So, You wanna Learn Music Theory...

... Good! When I was starting out as a musician, I was the typical, "I don't need music theory... it will just stifle my creativity", kind of guy. What an idiot! I have been studying music theory for most of the past 4 years, and I kick myself because if I had learned it as a kid it would be second-nature to me now.

If this sounds like you, and you're inclined to begin (or continue) the journey towards mastering music theory, you'll find out in short-order (if you haven't already) that the internet is full of information - some of it is really good... most of it is really bad!!!

I think I can help you cut through a lot of the crap. Although what I am recommending costs money, I paid for the following because it was actually worth the cost after fruitlessly poking around the internet for about a year looking for "good, but free stuff":

  1. Join www.Groove3.com. This site provides in-depth video tutorials on just about every music-related software package out there. If you are producing music on a computer, you already own software covered by this site's tutorials. In addition, it provides instruction on music-related topics which, of course, include music theory. Eli Krantzberg has music theory courses on Groove3 that take you through basic major scale theory, and then follows up with an advanced jazz-theory course.  I highly recommend these. Eli's approach is really great, and he's a musician's musician... you know... the kind of guy you'd love to be in a band with. NOTE: GROOVE3 ALWAYS HAS A SALE JUST AFTER THANKSGIVING THAT LASTS FOR ABOUT 2 WEEKS. JOIN THEN AND ONLY PAY $100 FOR ONE YEAR (SAVE ABOUT $100 ON THE ANNUAL SUBSCRIPTION).

  2. Tom Quayle, an in-demand British Jazz-Fusion Guitarist, sells video courses covering a myriad of advanced music-theory topics. His courses assume that you already know major scale theory, so start there before going to his site (again, Groove3 is a great place to start) . I would highly recommend all of them, but only after you've gotten basic major scale theory under your belt. You can save yourself some money if you pay for all of them up-front. I didn't, because I needed to check a course or two out before I knew if they were worth it. If you can afford to do it, pay the $350 up front for all of them - I'm telling ya, they're worth every penny. If not, no worries... each one is like $35 individually.

 

Do them in this order:

  1. Visualizing the Fretboard​: This is the most amazing method of fretboard visualization I've encountered. I'm far from mastering it, but it has already helped me immensely as a guitarist and a songwriter.

  2. Jazz Harmony - Playing Changes: Takes major scale theory and adds 7ths. This is must know information whether you are learning to improvise or are just a songwriter like me. If you've taken Eli's courses on Groove3, you'll know quite a bit of this, but Tom's course goes well beyond Eli's - especially for you guitarists.

  3. Guide to Melodic Minor: Tom teaches melodic minor scale theory as a way to expand your major scale harmonization. You might even consider doing this one first! That's how I did it... but knowing what I know now, I'd do it in the order I list here.

  4. Diminished Scale Harmony: Teaches you how to play both inside and outside melodies to the underlying harmony. Pretty cool!

  5. Soloing Over Dominant 7ths: Fundamental knowledge for improvisation, but also for song-writers.

  6. Modal Tutorial: THE BEST modal tutorial online IMHO. He totally cuts through all of the "learn the MOOOOODES and CHANGE your LIFE" hype you hear everywhere else. When you're done with this lesson, you'll understand everything about modes, when and when not to use them, and the difference between functional and non-functional harmony.

  7. Legato Tutorial: Wanna learn to fly around the fretboard? Then go through this 4-part course. It's really challenging!!! But really great!!! I have studied this course a bit, but it's not really my thing to learn to shred - I'm happy writing music and leaving the shredding to someone else ;).

 

He has many more I haven't listed and they are great, but the ones listed above are the meat of it. I have been studying all of Tom's courses at a pace of roughly 5 hours a week for about 2.5 years, and I am FAR from mastering any of it. If you are diligent in studying these courses (and once you buy them they are yours, you download them and thus can watch them any number of times you want), you will learn TONS of extremely useful theory. I have these videos on my phone, and watch them whenever I have time to. I really liked that all of these lessons are guitar based. It sticks to my ribs way better than theory taught on the piano.

I could NOT recommend these more highly. 'Nuff said.

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