Thursday, August 27, 2009

Music Theory

Don Mock 7/2/2003 5:12 PM
Hey guys, Don Mock here ready to talk theory. No other aspect of music is as important to get a handle on than music theory. And it doesn't have to be that clumsy old classical theory either. If you just learn the basics of modern "players" theory you will be armed with enough info to play just about anything. And it's not that hard. If you can understand some basic math, theory will be a snap. Probably the biggest hurdle in theory is learning the "language" of music. There are sometime several terms for the same thing. But once you get past these issues, you will be on your way. So let's talk some theory...maybe I can help, or maybe I can learn something new from you. Let's find out...-Don Mock

clovis 2127/18/2003 8:29 AM
I agree with you Don. The biggest thing that has really made me the musician I am today is my knowledge of the fretboard and music theory. Once I studied Frank Gambale's "Technique Book 1" and saw how over a Dim7 chord (for example) you can substitute all the arps, triads, pentatonics from the key of C major for that Dorian sound, I was well on my way to being a better guitarist. THAT knowledge right there of substituting just the basic diatonic arpeggios and pentatonics, etc from the given key....for any mode..(not even playing "outside" yet) really opened my eyes. Before then I was just playing "Scaluar" licks, runs, etc using the correct fingerboard positions for the scales and not even thinking of chord tones.....Once I moved on to the Melodic Minor scale and studied your book "Melodic Minor Secrets Revealed"...the entire book made immediate sense to me.John

hutz13 1/31/2004 11:23 PM
So what would be step one for a beginner to get a grasp of basic theory?

Don Mock 2/15/2004 12:18 AM
Hutz, Step one is just knowing that there is such a thing called music theory. Step two is knowing that a lot of theory is simple math, and the learning of the "language" of music. What sometimes takes months to learn in a college music theory class can actually be learned in a few short hours. Find a teacher or experienced player to explain to you the basics of theory like the major scale, diatonic harmony and chord construction. It's so simple, yet intimidating when you don't understand it. (the classic example is "modes." When you don't understand modes, they're frustrating and overwhelming, but once you get it, you can't believe you didn't understand it in the first place.) And you should start out learning basic "players" practical theory, not a full blown classical counterpoint theory. There's lots of books out, we even have a few on the subject, but to be honest, a beginner would be better off just spending an hour or two with the right person to take you through basic theory and answer your questions. Or a class at a local music school or Jr. college. Most of music theory is black and white and once memorized, you are done with it. Using and applying it musically in your guitar playing, well, that can take a life time. - Don Mock

lunetta 7/8/2004 5:47 AM
Don,How can a thorough understanding of "modes" lead to my betterment as a guitar player? I can play all the major scale modes, and I understand how they are constructed, but I can't seem to appreciate what all the fuss is about or how to use that knowledge to my advantage. What am I missing?By the way, your melodic minor book was a real godsend for me. I love the way you cut to the chase to explain the real world methods for getting the most out of the cool tonality that the scale can provide. You certainly have a knack for demystifying an abstruse, intimidating subject, and making it accessible to players without fancy-pants music degrees. I'm looking forward to receiving my order for your symmetrical scales book.

Don Mock 7/9/2004 2:56 AM
Lunetta, great question about modes. You are not missing anything. As you have figured out modes are just versions (different starting points) of major scales. Many players do fine not ever thinking in terms of modes as long as they understand major scales and their harmonies or "Key Centers," an approach I teach and use myself in improvising. In defense of modes, they can help you define chords sounds or families. Dorian, for example, is a minor scale and can also be thought of as a "home" for sounds in minor including arpeggios and chords. When I think, A Dorian, I think of Am7, Am9, Am11 Am6 etc. Of course it's just the 2nd scale in the key of G but some guys like to think of modes as separate families. I've seen charts written where no chords symbols where shown, only mode names like: A dorian - Bb lydian - F mixolydian etc. And it is actually a pretty good way to think. BUT, it's still important to know what major keys you are in too. Cause this is where a lot of the useful substitutes come from. Hope this helps. Thanks, -Don Mock

alfonso 8/25/2004 7:04 PM
Don, I'm a long time guitar player, mostly jazz and latin and I've just started learning about modes. I know my major scales and major modes, well most, ionian, dorian, phyrigian mixolydian and aeolian, hope the spelling is right. I didn't yet learn the locrian or lydian, I haven't yet found a use for either one... My question is this, I'm thinkin there's just the melodic minor modes and the harmonic modes, are they separate? Can I just learn one, like say the melodic minor, and change a note or two on each one, to play the harmonic minor? thanks for your timeAlso, I'm working on your Jazz Rhythm Chops video, excellent video, the best and most informative video I own and I really love that Stevens guitar you play on it...

Don Mock 8/25/2004 11:33 PM
Fretboard, thanks for the post. Sounds like you are making headway on the mode thing. But I think you still might be confused about what they really are. Make sure you clearly understand that the seven modes from the major scale are just major scales starting on different roots. C dorian, for example, IS F mixolydian is A locrian is D phrygian etc. And they all are really just Bb major scales. That is it. When soloing over a chord you have two ways to look at it. First. What major key is the chord in? Just play that scale (or key center as we call it). C major. Gb major. The other way to look at it is to "think" modes. For G mixolydian. For F locrian. It's up to you. Just do not fool your fingers into thinking there are 7 different scales when there is really only one. When you learned your first major scale fingering pattern, you already know all seven modes too. Just start on the different roots in the same pattern. And who solos starting each phrase from the root anyway? I don't even teach new players about modes until they understand key centers. It is a way faster approach to learning improvising.As far as melodic and harmonic minors, I like your thinking. Learn for example, A melodic minor in a few patterns. Then lower all the F# notes to F. Now you have A harmonic minors. And you can play a lot of great ideas for years without ever thinking of these two scales in terms of their modes.Hope this helps - Don Mock

alfonso 8/26/2004 10:00 AM
Don,You're right my thinking is different, maybe even confused. I don't read music very well and that's not how I'm approaching the modes, check out this link and it should explain... I've learned a great deal reading chord charts and working on jazz standards, but I've been limited to the ones I've already heard. It takes a long time to muddle through notes, cause I read notes in a half as manner ... any suggestions? Your screen didn't accept the hyperlink, but in a nutshell, I'm working from patterns. thanks again...

diggity shwag 1/14/2005 6:32 PM
Hi THERE,OKAY, an attempt here (by me :-) ) at trying to learn some of the basics of modern "players" theory?? Are MODAL PLAYING and NON-MODAL PLAYING ever BOTH USED within a single composition????

diggity shwag 1/19/2005 3:37 PM
Another question. :-)What would you say are the prime characteristics of rock?I ask because the language of rock seems a bit vague or random to me. Can you give any insights so that it'll seem less vague?Thank you.

Don Mock 1/25/2005 11:12 PM
Fang, "modal playing" or "non modal playing" are simply two approaches to the same thing. One player in the band might be thinking in terms of modes in a particular tune while another player thinks "key centers." It's all the same stuff, but that's one of the obstacles in learning music, dealing with the fact that there are several ways to arrive at the same point. Your question about rock music is a good one. I hope some other players jump in on this subject/post. I think the confusion with rock is it's heavy influence of blues music. Blues has several hard to define issues in terms of music theory. "Blue notes" for example, are often tones that are not in the key and in classical terms would be considered "wrong." But it's the slang use of these wrong notes in blues that gives it it's soul and identity. Also, rock progressions are often based on unusual or parallel chord moves which are also hard to analyze in traditional music theory. Anyone else have some thoughts? -Don Mock

1 comment:

  1. Dear Don,I am just a normal boy who wants to know music just for fun;but should say maybe I crossed that limit somehow.I like music theories much.I have also read little of your book on Arpeggios.I have got accaquinted with major modes and few other scales by now.
    While trying to jump into Jazz stuff mostly harmonic minor scale and melodic minor scale I have found there is ascending and descending two seperate pattern..Why so? Why not as simple as major modes what you ascend that you descend approach..Wish you happy Easter :)