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How Important Is Music Theory Knowledge?


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#1 adamcostellomusic

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 05:45 PM

I barely have any knowledge of music theory. I want to know if that really matters when it comes to dance music? I know they are a lot of artists out there who cant even read sheet music and everyone knows when something "sounds to key" or not.

#2 redsun

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 05:52 PM

Imporatant, but good ear is more important.

#3 tehlord

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 06:10 PM

Imporatant, but good ear is more important.



Yup, although a good ear can become a fantastic ear with a bit of training.

#4 Eric Leon

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 06:24 PM

very very important i find that with music theory you can write tracks more easily

#5 redsun

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 06:25 PM

Yup, although a good ear can become a fantastic ear with a bit of training.

Yup. Ear muscles rulez.

#6 Klaneer

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 06:27 PM

very °ing important, or you will end through hundreds of midis searching for right chord and thousands of midis searching which notes u can apply next :)

#7 mattlange

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 06:36 PM

The only people who say it's not important are the one's who weren't dedicated enough to learn it.

#8 tytan

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 06:51 PM

If you have good ear it`s not important in my opinion. You can hear whats sounds right or not. Make your own theory based on personal experience :msn-wink:

#9 GrandPrix

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 07:08 PM

Depends on your previous training as well. I was heavy into choir and have been musically inclined all of my life studying how it works. I could never play an instrument or anything that committed, but I know the basics of 4/4 time, terminology like down and off beat. I know what chords you need and which sound good. I understand that chords in trance are often suspension after suspension, etc.

I've made do with this, but like others have said it's up to your ear. Musical theory cannot teach you how to EQ your kick drums properly within the rest of a mix for example. That is part of becoming a good producer, not songwriter. The difference is important to note.

Edited by GrandPrix, 23 July 2011 - 07:09 PM.

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#10 Lethyx

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 07:40 PM

I was suffering from an artist block for half a year, I couldn't create any original melodies at all. Then I decided to look deeper into music theory, and now my artist block is gone! Making melodies is easier after you learn the major and minor scales.

#11 drogtechmusic

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Posted 23 July 2011 - 08:28 PM

I think its important to know basic rules I took one lesson and I can understand some stuff better and how it works ect but still with the knowledge some progressions doesnt sound right when doing them by "the book" so you need to find right balance ;)

#12 Arksun

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 01:34 AM

The only people who say it's not important are the one's who weren't dedicated enough to learn it.


Some of the greatest minds and greatest artists of the world were entirely self taught. Dedication yes, but not always to established theory.

I think a combination of both can do wonders, a little of the basics to create a solid foundation of the western scale in your mind, but the rest, developing your own sense of what sounds right just based on experience, playing around and absorbing lots of music by others.
But anything is possible really, with dedication.

#13 Timothy Sky

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 02:15 AM

Some of the greatest minds and greatest artists of the world were entirely self taught. Dedication yes, but not always to established theory.

I think a combination of both can do wonders, a little of the basics to create a solid foundation of the western scale in your mind, but the rest, developing your own sense of what sounds right just based on experience, playing around and absorbing lots of music by others.
But anything is possible really, with dedication.

You are right, both of these things end up working hand in hand.

#14 Benne Z

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 03:08 AM

Music theory is the combined "what works and what doesn't" of around 600 years of western musical experimentation.

Personally, I don't have 600 years to figure that out all for myself, so yeah, learning scales, modes and Baroque 4-part harmony (no, seriously, I did a course on that -- long enough ago that all I really remember was having a hard time avoiding moving voices in parallel fifths or octaves) cut out the first 200 years or so...

#15 Marcioz Pollack

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 12:08 PM

anyone can say a book or a website to learn something about it?

very °ing important, or you will end through hundreds of midis searching for right chord and thousands of midis searching which notes u can apply next :)


im actually doint it, i wanna learn music theory only to avoid it


edit: i found a nice braziliam book at books.google.com, and i can read it for free! :-)

Edited by Marcioz Pollack, 24 July 2011 - 12:16 PM.

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#16 rolfk

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 12:17 PM



heheh so you dont need to know anything about reading notes , according Tiesto ..

#17 FarleyCZ

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 01:43 PM

Well I thing it depends on what you define as music theory. :-) It's really abstract expression.

If you mean knowledge about notes, interval, chords, scales, you definitely need it. It speedens you eventhough you don't know all that scales by name, or all "variations" of chords, or you (like me) can't play any song on keyboard without mistakes :-D ,this base is really useful anyway. It's not anything particulary hard to figure out just by jamming on piano, so I bet even Tiësto got it some day since that interview. :-)

...if you by "theory" means all that learning about classical piece structure, all composing "methods", articulations, playing styles, history of classic music, milions of hours playing violin and I don't know what else they teach on this big-priced huge-profiled classical music schools then I say, it may slow you down in terms of EDM. They learn what they know someone somdeday did, but they will not "teach" you how to do something entirely new. Of course it could be usefull even in EDM, but I don't think it's essential in any way. :-)

But it's just a feel, I could be wrong. You need to ask someone who actually achieved somthing. :lol:

Edited by FarleyCZ, 24 July 2011 - 01:46 PM.


#18 mattlange

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 03:31 PM

Some of the greatest minds and greatest artists of the world were entirely self taught. Dedication yes, but not always to established theory.

I think a combination of both can do wonders, a little of the basics to create a solid foundation of the western scale in your mind, but the rest, developing your own sense of what sounds right just based on experience, playing around and absorbing lots of music by others.
But anything is possible really, with dedication.


being self taught and learning music theory aren't mutually exclusive. you can still be self taught, and teach yourself music theory. Go to the library, or I guess these days, the internet, and you can teach yourself. knowledge is power.

#19 Matt Williams

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 03:43 PM

I was suffering from an artist block for half a year, I couldn't create any original melodies at all. Then I decided to look deeper into music theory, and now my artist block is gone! Making melodies is easier after you learn the major and minor scales.


Tbh I'm at that point atm, it's been months since I've done something I was happy with... Getting deeper into music theory now, but even just the very basic stuff made my understanding a lot better of making music

#20 Arksun

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 04:16 PM

being self taught and learning music theory aren't mutually exclusive. you can still be self taught, and teach yourself music theory. Go to the library, or I guess these days, the internet, and you can teach yourself. knowledge is power.


Absolutely, I was just making the point that just because someone doesn't invest a lot of time specifically in learning established theory, doesn't mean they're lazy or lack dedication. One can be dedicated through lots of experience and self learning by just feeling your way through what sounds right or what doesn't.

When I was very young I used to love just hitting lots of random keys on the piano. After a while I got into copying my favourite melodies I would hear on TV show theme tunes and stuff and then I would start making new melodies around them. This was before I even knew what keys or chords or scales where, I just pressed the white or the black things that seemed to sound right to me.

The combination of both at least a little theory and self learning is best as it'll most likely get you where you want to go faster, but not following a path of strict musical theory learning has absolutely no inherent relation to an artists sense of dedication to their art imho.

#21 tehlord

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 06:15 PM

One aspect that's possibly not so well known is that the simple act of playing scales, simple music pieces and learning just the basics of an instrument and music will establish certain neural connections in the brain that just banging at a note until it sounds right won't do. My musical theory training has been pretty extensive and I find writing melodies an absolute doddle, in fact I don't even write them, I just hear them naturally. That doesn't make them good perhaps!!

What I can't do well is percussion and drums, but I'm slowly training myself in that discipline as well with both theory and practise, reading up on certain styles as I go. It's the combination of experimentation and study that will work best in almost every respect imo. Dedication should be a given if you really want to become good at what you do, no matter what that is.

#22 nomnomnom

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 06:48 PM

Whether you claim to be self-taught or you learn from an organised institution, being able to throw Nexus/Sylenth presets, Vengeance and Apple Loops together doesn't make you a producer or a musician; it makes you someone who's able to piece together a puzzle. This is fine if you're only looking for a Beatport top 100 (and that's not even a guarantee), but if you want staying power as a musician/producer, take the time and really LEARN at least some basic music theory. You don't have to know everything there is to know about chord scales, harmony, and composition, and you don't have to be the BEST sheet music reader in order to be a great musician - some of the best stuff happens by having great ears, making mistakes or flat out breaking traditional rules of composition. But learning even some basic stuff will help your own compositions and your creativity tremendously.

I'm not trying to sound snobby or pretentious - we live in a world now where music is super cheap to make, which means more people have the opportunity to do it. This is awesome. Music is, after all, a form of self-expression. And it really does depend what you are hoping to achieve on your own. If you are just trying to mess around as a hobby, learning some music theory really may not be important to you. But if you are hoping to someday have music released or even branch out into being a career musician, I really encourage you to take advantage of all of the information, knowledge, video and written tutorials, and tools that are available for little to no money, and give yourself the chance to be a musician, not just someone who knows how to fit pieces together. That is my fifty cents :)

#23 tehlord

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 06:52 PM

Whether you claim to be self-taught or you learn from an organised institution, being able to throw Nexus/Sylenth presets, Vengeance and Apple Loops together doesn't make you a producer or a musician; it makes you someone who's able to piece together a puzzle. This is fine if you're only looking for a Beatport top 100 (and that's not even a guarantee), but if you want staying power as a musician/producer, take the time and really LEARN at least some basic music theory. You don't have to know everything there is to know about chord scales, harmony, and composition, and you don't have to be the BEST sheet music reader in order to be a great musician - some of the best stuff happens by having great ears, making mistakes or flat out breaking traditional rules of composition. But learning even some basic stuff will help your own compositions and your creativity tremendously.

I'm not trying to sound snobby or pretentious - we live in a world now where music is super cheap to make, which means more people have the opportunity to do it. This is awesome. Music is, after all, a form of self-expression. And it really does depend what you are hoping to achieve on your own. If you are just trying to mess around as a hobby, learning some music theory really may not be important to you. But if you are hoping to someday have music released or even branch out into being a career musician, I really encourage you to take advantage of all of the information, knowledge, video and written tutorials, and tools that are available for little to no money, and give yourself the chance to be a musician, not just someone who knows how to fit pieces together. That is my fifty cents :)



Yup, yup and yup.

Edited by tehlord, 24 July 2011 - 06:52 PM.


#24 Nick82

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 06:55 PM

Whether you claim to be self-taught or you learn from an organised institution, being able to throw Nexus/Sylenth presets, Vengeance and Apple Loops together doesn't make you a producer or a musician; it makes you someone who's able to piece together a puzzle. This is fine if you're only looking for a Beatport top 100 (and that's not even a guarantee), but if you want staying power as a musician/producer, take the time and really LEARN at least some basic music theory. You don't have to know everything there is to know about chord scales, harmony, and composition, and you don't have to be the BEST sheet music reader in order to be a great musician - some of the best stuff happens by having great ears, making mistakes or flat out breaking traditional rules of composition. But learning even some basic stuff will help your own compositions and your creativity tremendously.

I'm not trying to sound snobby or pretentious - we live in a world now where music is super cheap to make, which means more people have the opportunity to do it. This is awesome. Music is, after all, a form of self-expression. And it really does depend what you are hoping to achieve on your own. If you are just trying to mess around as a hobby, learning some music theory really may not be important to you. But if you are hoping to someday have music released or even branch out into being a career musician, I really encourage you to take advantage of all of the information, knowledge, video and written tutorials, and tools that are available for little to no money, and give yourself the chance to be a musician, not just someone who knows how to fit pieces together. That is my fifty cents :)


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#25 Nick82

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Posted 24 July 2011 - 07:01 PM

http://www.youtube.c...h?v=6Ov0YMMc3nY

heheh so you dont need to know anything about reading notes , according Tiesto ..


O: 57

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#26 Lethyx

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 04:39 AM



heheh so you dont need to know anything about reading notes , according Tiesto ..


Fake <_<

#27 Trancestorm

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 12:01 PM

hmm as i learned musical theory self taught i was going lost at some point. i felt into playing to much pattern instead of creating new concepts.
so i think better learn it self taught without books and when u think ok its enough then grab some books from the library - they are better for learning i guess. pdf are sucking i downloaded to much of them and i never read them.
and utube vid or vids in general about musical theory isnt helping or get u learning the stuff. :unsure:
... just my opinion.

and to the question:
first train ur ear and then go grab u the knowlegde that u not get confused with all those intervalls/ chords and stuff. vids are sucking for learning music theory.

and really good is when u have a member of the family which can play piano. u have the piano and a person who can help u sometimes, when u stuck and not able to understand what is going on - and it helps when u fell that u achieve nothing.

Edited by Trancestorm, 25 July 2011 - 12:01 PM.

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#28 nomnomnom

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 02:43 PM

hmm as i learned musical theory self taught i was going lost at some point. i felt into playing to much pattern instead of creating new concepts.
so i think better learn it self taught without books and when u think ok its enough then grab some books from the library - they are better for learning i guess. pdf are sucking i downloaded to much of them and i never read them.
and utube vid or vids in general about musical theory isnt helping or get u learning the stuff. :unsure:
... just my opinion.

and to the question:
first train ur ear and then go grab u the knowlegde that u not get confused with all those intervalls/ chords and stuff. vids are sucking for learning music theory.

and really good is when u have a member of the family which can play piano. u have the piano and a person who can help u sometimes, when u stuck and not able to understand what is going on - and it helps when u fell that u achieve nothing.



The thing about teaching yourself ANYTHING is a bit of a double-edged sword. You have to actually have an idea of WHAT you want to learn before you can feasibly go learn it anywhere. This happened to me while learning Logic. I had to use it in a class at school, so I learned what the teacher taught for the curriculum, but ultimately in order to get it to do what I really needed/wanted it to do, I had to learn what I needed to know as I was ready to learn it. So it's awesome to teach yourself because you can learn at your own pace and pick up what you want when you want to. The nice thing about teaching yourself is just as you described: you have the ability to try one method (ie teaching yourself to play an instrument by ear) and then when you're feeling stagnant or that you're falling into the same patterns, you can try to incorporate another method of learning (such as reading books, watching video tutorials, etc). It absolutely does help to have someone who's got a bit of experience/training to help you if you're lost or stuck.

Ultimately when you're trying to teach yourself anything, you have to have the patience to get over whatever speed bumps you hit (be it troubleshooting gear, being unable to play a certain passage in a piece of music, or not quite understanding what is meant by a Neapolitan chord) and you have to have the initiative to go searching for other skills to learn so that you can build up your knowledge. But believe me, it's worth it if you really want to learn :) So, keep it up and don't let the occasional discouragement get in your way.

#29 Norland

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 04:06 PM

It's absolutely essential if you're a music lover and you want to grow as a musician. If you're just going to create and listen to trance all your life then nah you don't have to.

Edited by Norland, 25 July 2011 - 04:06 PM.


#30 Norland

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Posted 25 July 2011 - 04:10 PM

The thing about teaching yourself ANYTHING is a bit of a double-edged sword. You have to actually have an idea of WHAT you want to learn before you can feasibly go learn it anywhere. This happened to me while learning Logic. I had to use it in a class at school, so I learned what the teacher taught for the curriculum, but ultimately in order to get it to do what I really needed/wanted it to do, I had to learn what I needed to know as I was ready to learn it. So it's awesome to teach yourself because you can learn at your own pace and pick up what you want when you want to. The nice thing about teaching yourself is just as you described: you have the ability to try one method (ie teaching yourself to play an instrument by ear) and then when you're feeling stagnant or that you're falling into the same patterns, you can try to incorporate another method of learning (such as reading books, watching video tutorials, etc). It absolutely does help to have someone who's got a bit of experience/training to help you if you're lost or stuck.

Ultimately when you're trying to teach yourself anything, you have to have the patience to get over whatever speed bumps you hit (be it troubleshooting gear, being unable to play a certain passage in a piece of music, or not quite understanding what is meant by a Neapolitan chord) and you have to have the initiative to go searching for other skills to learn so that you can build up your knowledge. But believe me, it's worth it if you really want to learn :) So, keep it up and don't let the occasional discouragement get in your way.


Well it's great to teach yourself, but it is also great to learn in school. I think combination of both is best. For example I had to learn Counterpoint in my school but I had no interest in that before, but when I had finished I was so happy that I learned it and it helped me a lot as a musician.
So teaching yourself is great because you can choose what you want to learn, but the things you don't want to learn might actually help you a lot and you might like them when you start learning them.

Edited by Norland, 25 July 2011 - 04:11 PM.





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