Music theory is the language of music and the study of how music is put together. Having an understanding of music theory is helpful in many ways. For example, when teaching it is much easier & quicker to communicate ideas to a student if the student has a good knowledge of theory. If you play in a band ideas can be passed around and expressed clearly and concisely if the members have good theory knowledge. For lead guitarists theory helps you put the right scale with the right chords. For writers and composers it provides clear direction on chord progressions and melody.
Almost all of the top guitarists today have a good knowledge of theory as well as strong technique. If you want to join them you will need the same.
Music was around a long time before theory came along so it could be said that theory is just a way of writing down and remembering things that sound good. I have come across students who have no musical knowledge what so ever but have written some great music. When we have sat down and analysed what they have written we have found that their music conforms with accepted music theory. The reason for this, I believe, is that we grow up listening to music and are conditioned to hear music in a certain way. Therefore when we write music it conforms to the musical patterns we have grown up listening to. If somebody can write music with no theory knowledge what is the point of learning theory? By learning why your music sounds a certain way theory can help you recreate that sound or avoid it. It should also open up new musical avenues for you to explore.
Finally, music theory will help you gain an insight into how your guitar works. Attempting to jam with other musicians without theory is guesswork usually. Theory gets you straight in and playing something cool which surely is what playing an instrument is about.
Next up: Lesson 2 – Naming the notes
Randy Rhoads was most famous for being Ozzy Osbourne’s guitarist on the albums “Blizzard of Oz” and “Diary of a madman”, Ozzy’s first albums since splitting with Black Sabbath. Randy played guitar for the band “Quiet Riot” before joining Ozzy’s band and was also a dedicated classical guitar player and would seek out classical guitar lessons whilst on tour. Randy was one of the first “schooled” rock guitarists and had a deep knowledge of music theory, composition, and guitar techniques. This coupled with his natural musicality combined to make him one of the greatest guitarists ever. Randy was tragically killed in a plane crash on March 19, 1982. In 1987 Ozzy released “Tribute” a live recording of Ozzy and Randy in concert plus some studio out-takes. Have a listen to the clip above to hear Randy playing both in a classical style and also some great lead guitar. The solo at around 2 mins 40 secs is a masterpiece. Enjoy.
One of the greatest jazz guitarists of the 20th century Joe Pass was known for his chord melodies, walking bass lines, and, outstanding knowledge of chord inversions and progressions. New York Magazine said of him, “Joe Pass looks like somebody’s uncle and plays guitar like nobody’s business. He’s called “the world’s greatest” and often compared to Paganini for his virtuosity. There is a certain purity to his sound that makes him stand out easily from other first-rate jazz guitarists”.
Eric Roche was an awesome guitar player. Acoustic finger style, tapping, harmonics, slapping, and many other amazing techniques, but most of all some truly beautiful guitar playing. He also taught at the academy of contemporary music and wrote the brilliant “Acoustic Guitar Bible”, get it. Eric Roche sadly died in 2005 but his music and influence still live on. Head over to the official website to find out more about this amazing guitar player.