How easily can you express your feelings through music? Are the musical connections you create strong? Can you use your knowledge of music theory, scales and chords to manipulate how your listener feels?
There's nothing more frustrating than having a "feeling for a song" and not being able to get it out. When a musician has a strong connection to a lot of emotional thoughts about a life experience they become inspired. But, once you're inspired the real trick is to take those feelings of inspiration and produce music that reflects well through those ideas.
COPY THIS - COPY THAT...
Generally, guitar students will copy songs from their favorite players. They pick a song that inspires them, and then they work on that song for hours and hours until they can play it. And, this is perfectly fine. However, it doesn't offer them very much by way of learning specifically "why" that song produced those types of feelings within them. This is where music theory comes into the framework.
Playing what another guitarist has done can be a lot of fun, but it won't help you gain the control that comes from thoroughly comprehending music. When you learn why certain chords 'flow well' from one into another. And, when we learn how certain musical scales will end up leaving us feeling in a specific emotional way - then you gain the real secrets to developing how to express more feelings in your own music.
WHY THOSE CHORDS - WHY THOSE SCALES...
Selecting certain scales to play or certain chords to use has more to do with emotions than you might think.
A scale has a set series of tones that interact with all of the other tones around the tonic. And, these tones will cause us to feel certain ways under a group of chord changes. Even learning something as simple as "How to Harmonize the Major Scale," will go a long way to allowing a musician to gain more control over musical sound and the way it affects others.
For example, the Natural Minor scale has a certain sad, negative musical effect, but Dorian mode changes that effect with its raised 6th. Learn more about Dorian Mode.
Phrygian mode changes the minor effect yet again (with its unique lowered 2nd). And, it also helps to keep in mind that these tones (that are moved around scale to scale) also affect the chords that are related to each of them.
Learn more about Phrygian Mode.
THE COLOR OF SOUND...
Sound actually does have a color. There is a shade of emotion for how every group of chords will fit together and how the scales are used under them.
Some scales produce a sad feeling and other scales will produce a happy effect. This means that a musician needs to learn what these effects are and how they can be applied to control the listener's emotions within songs.
Expression of sound is translated through notes, through intervals and through larger harmony. Once we start recognizing these effects and how we can control them, we can better comprehend how we want to apply these sounds in music. My video lesson, "Melody Notes from Chords," helps with explaining this topic.
It is important that these tools are well understood and that we have tested them in our music. Once they can be applied into a piece of music - at will (in order to generate the desired musical effects), we can start to take more control over how our listeners respond to music.
Remember, music is fluid and it has an up-side and a down-side (controlled largely by intervals). When music feels up, it applies specific intervals and patterns, (generally major or possibly augmented).
When music is dark and negative it will generally contain more minor or diminished interval combinations. Learn these sounds and develop as much control over them as possible.
MUSIC THEORY - THE KEY TO MUSICAL EXPRESSION...
So, what exactly is the benefit of knowing music theory and how can it become a tool for organizing the musical production for greater feeling over our music composition?
Music theory is an involved topic, (and takes many years to learn well). Music theory relates to having an understanding for how notes react within keys and chord progressions.
Once we understand how to apply the elements of music theory, will we ultimately have more control over our listeners emotional effects.
NOTE: The "Music Theory" section of my website contains a nice collection of free lesson videos (most come with handouts) on the topic of music theory.
Uneducated musicians will often feel like music theory is just a bunch of rules that they will "have to" follow - and show me an artist that wants more rules - I completely understand why this is so unappealing.
Sadly, this is not an accurate break down of what music theory is all about, since music theory is more like a box of tools with names for musical sounds and nothing more.
Once a musician begins to consider music theory as a group of names and options for taking music into various stylistic and emotional directions, the musician can better control the music that they compose.
Music theory contains the tools that help with connecting one’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions together through musical expression.
Those tools allow us to use our natural musical creativity to recreate our emotions through sound.
VIDEO SERIES: My "Two-Part Developing Creativity" series is an excellent way to start learning more about expanding your own potential for creative ability.
What it all boils down to is, the more we understand about music notes, names of musical processes, harmonic sound, keys and notes, intervals and chords, etc... the more we'll be able to control how well our music affects others.
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