Music theory can be extremely complex and it is one topic that most musicians try to avoid studying. Although you do not need to learn music theory to play guitar, it is important to understand the basic concepts of how music is created.
Understanding how melodies, harmonies, and rhythms all come together to form music will ultimately benefit you as a guitarist and a musician.
It can also provide insights into chord progressions, melody writing, and harmonic analysis, among other things.
Can you play guitar without theory?
To be an excellent guitar payer knowing and studying music theory will take you a long way. Although there are plenty of professional musicians and guitar players included that have not studied music theory and still manage to find success in their musical careers, studying theory is always important.
It allows you to create a solid knowledge foundation upon which you can build on. Understanding complex chord structures to scales, and even more complicated subjects will benefit you overall.
Music theory is also extremely helpful for guitar players that eventually want to compose their own songs. As it gives them insights into how music is built based on harmony, melody, and rhythm. Although you can still be a great guitar player without studying theory, it would definitely be extremely helpful to do so.
Which guitar players need to study music theory?
Although most casual guitar players can avoid studying music theory, there are some specific types of music that require a deep understanding of musical theory. If you want to play classical or jazz guitar, then you will need to learn music theory.
You can obviously play classical and jazz music without studying music theory, but you will struggle to keep up with your peers that have decided to learn music theory.
Do you need to learn music theory to make music?
You do not need to learn music theory to make music, however, you will be at a disadvantage. For example, if you study music theory, you will be knowledgeable about chord progressions, and this makes it easy to compose songs and arrangements.
While there are plenty of musicians making music that has never studied musical theory, you always benefit from understanding music in an abstract way and using that to leverage your playing.
Some of the most famous and accomplished guitar players in history were largely self-taught or learned only through playing with others, or by ear.
Does music theory apply to guitar?
Music theory is a complex academic field that applies to all types of music, and musical instruments. You may even learn music theory without playing a musical instrument since it is an abstract subject that can be understood by anyone without a musical background.
Guitar players especially those that want to play something more than barre chords, and a few pop songs will benefit a lot from applying music theory to their guitar playing. As we have mentioned this is also especially true if you want to compose songs on guitar.
Music theory can also be applied to improvisation and soloing, which is a great way of expressing yourself through your playing.
Do most guitar players read music?
No, most guitar players do not read music or have a deep understanding of music theory. One of the reasons for that is that studying music theory is hard, and it takes a long time to become good at it. Reading sheet music also requires a lot of practice, and for a guitar player to be able to read and play guitar at the same time takes a lot of effort and practice.
Additionally, you still need to apply those theoretical concepts to your playing, and this takes time to implement and learn. Most guitar players also learn by playing songs, and ultimately they do not wish to become professional musicians. For that reason, they also do not see the need to develop their skills, especially when it comes to music theory.
Is music theory necessary for guitar songwriting?
Although music theory is not necessary to be able to write songs on guitar, it can definitely help a lot. One of the reasons is that if you study music theory you will be aware of chord progressions.
Chord progressions are well-known relations between chords, that form specific harmonic tones, and have been used a lot to write some of the most iconic songs ever composed. Knowing chord progressions will make it a lot easier to compose guitar songs, and then to know exactly what scale to use for the melody.
Does music theory make you better at guitar?
Clearly music theory can make you not only a better guitar player but also a better musician. Especially if you are traveling around and playing with plenty of musicians, it is important to know music theory.
Two musicians that are unable to communicate because they do not speak the same language will always be able to communicate through music. Although you can also do it without studying music theory, it will certainly help.
Knowing music theory also allows you to practice more advanced musical concepts, that would otherwise be nearly unreachable if you do not study music.
Can I learn music theory on my own?
You can learn music theory on your own, either online through videos, or courses, or even with the help of some theory books. However, just like learning guitar with a teacher is beneficial, the same applies to music theory. Especially some of the more advanced concepts that can be hard to master, and fully understand.
It can also be difficult to apply all of the abstract musical concepts you learn on your instrument, and for that reason having someone to guide you can be very good.
Why is guitar theory so hard?
There are a few reasons why guitar theory can be one of the most difficult parts of learning guitar.
First, it combines many different aspects such as music theory, and guitar practice. It can be difficult to study both theory and practice guitar while keeping a full-time job, at least if you want to learn guitar fast.
Additionally, you will also need to practice reading music constantly, and this takes time, effort, and dedication. It can be extremely boring to sit in front of sheet music and read it every day.
When guitar players start learning it is also difficult to connect the theoretical knowledge with the practical side of playing guitar.
Is music theory really necessary?
While music theory is not really necessary for creating or enjoying music, it can be a great way for musicians to improve their music and knowledge. The power of combining your experience on the instrument, with your theoretical musical knowledge is one of the ways of taking your playing to the next level.
Studying music theory also allows you to understand songs better, and how exactly they are composed. Making it easy to pick up songs by ear, and allowing you to be a better composer.
I have been playing guitar for the past 15 years, and my knowledge and passion for guitars prompted me to start Guitaresque to share my knowledge, tips, and tricks with other guitar players. The sole purpose of this website is to help and inspire guitar players worldwide, to improve their playing and their love for guitars.