Think about this….
Guitar theory is simply… KNOWLEDGE.
Knowledge you gain over time as you continually learn new things about playing guitar.
That process never stops. We are always learning. Always gaining ‘new’ knowledge…
The ‘engine’ that drives your guitar playing is your brain. Which does two things:-
- It controls your muscles and nerves – for the ‘physical’ action of playing of guitar – strumming, picking, changing chords, soloing etc.
- It accumulates knowledge, concepts and ideas that you use ‘creatively’ to make music. This is the ‘head’ or ‘thinking’ part of the process. E.g. How will you play that next chord coming up? What notes you will target in your solo on the next chord change? It’s the way you play and express yourself.
Playing involves physical skills and head skills.
Theory involves both…
The two sides of guitar theory
So when I talk about guitar ‘theory’, I’m talking about two different areas where theory is essential if you want to be the best you can be.
PHYSICAL theory and HEAD theory.
1: PHYSICAL THEORY: There is a theory which relates to the best way to do the physical things. The best way to practice guitar. The best way to develop a good technique. The best way to pick and strum. The best way to play scales. Efficient use of your hands and fingers. So you have a relaxed, fluid, professional quality sound.
“This applies to the simplest of things, too. Learn to do the simple things really well. Do that and the more complex, tricky things will take care of themselves.”
2: HEAD THEORY: Secondly, there’s a theory of how to apply musical ideas and concepts to your guitar playing.
Those ideas and concepts involve ‘knowledge’ you have in your head. Especially about how you think about what you’re doing. About working from a position of strength and confidence.
Knowledge you have about how chords, scales and keys relate:-
- so you know what chords you can substitute for others
- so you know what chords belong to what keys – makes learning and writing songs easier
- so you know what note choices you have when improvising
- so you know how and when to use triads and arpeggios…
- or… the pentatonic and blues scales
Learn Guitar TheoryThe more knowledge you have about these concepts the more choices you have for being creative in the way you use them.
And that, to me, is what playing guitar is really about…
Creative self-expression! Creating the sound and effect you want your listeners to hear and respond to.
And that comes from knowing what your choices are.
And that’s why guitar ‘theory’ is important.
Theory is simply the knowledge of ‘musical’ ideas and concepts… and working out ways to apply them with your own unique guitar playing style.
In ‘creative’ ways that sound good and give you and your listeners a big buzz!
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