Whilst waiting for Justin to complete beginner Grade 3 and whilst consolidating my guitar playing skills I took a plunge and got some Music Theory books and read them. I’m also considering getting subscription for Justin’s music theory course. Now, the thing is, as I saw from the books I read (Complete Idiot’s Guide to Music theory and Music Theory for Dummies) it’s extremely deep area and has some topics that give some serious headaches. However I liked the fact that I learnt why I like some music and why I don’t like some other things. For example I realized that my animosity towards jazz stems from fact that it’s “free-form” music style with very little structure beneath it. It truly sounds chaotic to my ears. Now, I’m not saying it’s bad genre and don’t wanna hurt anyone feelings but I do find it chaotic music and one which I simply can’t stand. Also, I realized that most of the advanced concepts (9th chords, 11th’s, 13th’s and many other complex topics) apply heavily to jazz and mostly experimental/avant-garde genres. Also, I learnt about counterpoint and realized why the classical music that uses such technique doesn’t sound right to me. Having two different melodies in song simply do not sound nice to me. Perhaps I listened too much of pop/simple stuff, but doesn’t matter.
What I actually wanna ask is, since music theory is such a vast subject, what should I focus on learning? I would love to know how to write a song, weather for guitar or maybe one day piano, doesn’t matter. I would love to hear a song I like and play it back easily on my instrument. What I am not interested though is playing jazz, venturing into experimental genres, arranging for whole band or orchestration. Also, I must mention that playing music is and will remain a hobby, since I don’t plan to build career out of it. I would love to be able to play most of folk/pop/country, simple and famous classical compositions and other less experimental songs without any issue. Someone may ask why limit myself in learning music theory, but as I mention it’s my hobby and I have limited time for this hobby. It’s hard for me to imagine benefits of learning compound chords or 9th, 11th, 13th chords and some advanced topics which simply sound horrible to my ear and have little practical use outside jazz and experimental/avantgarde music. I would just waste my limited time on something I’d actually never use.
I found one answer on the internet which I’ll quote here, but I would love to hear opinion from someone who has similar aspirations and has learnt theory to confirm what music theory is actually beneficial for the aspirations I have.
This is the answer I found on the internet:
Here are a few categories/subcategories of theory you should probably have a grasp of, in order to make music that is theoretically grounded, but not mastubatorily complex, in order of (in my opinion) when you should learn them, as some follow from others:
scales keys chords and arpeggios modes
orchestration (which instruments to group together in a piece) sectioning unison and counterpoint motifs
subdivisions and meters syncopation time signatures polyrhythms
I’m sure others will have different opinions, this is just the rough idea of what I was taught in theory in my first year, where I began to get a grasp of how to write and understand music.