Author Topic: Is it necessary to learn music theory to make music?  (Read 3196 times)

  • joe chan
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Is it necessary to learn music theory to make music?
« on: September 12, 2013, 07:16:11 PM »
I believe it is not necessary. Anyone can create music. However, if you want to make great music, I believe it is necessary to learn some theory. It will help you understand what you are doing and you might find it fun!

What do you guys think?

  • tribie
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Re: Is it necessary to learn music theory to make music?
« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2013, 12:44:25 PM »
People who have the talent and ear for music do not need to learn about music theory. Most composers just play around with different sounds and instruments. Some just listen to a song and are able to replicate it or do variations of it with different genres. Without talent, even if they learn about music theory they wouldn't get anywhere. Anybody can make music though it is those with real talent that would always stand out.

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Re: Is it necessary to learn music theory to make music?
« Reply #2 on: September 13, 2013, 10:50:47 PM »
Music Theory is not necessary, but "making music" is a subjective term, and learning theory would get you a lot closer to what many people's idea of 'making music' is than if you didn't learn any theory at all.
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  • xdhmtx
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Re: Is it necessary to learn music theory to make music?
« Reply #3 on: September 14, 2013, 06:17:41 AM »
It's not necessary but it can help a lot, I've been producing for a bit and the more I learn on music theory the more I understand what makes the music good and what works/doesnt work

  • pxyc
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Re: Is it necessary to learn music theory to make music?
« Reply #4 on: September 14, 2013, 11:07:37 AM »
I agree with the rest of you - It's not necessary for making music, but if you want to understand what makes people like music and what makes them not, I would suggest learning at least the basics.

Re: Is it necessary to learn music theory to make music?
« Reply #5 on: April 02, 2015, 09:00:45 PM »
I used to belive that you didn't need it to be great so I avoided theory, now, while I still belive that, after spending some time learning a bit about the theory of it all, it has helped me immensley. It's almost like being a great musician is like being a great speaker, and a good music theory versed person is a great writer, and to be truly great, it's great to be both.

  • ImariFutari
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Re: Is it necessary to learn music theory to make music?
« Reply #6 on: April 03, 2015, 11:31:04 PM »
Music theory is definitely not necessary, as you can see that a lot of indie artists that're in charge of instrumentals and vocals are doing an amazing job (it's also a waste of college money).

I also think that it hinders creativity. When you have all this technical lingo going through your head while you're trying to create, you'll find yourself abiding by what everyone else has told you to do, rather than what you want to do.

It can be helpful, but (like I said earlier), isn't necessary.

I mean, look at Dave Bayley from the Glass Animals. That guy studied neurosciences and psychology, but ended up doing pretty well in the music industry.

I guess it all depends on the person - so it's very subjective.  ;D

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Re: Is it necessary to learn music theory to make music?
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2015, 08:35:08 PM »
I don't think it's necessary. I was in choir for four years and band for one and I'm not even really clear on what all music theory is. Not to say band and choir made me some expert or anything, but I got through just fine singing and playing without knowing much about music theory. If someone thinks it can help them, it may just be subjective, because I think people can go well enough without it.

  • Thejamal
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Re: Is it necessary to learn music theory to make music?
« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2015, 02:43:43 PM »
It's not 100% necessary, but if you want to stick out in the music industry and find work, knowing some music theory is a way to put you ahead of the game. And to me at least, knowing music theory makes making/studying/playing music WAY more fun because you actually know whats going on. You can experiment with different ideas and know how to play around with different chord progressions, etc. If you're trying to work work in the business, its a time investment that absolutely will pay off.

Even if music is just a hobby, I still think its worth knowing about. Just makes being involved with music more enjoyable.

Re: Is it necessary to learn music theory to make music?
« Reply #9 on: April 10, 2015, 09:42:40 PM »
It seems to depend on how you work. If you’re more intuitive and just like to experiment and feel things out, learning music theory wouldn’t be an absolute necessity. Those who prefer more structure, on the other hand, would probably benefit from learning music theory. The main danger seems to be overthinking it, and as stated before, holding oneself to someone else’s standards. At the core, music is a form of expression. I personally do appreciate technical perfection, but if there’s genuine feeling behind something, that counts for a lot. Music theory can’t teach anyone that.

  • cheeto
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Re: Is it necessary to learn music theory to make music?
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2015, 02:52:56 PM »
It's not necessary at all. Some of the best songwriters over the last century have had no formal music training whatsoever. Music theory is merely an explanation for what is happening musically. It's more of a language that musicians use to communicate ideas quickly between themselves. As someone who has learned music theory, I spent a lot of time forgetting what I knew on purpose because I got caught up in the theory of what I was doing. Not thinking analytically about music made me a better performer. But that being said, having basic understanding is a good idea, especially for engineers. At least know enough vocabulary to communicate to other musicians. Otherwise they'll think you don't know anything about music, no matter how much you actually might.

Re: Is it necessary to learn music theory to make music?
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2015, 09:14:53 AM »
I think so. Understanding the theory is like learning the language of music. A lot of people get stuck in the key of C. Riffing off of C minor. But if C minor is your key,what one is missing is how the chord C minor is related to other keys. Case in point. In the key of Bb, C minor it the second chord/chord assigned to the 2nd note in Bb. In the key of Ab, C minor is the chord assigned to the 3rd note in Ab.C minor is the 6th chord in Eb. Proper chord placement according to the scale used. Then there is the trip with expanded chords. Adding 7,9 and 13th notes. Next is the altered chord trip. Case in point, G dom7#9, some people may call that chord a major-minor.If you play a G7th and a G minor 7th. and you want to include the natual and minor 3rd in the same chord, it becomes a tension trip. But if you expand the chord note for note, you will discove that the Bb  at the top pf the chord is actually the 9th raised. Here is something to think about. You play a 13th chord. If you move the bass 4 whole steps down,where that bass lands turns the 13th chord into a Dom7th#5#9. You may need to tell someone what to play. You can't do that if you don't know what you are talking about.

  • Thejamal
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Re: Is it necessary to learn music theory to make music?
« Reply #12 on: April 14, 2015, 12:24:05 AM »
It's not necessary at all. Some of the best songwriters over the last century have had no formal music training whatsoever. Music theory is merely an explanation for what is happening musically. It's more of a language that musicians use to communicate ideas quickly between themselves. As someone who has learned music theory, I spent a lot of time forgetting what I knew on purpose because I got caught up in the theory of what I was doing. Not thinking analytically about music made me a better performer. But that being said, having basic understanding is a good idea, especially for engineers. At least know enough vocabulary to communicate to other musicians. Otherwise they'll think you don't know anything about music, no matter how much you actually might.

One of my favorite Charlie Parker quotes is "Practice, Practice, Practice. But when you're on the gig, forget all that ******** and just play."In order to get to that point of being able to "just play" though, you have to have a pretty decent idea of what you're doing and whats going on in the music.

Maybe its just me, but I'm not sure why anyone who plays, writes, records, or produces music wouldn't want to learn more about their craft. It's like really enjoying cooking, but never learning how to make anything or learning a good recipe.

Re: Is it necessary to learn music theory to make music?
« Reply #13 on: April 14, 2015, 01:17:51 AM »
I think so. Understanding the theory is like learning the language of music. A lot of people get stuck in the key of C. Riffing off of C minor. But if C minor is your key,what one is missing is how the chord C minor is related to other keys. Case in point. In the key of Bb, C minor it the second chord/chord assigned to the 2nd note in Bb. In the key of Ab, C minor is the chord assigned to the 3rd note in Ab.C minor is the 6th chord in Eb. Proper chord placement according to the scale used. Then there is the trip with expanded chords. Adding 7,9 and 13th notes. Next is the altered chord trip. Case in point, G dom7#9, some people may call that chord a major-minor.If you play a G7th and a G minor 7th. and you want to include the natual and minor 3rd in the same chord, it becomes a tension trip. But if you expand the chord note for note, you will discove that the Bb  at the top pf the chord is actually the 9th raised. Here is something to think about. You play a 13th chord. If you move the bass 4 whole steps down,where that bass lands turns the 13th chord into a Dom7th#5#9. You may need to tell someone what to play. You can't do that if you don't know what you are talking about.

Haha, that last bit. I was recently acquainted with a former recording engineer. When I was trying to teach him how to play one of my favorite songs so I could focus on the vocals, he did not know any of the chords I was talking about. This astounded me. Kind of made me bitter I never made a real attempt at getting into the industry, too. I probably could have BSed my way through things the way he did. Maybe it’s not too late…

  • Aladar
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Re: Is it necessary to learn music theory to make music?
« Reply #14 on: April 18, 2015, 04:32:11 PM »
Definitely not. I know many artists, some even moderately succesful (as in, signed to a label, putting out music and actively touring internationally) that never had any proper music training. They just experimented with what they had until it sounded right, and then released it to the public. You don't really need to know music theory for most contemporary genres.