"Musicians, Not Theorists" gives you the information you need about the practical uses for music theory. With today's range of musical styles, the possibilities are endless. I'll show you the ways of chord building and scale finding. Learn the rules and why it's ok to break them. Explore new musical phrases to boost your creativity
Thanks for signing up for "Musicians, Not Theorists" and welcome to the first issue. This month's issue includes:
-Website Update: New Layout
-Beginner Scale Quiz
News: Website Layout Update
I have changed things around a little bit on the website. The "Basic/Intermediate/Advanced" format that I had implemented seemed limiting. Sometimes it's hard for a musician to label themselves as beginner or advanced.
That's why I've decided to go with a more referential approach. When I go to a music theory website, I like to be able to look in specific areas for specific things rather than have someone tell me what I should be learning about.
That being said, I realize that some of you would like some direction and a more guided path. I'm still working a way to incorporate this. If you have any suggestions or requests, please reply to the email. I'm always looking for new ideas.
Ah, the wonderful world of modes. Most musicians are not familiar with this world because they have not encountered it, or they feel intimidated by it.
A mode is simply a scale in a different place. Let's take a C scale.
C D E F G A B C.
Now let's play that C scale starting on the G.
G A B C D E F G.
This is a G Mixolydian mode. Why is this useful? Let's look at a regular G major scale (G Ionian Mode).
G A B C D E F# G.
Notice that the G major scale has an F#. If you're playing a song in the key of C and you're improvising or writing a melody, the F# is going to sound strange in the key of C because the C scale does not naturally contain an F#. (It may not sound "bad", it just may not sound like it belongs. Sometimes you WANT a note to stand out.) So let's say the next chord in the song is a G chord. When you're improvising or writing a melody over the G chord, you'll use the G scale, which contains the F#.
Now instead of using the regular G major scale, let's use the G Mixolydian mode. Notice the F# is gone now. The G scale (mode) we are using now fits in the key of C in a much different way. It may sound better or worse depending on what you're playing around it.
Using modes like this gives you many more options that just using major scales. The mixolydian mode only changes one note, so it is an easy one to start messing around with. The phrygian and locrian modes can completely change the sound of the entire song. Start playing with these and see how you can learn from them.
For more information on Modes, check out a couple of the articles on the website:
Beginner Scale Quiz:
Read the article on major scales, the complete the following exercise.
Using the major scale pattern, (Whole, Whole, Half, Whole, Whole, Whole, Half), find the missing scale tones.
1. C D E _ G _ B C
2. A B C# D _ F# G# A
3. F _ A Bb C _ E F
4. D _ F# _ A B _ D
5. Eb F G _ Bb C D Eb
Hint: Scales will use either sharp OR flat, not both.
If you'd like the answers, or if you'd like me to check yours, simply reply to this email and let me know.
- Warming Up: It's always a good idea to start your practice sessions by running over some scales, arpeggios, and other exercises. While this seems boring and useless, the linear progression of these gets your fingers used to moving in certain patterns that will make everything else you play seem easier.
- Timeboxing: This is a technique that can help with the more boring or tedious elements, and can make the hard stuff easier to tackle. Set aside a set amount of time to work on a particular thing, then quit. "I'm going to work on scales for 10 minutes, then quit." It doesn't matter how far you get. You don't have to get a certain amount done, just do it for 10 minutes. (And you don't have to quit when 10 minutes is up; the time limit just makes it easier to get started.)
-Mental Quizzes: Think about scales or arpeggios or modes etc. when you are doing everyday activities such as standing in line at the bank, doing dishes, or driving to work. Pick a time when your mind is not doing anything else, and use it to work on your theory knowledge! Quizzing yourself can be fun and challenging.