Question about learning Music Theory and Performance

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Tohtruck
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Question about learning Music Theory and Performance

Post by Tohtruck » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:29 am

I want to learn more about Music Theory and Composition with the specific intention of applying it to electronic music production.

Is it a better route to learn an instrument and pick up on music theory that way?

Or should I just take a music theory class, without taking specific classes in a particular instrument?

I am not particularly interested in learning notation or how to read sheet music (at least not in the immediate future). However, I've heard from people that guys who do commercial work (which seems like decent money) are expected to know music notation in order to sell their music (regardless if they use computers or not). Is this true?

In terms of instruments, my situation is this:

I did some video work pro-bono, for a musician buddy of mine who plays guitar (rock music). In exchange, he is giving me his old electric guitar (it's a basic starter guitar) and he agreed to teach me a bit. However, he is ridiculously flakey, so I am not counting on him for instruction.

Regardless, I want to learn how to play the guitar. It's just something I've always wanted to do, and I've found that it is difficult to emulate the specific articulations and dynamics of the guitar with a keyboard and virtual instruments.

Likewise, I am willing to throwdown money for instruction.

There is a piano in my house. It's old and most likely out of tune. I'm not particularly interested in the piano, aside from learning it for application to keyboard techniques in production. Likewise, I do own a midi keyboard, and will most likely practice on that more (as my neighbors have complained about me practicing the piano).

So I am also open to investing and taking time to learn more keyboard techniques. Should I look for keyboard instruction or should I look to take piano classes?
I ask this because there are some slight differences between a synth/midi keyboard and a piano. Also, I might also take into account the possibility that a keyboard instructor (as opposed to a piano instructor) might know about synthesis and electronic music. Likewise, he might be able to teach me specifically how to apply the keyboard techniques that I learn directly to my music production, as well as teaching some sound synthesis.

With that aside, if I do take instrument classes, would it be a good idea to also add some music theory classes on top of the instrument instruction? Or should I just focus on one thing? Or just use an instrument class alone to learn theory as well? Or should I learn music theory and then learn an instrument? Or learn an instrument first and then learn some music theory.

Any advice is appreciated. Essentially, my plan is to seek instruction on the musical side and develop that part while also continuing to dabble in Live and the technical side of production on my own. As I develop and become more comfortable musically, I will also seriously consider investing in classes in strictly production (possibly at a place like Dubspot or Scratch Academy) sometime in the very near future.
Last edited by Tohtruck on Mon Mar 12, 2012 10:27 am, edited 3 times in total.

Rabalder
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Re: Question about learning Music Theory and Performance

Post by Rabalder » Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:43 am

waaaaaaaaaay too many letters....

edit:
waaaaaaaaaay better..

Rabalder
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Re: Question about learning Music Theory and Performance

Post by Rabalder » Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:36 am

You have apparently thought a lot about this, and it sounds like a couple of years at a music school could do you some good..

For most people the best thing to do is just dive right in. Too much thinking about this and that can screw things up and make the learning process very boring.
If you want to learn to play the guitar just get a guitar and start to play. Same goes for all the other things you mention.
If you ask me, the biggest question is weather you can teach yourself, or do you need a teacher(s)?

Understanding music notation is absolutly a good thing. If you want to work with musicians who use notation, your knowledge of notation would be very important. Depends on the market youre aiming for.

There isnt really a correct path to travel down when it comes to music. Its just a lot of different ways.

Anyways, what you describe can easily take many years, so try to make the learning process fun and inspiring.

Just remember, there is a big difference in thinking about the future and actually beeing there.

Sage
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Re: Question about learning Music Theory and Performance

Post by Sage » Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:03 pm

Learning guitar would be useful as it's more expressive an instrument compared to piano and valuable to your production/composition skills.

There's no difference between a MIDI keyboard or a piano in terms of technique, so I don't understand what you're getting at there. If you want to learn keyboard/piano, then get a dedicated teacher. If you want to learn about synths, then go on a music production course, you don't need to know how to play keys to play a synth.

oddstep
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Re: Question about learning Music Theory and Performance

Post by oddstep » Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:30 pm

learn guitar. they are portable. instant charisma, you can play one sitting on the beach or when everyone is dorking out at 6 in the morning. piano will make western music theory more transparent because all the notes are laid out in front of you.

anybody human
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Re: Question about learning Music Theory and Performance

Post by anybody human » Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:37 pm

If you want to learn music theory, chord theory etc. I would suggest finding a local piano teacher. Ask around for some recommendations and tell the piano teacher you're not looking to learn how to be an expert piano player, just interested in using it as a tool to lean theory. It's much better to learn music theory on piano than on guitar, for many reasons. Guitar is one of the more difficult instruments to play for one, and with piano everything is laid out in front of you. There's a reason people learn theory on piano, it's just way more suited to the task. Can't emphasize this enough. I've always played guitar but have been taking piano lessons to learn theory for more than a year and it's one of the best decisions I've ever made. Extremely rewarding, helps the composition process immensely.

Good luck and have fun!

simmerdown
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Re: Question about learning Music Theory and Performance

Post by simmerdown » Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:59 pm

tl/dr

but there is a book, Music Threory for the Computer Musician, check amazon..also, Music Theory for Dummies gets strait to the point...

bartend7
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Re: Question about learning Music Theory and Performance

Post by bartend7 » Mon Mar 12, 2012 7:18 pm

Sage wrote:Learning guitar would be useful as it's more expressive an instrument compared to piano and valuable to your production/composition skills.

There's no difference between a MIDI keyboard or a piano in terms of technique, so I don't understand what you're getting at there. If you want to learn keyboard/piano, then get a dedicated teacher. If you want to learn about synths, then go on a music production course, you don't need to know how to play keys to play a synth.

piano less expressive than guitar... WRONG listen to chopin buddy.

no difference in technique between midi keyboard and piano.. WRONG if the midi keyboard does not have weighted keys its almost completely different. pianos are acoustic and midi keyboards are not. this is a huge difference for musicians, maybe not as much for computer programer producers.

Tohtruck
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Re: Question about learning Music Theory and Performance

Post by Tohtruck » Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:51 pm

Okay I should elaborate,

What I meant was, if I search for an instructor who advertises (or request a teacher) who teaches "keyboard lessons" there's also a likelihood he understand production and synth concepts. As opposed to say, a classical acoustic piano teacher, who understands music theory but doesn't know much about synthesis or electronics and software music production. So the keyboard teacher could probably also give me production and/or synthesis tips as he's teaching me the technique and music theory.

Tohtruck
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Re: Question about learning Music Theory and Performance

Post by Tohtruck » Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:53 pm

I just remember that the few piano teachers that I have met or knew didn't know anything about production or synthesis. I took a basic keyboard and piano class in college and the guy didn't know anything about the electronic side of this. He was essentially strictly a piano teacher.

Vios
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Re: Question about learning Music Theory and Performance

Post by Vios » Mon Mar 12, 2012 9:59 pm

This really depends on where you want to go with music. Do you want to play the guitar in a band? Do you want to produce your own music? Do you prefer the piano or the guitar better? Answering these questions will probably tell you where you want to go. I don't see any reason to learn piano just for the sake of learning music theory. However you definitely want something around that you can play multiple notes on to hear how different harmonies sound. A computer, piano, or guitar work for this.

Some music theory is great to know for any of these. I started by reading Music Theory for Dummies and have picked up little things piece by piece since then. Soon you'll be ready for THIS. Most classical musicians know this stuff by heart. It's not really that complicated, just learn everything in C major and then it's mostly just a matter of transposition.
Last edited by Vios on Wed Sep 12, 2012 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sage
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Re: Question about learning Music Theory and Performance

Post by Sage » Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:00 pm

bartend7 wrote:
Sage wrote:Learning guitar would be useful as it's more expressive an instrument compared to piano and valuable to your production/composition skills.

There's no difference between a MIDI keyboard or a piano in terms of technique, so I don't understand what you're getting at there. If you want to learn keyboard/piano, then get a dedicated teacher. If you want to learn about synths, then go on a music production course, you don't need to know how to play keys to play a synth.

piano less expressive than guitar... WRONG listen to chopin buddy.

no difference in technique between midi keyboard and piano.. WRONG if the midi keyboard does not have weighted keys its almost completely different. pianos are acoustic and midi keyboards are not. this is a huge difference for musicians, maybe not as much for computer programer producers.
I am a musician and I do play guitar & piano (10 and 15 years). Piano is not as expressive as a guitar as you only have a couple of pedals to alter the sustain, otherwise, the only expression available to you is how hard you hit the keys. With guitar, you can slide between notes, bend the strings to get notes in between (Essential for blues!), you can play it with just one hand or with a plectrum, your fingertips or fingernails, then there's all the various forms of harmonics and so on.
So although people have created beautiful music with a piano, it's not as expressive as a guitar for all those reasons.

Ok, yes a MIDI keyboard does feel different to a real acoustic piano, but even acoustic pianos feel different to each other. But the fundamentals of how you play either doesn't change, nor does say, playing acoustic or electric guitar.

Unless I'm unique as I don't have a major issue with using weighted & non-weighted MIDI keyboards, electric pianos and acoustic pianos, but I highly doubt that's the case.

pepezabala
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Re: Question about learning Music Theory and Performance

Post by pepezabala » Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:19 pm

my 2 cents. I am an old man who has spent most of his life playing music, in bands, as a Radio DJ, at home, for money, for friends, whatever.

I am soooo sorry I ditched piano lessons when I was a teenager and never really learned to read and write sheet music.

If you are young and have the time. Do it. Do it now. Later you won't have time to learn it. You will play your badass self-taught music, but envy the real musicians.

Tone Deft
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Re: Question about learning Music Theory and Performance

Post by Tone Deft » Mon Mar 12, 2012 11:39 pm

forumites-
whenever anyone ever asks you if they should learn an instrument, the answer should be a resounding "FCUK YEAH!"

it's tough to not learn theory while playing an instrument. you don't absolutely need it but I don't know how knowledge can hurt.



unless it's from someone that plays both piano and guitar, engaging in an argument on which is more expressive is childish.
oddstep wrote:I agree with all of this. I'm just bored of writing "its music, just listen and trust your judgement"

gjm
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Re: Question about learning Music Theory and Performance

Post by gjm » Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:21 am

IMHO. To get the best results in the quickest time, choose your instrument and commit to an exam system (Trinity, Royal Conservatory etc). And yes, learn the relationship between theory and application on your chosen instrument in the context of classical music. The are so many more advantages than with modern music. In terms of becoming acquainted with the instruments note range, piano is easier than guitar and has the added bonus of bass clef notation. Then apply your developing understanding to your electronic music by asking questions and doing comparisons. Keep the synthesis stuff separate. I have never met anyone who regretted learning to read notation. Lots of people lament only knowing tab (although some are just fine with this). What ever you do, start now. The more you do it the more you will realize that you wished you started earlier because there is sooooo much music and soooo many composers to explore and your time is short. :)
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