably how they got those cool, unique sounds and melodies in their music. I wanted to do that too – I wanted in on their ‘secrets’!
- It makes learning music MORE interesting!
Many guitar players (especially self-taught guitar players) shy away from Music Theory, and avoid it like it’s the plague! One word is usually associated with Music Theory – BORING! If that’s you, I totally understand. I too, was once at that stage. But now I know that its so useful, interesting and enables me to understand how and why things sound good so I can sound good too.
Sure, if you tried to learn music theory in a sterile boring environment taught by a stereotypical stuffy professor speaking in a monotonous voice – yeah its boring as hell. But when it is taught in a fun, creative and practical way, it opens up a world of possibilities for you.
- It helps you to apply your skills.
Imagine being able to sweep pick arpeggios up and down at 1 zillion notes per second, or being able blaze through a scale sequence at lightning pace! You impress your friends… maybe for a few minutes. But, if you don’t know how to truly apply those skills in a creative and musical way, like when you are improvising or writing a song or playing a solo – those skills are pretty much useless.
Studying some music theory will help you to use all the techniques, tools and skills that you have worked so hard to develop.
Need help with learning music theory? Do you want to learn music theory in a way that you can instantly see results in your guitar playing? Contact Vishaal Kapoor if you want to take guitar lessons in Kuala Lumpur and Petaling Jaya areas. Get in touch with Vishaal Kapoor at www.GuitarKL.com