You must have often heard musicians say that they play by heart and ear and not by theory... But this statement seems to undermine the importance of learning music theory.
From a musical standpoint, theory allows you to understand what’s going on behind the melody.
If you just want to be a pop artist, then you can learn the I IV V pattern and churn out dozens of songs...
But if you want to have a deeper insight, then learning theory can boost your musical understanding.
As a musician, you must always go by what comes naturally to you.
Sure, if it works for you, then play by the ear by all means...
But even the most accomplished players have some idea of the theory.
If you wish to dive into the world of music, then you must familiarise yourself with theory.
Here, are 4 points explaining the importance of theory and then leave it up to you whether you wish to pursue the theoretical path or not.
You get exposed to new ideas
Learning theory allows you to explore new ideas. Without theory, there’s a high chance that your musical understanding would be limited.
So unless you are as gifted as Jimi Hendrix, there’s a high chance that you’d not go far in the field.
Learning and absorbing theory give you access to new musical dimensions to explore.
You’d understand the dynamics and can incorporate them into your melodies.
Learning theory will also help you develop the musical ear, and you can build up on the basics.
Exploring the fretboard becomes easier
You can see notes all over the board once you familiarise yourself with theory.
You'll be able to see the patterns, which makes it easier to play in any key you like.
Check out our video at the bottom of this article where Darryl explains how to work out the key a song is in!
You can also understand things on a foundational level. And that’ll equip you with the necessary knowledge to further build upon the base.
It will also give you the freedom to move up and down the fretboard.
There’s too much experimenting when you go by the ear. The theory will increase your knowledge bank faster.
Otherwise, it might take you years to figure out things on your own.
Communication with musicians becomes easier
Learning music theory is like learning a new language...
When you are in the company of fellow musicians, it’ll become easier for you all to communicate.
Especially if you play with a band or in an ensemble.
If you don’t know the language, you’re practically mute, no matter how good your musical sense is.
We don’t mean to scare you but getting hold of the basics can make your musical life easier—both on and off stage.
The better you know the theory, the better you’d be able to play and communicate.
Songwriting becomes … interesting!
With vast theoretical knowledge at your disposal, you can do so much with your songs. How creatively you blend your knowledge with your craftsmanship is totally left to you.
Music theory gives you countless ideas that you can sprinkle all over your song to give it a unique flavour.
You get to know which scales blend in to give you the perfect tonality, and you don’t have to spend countless hours figuring out things by ear.
Also, when you go deep into the theory, you encounter unique and unfamiliar ideas.
As a songwriter, this can make you stand out from the crowd if you put your knowledge to good use.
When it comes to music, there’s no right or wrong...
But learning music theory can speed up your musical journey. We’ve put forward the significance of theory for you.
At no point should you consider this the roadmap to your musical success. But learning theory can sure give your progress a solid boost.
To conclude, just do what feels right to you!