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DG Whitley


Post  Posted 25 Jan 2018 11:19 am    
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Can anyone suggest an online source for a comprehensive music theory education? I don't necessarily mean a diploma of any type but something that will drill this into my head?

I don't mind paying for it, but I have tried this on my own and I am just confusing myself. All suggestions deeply appreciated, and thank you all in advance.
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Matthew Dyer


From:
Texas, USA
Post  Posted 25 Jan 2018 1:14 pm    
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https://www.edx.org/course?search_query=music+theory

These might be worth checking out.
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John Spaulding


From:
Wisconsin, USA
Post  Posted 25 Jan 2018 5:26 pm    
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WEBSITES

https://www.musictheory.net/

http://www.thejazzresource.com/basic_music_theory.html
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DG Whitley


Post  Posted 26 Jan 2018 4:34 am    
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Thank you Matthew and John, I will be checking these out.
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Dave Magram


From:
San Jose, California, USA
Post  Posted 28 Jan 2018 12:04 am    
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DG,

Not sure what you’re looking for regarding music theory—there are thick books on the subject at the library that go into a great deal of arcane information that is, well…rather “theoretical”, and not at all necessary for a basic understanding of practical concepts.

The basic concepts that I have taught students are:
1) Foundational: How the diatonic scales for the 12 keys are created.
2) The basic number system for chord progressions (aka “Nashville Number System”), and
3) Basic chord construction.

I’ve created a one-page lesson sheet on each of these topics, including short, easy self-reviews. They are very easy to understand.

These three topics may be all you need for playing steel guitar in jam sessions or bands doing country music or gospel (unless you want to learn advanced music theory for jazz improvisation or composing classical music).

If you are just looking for basic practical information, I’d be happy to email you a copy of the three lessons at no charge.

*********************************************
If you want something more, here are two short courses by SGF members that have been discussed on the Forum with many positive comments:

Mike Perlowin's book “Music Theory in the Real World”.
https://steelguitarforum.com/Forum10/HTML/200660.html

Mark van Allen's "Music Theory & Number System for E9" course on two CDs.
https://bb.steelguitarforum.com/viewtopic.php?t=246329&sid=c188e51bd041691f4355e7ab3cefe52b

-Dave

Edited for accuracy on Jan. 28, 2018.


Last edited by Dave Magram on 28 Jan 2018 4:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 28 Jan 2018 2:16 am    
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or just go to a quality local PIANO or guitar teacher,one who can actually make sense and teach at the same time. Sit with them for an hour or two. It doesn't have to be Steel Guitar.

How much do we already understand ?

How much theory do we need ? How deep do we wanna go ? In the scheme of things we don't need all that much unless the goal is to understand every note in relationship to every other note. Which by the time you figure that out, the song is over.

The simple approach: Less is More :

IF we break down a simple song, we all should know it's I, IV , V , regardless of the key. IF we don't know or understand that then yes we need some assistance.

The next step is I, II, IV, V. The next most common chart, regardless of the key.

If we wanna start playing some swing or Jazz, now we move to something like I, VI, II, V , which is laid out literally right in front of us on C6th / 5 pedal tuning in several locations. Regardless of the key.

First question is how much theory do we want and how deep ? The confusion many face is they are studying material that is way ahead of where they really want or need to be.

I want to learn how to use a screwdriver but I don't need to read the patent or a 15 page periodical to figure it out Very Happy

I believe it was Doug Jernigan , a serious theory master, in one of his writings that said, if you can learn and understand the use of these 14 chords you will be set for life.

I know that is true because I have been using the same 12 chords on guitar ( sometimes referred to as the dirty dozen) for a couple of decades now and some people think I am a genius. Seriously not true, not even close. But it is a mix and match kinda thing which can allow you to fight your way thru pretty much any song or chart.

How much do we wanna learn and how deep do we wanna go ?

Never lose sight that the book or teacher is the gateway to learning, if they are too involved , it'll never happen .
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Bill C. Buntin


Post  Posted 28 Jan 2018 6:24 am     Theory
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Reece Anderson had one written from the late 1980s or early 90s that was the most wonderful thing. I don't know if its still available, but if you could find "The Missing Link" it represents the "meat and potatoes" of the method Reece taught. For those who don't know, Reece was about the best teacher in the business. Between him and Jeff Newman, you could learn a lot of theory and put it to work, like, right now.

I would also echo Tony's comments.

The Big E also spoke of this with amazing brevity in his basic C6 course.

The theory part of the learning curve is steep. We have an advantage over other instrumentalists. Pedal steel is a fantastically theoretically correct and practical musical instrument.

~Bill~
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DG Whitley


Post  Posted 28 Jan 2018 9:51 am    
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I think Tony may have hit it on the head for me. I think I'm really trying to go too deep too fast. I know the I,IV, and V stuff, and I guess I should just back off and take a deep breath and stay there for a while, then take little steps going deeper.

Thank you all for your input, thoughts and support, deeply appreciated.


Last edited by DG Whitley on 29 Jan 2018 11:35 am; edited 2 times in total
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 29 Jan 2018 2:39 am    
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Without your Instrument, take a song you already know, one with more than 3 chords.

write down the chords. Place a number OVER the chords . In simplicity


1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8

C-D-E-F-G-A-B-C

You may find you know much more than you think

Sleepwalk, everyone knows Sleepwalk

C - AM - F - G

1 - 6 minor - 4 - 5

Every Ray Price song moves to the 2 Chord in the chorus. we all play it automatically but probably never think of it as a number.

And no I am not some genius or some crazy theory person, far from it , I just equate positions to numbers. Don't overthink this stuff, equate it to what you already know and do. Half the learning is already done !

And as Bill so correctly stated above, the Pedal Steel has already figured this stuff out for us ! As Jeff Newman once said, (well something like this ) I just need to know what key I'm in, the Steel does the rest ! Learn it ONCE and you learned it all ! Know your home position and relative chords . It's no longer chord names , it's now numbers in relationship to the root ( home position) .

Obviously that is worded in simplicity.
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Bill Sinclair


From:
Hagerstown, Maryland, USA
Post  Posted 29 Jan 2018 6:42 am    
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A couple of great "in a nutshell" posts by Tony.
I'll second the recommendation of fellow forumite Mike Perlowin's book mentioned above. I'm old school enough that I do better with a document I can hold than I do with the computer screen. Here's the link to his book on the Mel Bay website:
https://www.melbay.com/Products/98207EB/music-theory-in-the-real-world.aspx

It's probably on amazon as well. It was a huge help to me in understanding chord structure, recognizing intervals, etc. In fact, I need to reread it so maybe a little more will sink in. His writing is such that my brain doesn't glaze over in the first paragraph as theory discussions usually do. Smile
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 29 Jan 2018 10:21 am    
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https://www.teoria.com/index.php
This free or subscription site goes from the ground up in every facet of music theory. Well organized, very clearly written and graphically demonstrated, very comprehensive.
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Dale Rottacker


From:
Tacoma Washington, USA
Post  Posted 29 Jan 2018 11:07 am    
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Bill Sinclair wrote:
A couple of great "in a nutshell" posts by Tony.
I'll second the recommendation of fellow forumite Mike Perlowin's book mentioned above. I'm old school enough that I do better with a document I can hold than I do with the computer screen. Here's the link to his book on the Mel Bay website:
https://www.melbay.com/Products/98207EB/music-theory-in-the-real-world.aspx

It's probably on amazon as well. It was a huge help to me in understanding chord structure, recognizing intervals, etc. In fact, I need to reread it so maybe a little more will sink in. His writing is such that my brain doesn’t glaze over in the first paragraph as theory discussions usually do. Smile

Tony’s got the GIFT!!!
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Bill C. Buntin


Post  Posted 30 Jan 2018 4:09 am     Re: Music Theory Education Online?
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DG Whitley wrote:
Can anyone suggest an online source for a comprehensive music theory education? I don't necessarily mean a diploma of any type but something that will drill this into my head?

I don't mind paying for it, but I have tried this on my own and I am just confusing myself. All suggestions deeply appreciated, and thank you all in advance.


DG, I forgot to mention this. You are at THE BEST on line resource for music theory as applied to the Pedal Steel Guitar. Which is this forum. Again, echoing what Tony has already provided.

Theory in general is the same regardless of the chosen instrument. There are limitless resources to find "theory" that is accurate but biased, to some extent, toward a particular instrument. The most obvious example is piano. Next most obvious is probably guitar in general and then "band instruments", ie horns, sax, clarinet etc etc.

I am one of those "band kids" who graduated high school thinking that the public school system had made me into a super musician. After six years of Trumpet, Cornet and Tubas, I thought I "Knew it". I didn't know Squat. I knew how to read music and play music that was written for my instrument in front of me. That was it. I enrolled in music school in college, THEN my eyes were opened. I realized, I didn't know SQUAT.

Pedal Steel cured me of that, very quickly. That is why I say you are at THE BEST combination of resource and instrument to learn theory as quickly as possible. For instance, just an analysis of the standard tunings most of us use and talk about. Just understanding the instrument in its relative "standard" configuration is a HUGE theory lesson in and of itself.

More bluntly, I learned more music theory in 3 months with my first pedal steel than I did for 6 years as a school band kid.

Those forum members previously mentioned above and many others are here. In my opinion, a person can learn most all of the theory necessary, right here.

~Bill~
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post  Posted 30 Jan 2018 6:28 am    
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Mike Perlowin has some really good material on music theory available! Cool He's a member, and you can PM him for details.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 3 Feb 2018 2:20 am    
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Way back in the early 80s when I lived in Western Ct, I decided to go back to my roots, I took guitar lessons from the regional guitar and music guru , Linc Chamberland. Linc was extremely well known from NY to Boston and had the gift. He has since passed and when he did Guitar Player mag did a big spread on his career.

When I took lessons, $60 for a lesson back then, that was a ton , I wasn't even allowed to bring my guitar for the first 3 sessions. Each session was probably 2 hours, maybe longer. We talked music, songs etc. Linc sat at the piano for those first 3 lessons. the thing about it was, he used songs that I knew well, music that I was very familiar with, songs that I was already playing. He broke them down into their elements then went backwards to show me how much I already knew but never consciously applied to music theory. Then he ventured into progressions that I was familiar with but never played much if at all. A few very common American Songbook tunes. I knew what he was talking about. I was now looking at the guitar fret board across the neck in 4th as well as up and down. Whoa ! Who turned on that bright light !

I stayed with Linc for about 6 months , those 6 sessions have been following me around ever since. How we as players look at things is far different than how we may play something . Learning a song is not the same as learning how the song is constructed, or why. And it doesn't even have to be more than a 3 chord song with an added 2 chord now and then.

Uh..it goes to the D after the C...

But why ?

A teacher and how/what they are teaching is more important than the lesson in itself. If we don't understand the teacher or the lesson it's like learning the Japanese language where we will never repeat those words ever again in our lifetime.

One thing big which happened following those sessions with Linc, I turned into a Band Leader rather than a side man. I put my own band together, selected players that could actually play a few chords more than 3. The guitar player we hired, a really fine Country picker turned out to be a long time student of Lincs. We gelled immediately. This is how I met my wife as well. From the early 80's thru the late 80's before we moved to NC, that band was booked near 40 weekends a year for 4 or 5 years straight. The set list strayed from traditional/classic country into several genre's including some torch songs that my wife Bonnie was singing.


I was now booking the band, a Country Band, not just in the local clubs but in the Country Club/Yacht Club circuit up the shore from Greenwhich Ct to New Haven Ct. The money doubled. All it took was a few songs outside of the box. And we ate Prime Rib and Lobster at all those gigs too !


All of that never would have happened if I didn't take those 6 lessons. My entire outlook on music and how I looked at music changed 180 degrees. I cant say I was a better player but for certain I was a different player !

In simplicity , if the root is C, and I play the D chord, I didn't see it as the D chord anymore, it is now the 2 chord.

which just happens to be a D ! Imagine that Very Happy

I am not a band leader anymore, I am a sideman, I know this because I set up on the side ! ( stole that line from Buddy )
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Last edited by Tony Prior on 3 Feb 2018 7:02 am; edited 1 time in total
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Charlie McDonald


From:
out of the blue
Post  Posted 3 Feb 2018 6:34 am    
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To paraphrase someone's signature here, music isn't so fragile that theory can smash it.

Sitting and listening to a teacher lay chords out on a piano imprints the changes, hearing how the two minor fits, and how the six minor
fits with that, not to mention the progression to flat fifth, how that relates to the two chord, and on to the M7....
Yes, that's not the way to learn it, you learn by listening, in a way that's not intellectual

Bach laid out all the chords in the first piece in the Well-Tempered Clavichord (I think), The C Major, pretty much 'creating'
most of the chords used in jazz for a long time. Bach knew a lot of theory. Also Earnest Bovine.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 3 Feb 2018 6:58 am    
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Charlie McDonald wrote:


Sitting and listening to a teacher lay chords out on a piano imprints the changes, hearing how the two minor fits, and how the six minor
fits with that, not to mention the progression to flat fifth, how that relates to the two chord, and on to the M7....

Yes, that's not the way to learn it,

you learn by listening, in a way that's not intellectual


??? Thats not a way to learn ?
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Charlie McDonald


From:
out of the blue
Post  Posted 3 Feb 2018 8:21 am    
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What I meant was, my verbal description (as opposed to listening to it) isn't the way to learn it. I agree with your post heartily.
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Tony Prior


From:
Charlotte NC..
Post  Posted 3 Feb 2018 8:52 am    
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Charlie McDonald wrote:
What I meant was, my verbal description (as opposed to listening to it) isn't the way to learn it. I agree with your post heartily.


Laughing Very Happy
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Fred Treece


From:
California, USA
Post  Posted 3 Feb 2018 10:45 am    
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DG Whitley wrote:
I think I'm really trying to go too deep too fast. I know the I,IV, and V stuff, and I guess I should just back off and take a deep breath and stay there for a while, then take little steps going deeper.

I don’t believe it is possible to overeducate yourself, but there are questions regarding being able to apply what you have learned. For players, there is no true understanding without doing. Go as deep as you need to satisfy your curiosity, and at a pace that allows you to absorb the knowledge and apply it in your playing. There is literally no end to it.
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Mark van Allen


From:
Watkinsville, Ga. USA
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2018 5:42 am    
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Fred makes a great point. I have also found that many students are frightened of theory, that it looks too much like math...

Theory should be fun. It’s like any other language- would you want to visit Japan and only be able to ask where the bathroom is? Far more fun to be able to converse with someone about their interests, experiences, favorite foods, and whether they know Mitsuo Fugii... and as we all know, good music is a conversation.

While I agree we should basically only go as “deep” as we’re confortable with, the more we know and can apply, the more we can say, and the more fun we can have. Just one small example using the “2” major chord Tony has mentioned... if you realize the 2 is the “5” of the 5 chord of the key, you can use any old 5 chord trick you know (7ths, 9ths, diminished, augmented, etc.) over the 2 moving to the 5 in all those Price songs. This is why the 1 chord no pedals position with the B-Bb lever makes such a tasty, ear-twisting “2” chord, as we’ve heard BE use to such fine effect. When soloing over the 2, you can use any of those “5” chord ideas instead of just being stuck in major chord licks. If you play any swing or pop with a “1 6 2 5” movement you have another “5 of 5” with the 6-2 move, so a string of the same possibilities going as far out as altered dominants if you wish. Realizing this gives you 50 or a thousand new things to play over these “same old” changes.

That’s just fun to me!
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Charlie Hansen


From:
Halifax, NS Canada and Zephyrhills,FL
Post  Posted 4 Feb 2018 8:03 am    
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I'd like to thank Dave Magram for sending me his very concise lesson on music theory. It was very helpful in making me understand that I knew more about theory than I thought I did. It is, actually, very much like math which is how I figured things out for many years not knowing that it was theory that I was using.
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DG Whitley


Post  Posted 5 Feb 2018 1:07 pm    
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OK, I took some of the stuff Dave Magram sent me and the suggestions of all the others and this is what I came up with as far as diatonic scales. Hopefully, I have it right and if so, it does make sense to me on how things flow. I know there is more to it than this but you gotta start somewhere.




I know I could expand this even further but I am going to keep it simple for right now. Some people might complain about all the "enharmonic" stuff, but I think it important to know it backwards and forwards. Just my two cents.
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Jack Hanson


From:
San Luis Valley, USA
Post  Posted 5 Feb 2018 2:26 pm    
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If you are located anywhere near a Community College with a music program, check to see if you can sign up for a beginning theory class. I took one years ago and learned more in 10 weeks than in the previous 10 years.
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Dave Magram


From:
San Jose, California, USA
Post  Posted 5 Feb 2018 7:46 pm    
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DG Whitley wrote:
OK, I took some of the stuff Dave Magram sent me and the suggestions of all the others and this is what I came up with as far as diatonic scales. Hopefully, I have it right and if so, it does make sense to me on how things flow. I know there is more to it than this but you gotta start somewhere.

I know I could expand this even further but I am going to keep it simple for right now. Some people might complain about all the "enharmonic" stuff, but I think it important to know it backwards and forwards. Just my two cents.


Hi DG,

I’m glad that you found my handouts helpful.

That’s quite a comprehensive table you’ve put together showing all of the diatonic scales!
I’d suggest a correction to the left-most column where you’ve listed “I – Root Major”, “II – Minor”, etc. As I explained in Lesson #2 on chord progressions, Roman numerals are normally used to refer to chords, and Arabic numerals are used to refer to scale-tones. Since your table seems to be showing the scale-tones of the major and minor diatonic scales, those labels should just show Arabic numerals: “1, 2, 3, etc.”

If writing out that table helps you to understand how the diatonic scales were established, that’s great. But unless you plan to learn to sight-read standard musical notation, I’d never look at that table again. There is absolutely no need to memorize all of those letter names for the notes (or for the chords) in all of those different keys.
OTOH, it’s really useful to learn the intervals by scale-tone numbers: “2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc.” as I described in the handouts.

IMHO, the three most useful “music theory” things to learn:
1. Learn the intervals between the scale-tones in major and minor diatonic scales as numbers, not letters—as I suggest in Lesson 1. You only have to learn 7 intervals in each, as opposed to learning 168 letter names for all of the major and minor diatonic scales! (And there are actually several minor scales.)
- If you’ve watched any of Mickey Adams’ videos, he usually refers to the notes in a phrase he is demonstrating by scale-tone numbers, not by their letter names.

2. Learn the three “chord groups” of I, IV, V based on the three different inversions of the I chord, as I describe in Lesson 2 on Chord Progressions. If you learn those three “chord groups” by their numbers, you can play chords in any key up and down the neck without memorizing the letter names of any of the chords you are playing! And if you know where the I, IV, V chords are, it’s pretty easy to find the II, VI, or VII chord, isn’t it?
- Paul Franklin mentions “chord groups” in one of the teaser videos for his online “Franklin Method’ course.

3. And if you learned basic chord construction from Lesson 3 (Chord Construction), you can now figure out where the 1st, 3rd, and 5th scale tones are in each inversion of the I, IV, V chords in your chord groups. If you can find the 1st and 3rd and 5th scale tones, it’s pretty easy to find the 2nd and 4th scale-tones isn’t it? Or find the 6th and 7th scale-tones.
- Which means that now you can easily find any note of any scale in any key any place on the neck—without memorizing any letter names for the notes in the 12 scales!!

It's all "by the numbers"!
Pretty cool, eh?

Putting the three “puzzle pieces” above together was a “light bulb” moment for me, and for many people I’ve explained this to—I hope it is for you too!

- Dave
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