00:00
00:00

Does Music Theory Kill Creativity?

7,046 Views | 87 Replies
New Topic Respond to this Topic

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-23 07:33:53


At 4/23/13 05:53 AM, HalcyonicFalconX wrote: So here are my two cents on this:

tl;dr Music theory is just a tool.

Thank goodness for tl;dr! ;P

And what Breed said.


BBS Signature

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-23 10:30:30


I always thought there was too much confusion on this.

Music theory is not a prescribed method of writing music; it is a way to analyze existing music. The theory applied differs depending on the music analyzed and the period/culture from which it comes. All music builds on previously existing music and the composers/players attempted new things, which theorists later created systems of analysis to understand in a more clear and structural fashion. Yes, often these musicians used these systems knowingly, but this is not the chief role of theory, otherwise as people here have said we'd still be writing the same way they did centuries ago.

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-23 13:59:39


At 4/20/13 12:37 AM, Back-From-Purgatory wrote: I'm gonna admit right now, that I haven't read anyone's responses... because it's late, and I work in the morning... and I need to be in bed soon... but I wanna share my 2 cents anyways.

Ditto. I've read nothing here. Contrary to BFP however, I will refuse to contribute to this discussion at all as it is a waste of time and creative energy. Ya'll should be writing music. Who cares how you do it or even if it's any good. writewritewritewritewritewritewriteweuewiweuweiweuwiewiuewww wwww

write more.

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-23 21:48:18


At 4/23/13 05:53 AM, HalcyonicFalconX wrote: ...or even just create your own theory. Whatever works best for you.

Ahhh!!! Harry Parch!! Irregular Temperaments!!! Get it out! D:


My Music - Virtual Instruments - About Me

Orchestral Composer, Sample Library Developer

BBS Signature

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-23 22:34:02


At 4/23/13 09:48 PM, samulis wrote:
At 4/23/13 05:53 AM, HalcyonicFalconX wrote: ...or even just create your own theory. Whatever works best for you.
Ahhh!!! Harry Parch!! Irregular Temperaments!!! Get it out! D:

Worked for him. xP

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-24 00:11:39


As others have said theory is just another tool to use. The creativity is entirely up to the individual. History is full of composers and musicians that had roughly the same background and education but most faded into obscurity because they didn't have that "it" factor to capitalize on their knowledge.

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-24 13:40:43


great thread. lots of interesting opinions.

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-24 16:32:10


Does grammar kill poetry?

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-24 21:18:55


At 4/24/13 04:32 PM, sorohanro wrote: Does grammar kill poetry?

poetry does not need much grammar to begin with-- it is an art form, as is music composition. Good comparison


------->>> Post a random word ------->>>New gons

BBS Signature

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-25 22:28:07


When learning music theory, especially via school/university, it may seem that it caps your ability to be creative, however one this to keep in mind, someone brought this up earlier, is that doing excercises where you have to meet certain criteria, and things have to be a certain way, is purely intended as a teaching tool so you understand how theory works, and to learn a skillset to apply to practical works.

I believe that music theory is very important to understand, and if you say "I make music, and I don't need any theory to know what sounds good", then guess what, you are in fact using, and understanding the theory of making music.

After composing and producing for a number of years, I took a music theory course that included classical, jazz, and popular music. The first thing I started to notice was that I already knew most of what was being covered, however I just didn't have the words to explain it or knew what it was called. All in all, I took a lot away from the course, even to the point where it improved my dj skills (relative minors: very important).

A formal course wouldn't be the best way for everyone to learn theory, but at the end of the day, all music theory actually is, is explaining why (blank) sounds good and why (blank) sounds bad. If you're already making music, my suggestion is to look up theory in the areas that you're having troubles with, and looking more into Audio Engeneering / Recording Theory, will have more applicable value to you.

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-25 23:08:40


At 4/25/13 10:28 PM, Ryskie wrote:
I believe that music theory is very important to understand, and if you say "I make music, and I don't need any theory to know what sounds good", then guess what, you are in fact using, and understanding the theory of making music.

That's true because I taught myself about how to make a chord from everything I learned on my instrument. I just kept practicing and listening to music to hear what other people were doing and years later I started to understand it all better. They key like you said is to study what you are having trouble with or don't know (which is true about anything really)

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-25 23:47:58


I think the real question here is "does creativity kill music theory?"

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-26 04:33:45


At 4/25/13 11:47 PM, SineRider wrote: I think the real question here is "does creativity kill music theory?"

Toalmostquote Sorohanro:

Does poetry kill grammar?

:P

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-26 04:39:15


At 4/26/13 04:33 AM, HalcyonicFalconX wrote:
At 4/25/13 11:47 PM, SineRider wrote: I think the real question here is "does creativity kill music theory?"
Toalmostquote Sorohanro:

Does poetry kill grammar?

P

Yes... Yes it does.


Audio/BBS Mod

News: Bye bye Skype - Music: Tonight Will Be The Night- Art: Kira

\/\/\/ Click the sig for fun times! \/\/\/

BBS Signature

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-26 04:52:10


At 4/26/13 04:39 AM, Back-From-Purgatory wrote:
At 4/26/13 04:33 AM, HalcyonicFalconX wrote:
At 4/25/13 11:47 PM, SineRider wrote: I think the real question here is "does creativity kill music theory?"
Toalmostquote Sorohanro:

Does poetry kill grammar?

P
Yes... Yes it does.

Not if you're Shakespeare or Wordsworth or Longfellow. <3

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-26 12:46:58


At 4/25/13 11:47 PM, SineRider wrote: I think the real question here is "does creativity kill music theory?"

Mind... Blown.


Never stop creating.

BBS Signature

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-27 05:47:43


There are some people who learn a little bit of music theory and assume that they have to rigidly stick to the rules, and their music surely suffers as a result.

By the same token, others are just as stubborn in their decision to not even consider learning any theory, and their music suffers just as much.

Music theory is a tool, and like any tool, it can be used or misused. But just because some amateurs limit themselves to what they learn in music theory does not make the tool itself bad.

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-27 06:03:52


At 4/27/13 05:47 AM, BlazingDragon wrote: There are some people who learn a little bit of music theory and assume that they have to rigidly stick to the rules, and their music surely suffers as a result.

By the same token, others are just as stubborn in their decision to not even consider learning any theory, and their music suffers just as much.

Music theory is a tool, and like any tool, it can be used or misused. But just because some amateurs limit themselves to what they learn in music theory does not make the tool itself bad.

^This, as has been repeated by users countless times.

So really, whether creativity kills music theory is out of the question. Creativity would be in harmony with music theory if it is pleasing to the ears. Creativity would only kill music theory if one's definition of creativity is scraping the chalkboard with his nails.

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-27 06:10:58


At 4/27/13 06:03 AM, TroisNyxEtienne wrote: So really, whether creativity kills music theory is out of the question. Creativity would be in harmony with music theory if it is pleasing to the ears. Creativity would only kill music theory if one's definition of creativity is scraping the chalkboard with his nails.

Music theory is a tool to make sense of music that has already been written. That being the case, it would seem that creativity creates theory, not kills it. New music will make way for new theory to analyze it.

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-27 07:34:52


Well, theory can never do any harm because it is theory. It can help you to find the best solutions quickly when you're stuck and "kill creativity" is the kind of argument I often hear from the people that are just too lazy or conceited to try and spend some time on self-education.

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-27 12:27:33


At 4/26/13 04:33 AM, HalcyonicFalconX wrote:
At 4/25/13 11:47 PM, SineRider wrote: I think the real question here is "does creativity kill music theory?"
Toalmostquote Sorohanro:

Does poetry kill grammar?

P

i c wut you did there, HFX. :P

I think the question is "do poets kill grammar?" tbh. In a system where people are constantly pushing to call themselves 'out of the box' because that sounds like a good thing to put on your bio (right?), the concrete understanding of what an "ostinato" is isn't known by most producers of popular music genres, but every single one of them uses them ad nauseam. Ostinatos were in use hundreds of years ago, yet anyone who hasn't taken theory or, like me, bothered to search up on them after seeing people talk about mine ("what the heck is an ostinato?" I wondered for the longest time), would think "oh, this is so modern!"

It's kinda like fashion is sometimes. Old trends come back from the depths of history and the ignorant think they are new.

Let's face it- most pop music has the same level of compositional complexity as any medieval piece, yet we don't go around listening to medieval music (probably because Crumhorns aren't a very good equivalent to distortion-heavy electric guitar). We are more or less repeating ourselves in an endless ostinato of time- the popular music is always that which is immediate, simple, prescribed, and can be created without concrete understanding of theory (you can HEAR what comes next; you don't necessarily need to know a lot about reading music or writing music to play or create it, etc.), and the more reserved and revered music continually grows out of that in side-stems that constantly over-ride each other (100 years ago it was the start of chromaticism, 50 years ago it was the start of electronic music, now its god knows what).

So, is it the people who push the more reserved and revered material towards "outside the box" that kill Theory? Is it also the masses of people who simply create by ear who kill it Theory?


My Music - Virtual Instruments - About Me

Orchestral Composer, Sample Library Developer

BBS Signature

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-27 22:29:54


At 4/23/13 10:30 AM, NickPerrin wrote: I always thought there was too much confusion on this.

Music theory is not a prescribed method of writing music; it is a way to analyze existing music. The theory applied differs depending on the music analyzed and the period/culture from which it comes. All music builds on previously existing music and the composers/players attempted new things, which theorists later created systems of analysis to understand in a more clear and structural fashion. Yes, often these musicians used these systems knowingly, but this is not the chief role of theory, otherwise as people here have said we'd still be writing the same way they did centuries ago.

This.

There is a huge misconception that music theory was/is designed for composers to use as tools for composition. Nick has it right -- music theory and music composition are quite separate subjects when boiled down to their core. Theory is derived from analysis of composition.

With that said, some theorists compose, and some composers draw from systems of music theory to provide a foundation to lay their ideas upon. But the idea that the two are conjoined concretely is fundamentally flawed.


BBS Signature

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-28 17:15:23


At 4/27/13 10:29 PM, DavidOrr wrote: There is a huge misconception that music theory was/is designed for composers to use as tools for composition.

The sad thing is that the misconception is being conveyed by music teachers.

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-28 17:23:01


At 4/28/13 05:15 PM, HalcyonicFalconX wrote:
At 4/27/13 10:29 PM, DavidOrr wrote: There is a huge misconception that music theory was/is designed for composers to use as tools for composition.
The sad thing is that the misconception is being conveyed by music teachers.

Guess they'll have to learn the hard way.

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-28 19:15:54


OR we could make an educational movie to teach them!

*imagines the intro*

*dark screen with epic music*

"Before there was Music Theory... there was nothing... and then..."

*flashes to scene of two cavemen in a room*

"Ugg, what are you doing?"

"Ugg bang log with stick!"

"Why do Ugg bang log with stick?"

"Ugg like sound! He think it sound like B-7 +13!"

any takers? No? Darn...


My Music - Virtual Instruments - About Me

Orchestral Composer, Sample Library Developer

BBS Signature

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-28 19:19:19


At 4/28/13 07:15 PM, samulis wrote: any takers? No? Darn...

Then what makes music theory?

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-28 19:36:36


At 4/28/13 07:15 PM, samulis wrote: OR we could make an educational movie to teach them!

*imagines the intro*

*dark screen with epic music*

"Before there was Music Theory... there was nothing... and then..."

*flashes to scene of two cavemen in a room*

"Ugg, what are you doing?"

"Ugg bang log with stick!"

"Why do Ugg bang log with stick?"

"Ugg like sound! He think it sound like B-7 +13!"

any takers? No? Darn...

I dig. *raises hand*

Innovation brings forth music theory, and theory is a result of what has been tried, tested and proven highly useful again and again.

Response to Does Music Theory Kill Creativity? 2013-04-29 19:14:42


It feels good to be back to these forums after a year and I'll chip in my two cents.

There is no right or wrong answer to your question but for me personally learning music theory expanded my creativity tenfold as it allows you to have a foundation on which to start on and an understanding of why trying certain chords/notes/keys/progressions sound the way they do.

Let me try to give a VERY vague idea of how music theory improved my creativity.

When starting to look into music theory I began by learning about the major scale and in particular the C major scale as it is considered the "easiest" of the keys to understand because on a keyboard it consists of nothing but the white keys.

We learn that the C major scale consists of the notes:

C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C

and from here we can already begin to compose a song.

If I want to compose in the key of C I could select the notes C,F,G to create a chord progression (I,IV,V) and then create a melody or solo line over that using only the notes from the C major scale and for the most part (there are exceptions) it will sound pleasant on the ear and like it "fits" in that place.

If the next step was to learn about minor scale and the use of pentatonic scales then we would discover that the relative minor (a scale that consists of the same notes as its major counterpoint but beginning on a different note) of C major scale is A minor.

Because I don't want to ramble on forever I'll skip forward a bit and we discover that the A pentatonic minor scale consists of the notes:

A,C,D,E,G,A

These are the same notes that are in the C major scale (no sharps or flats) and like before we could choose the notes A,D,E for a progression and solo over it using only the notes from this A minor pentatonic scale and things will sound pleasant again.

At this point the argument comes into place that knowing this theory has hindered my creativity because rather than using my ears and trying new things (random notes?) I'm afraid to stray from the particular set of notes in the C major scale because that is "the rules".

It is at this point where continuous study of music theory begins to encourage and push your creativity. As we delve further into music theory and learn about scales other than the commonly known major and minor scales that provide us the ability to add new emotions to our songs.

If I take the A blues scale for example which consists of the notes:

A,C,D,Eb,E,G

we can already see that it contains a note (Eb) that does not "belong" to the C major or A minor scale that had been presented earlier. What's interesting though is that if I was to play the same A,D,E progression from before but now solo over the progression using the A blues scale instead of the A pentatonic minor I will discover that the Eb note is creating this strange and yet beautiful/mournful "clash" with the A minor chord progression.

IâEUTMve rambled on here and yet been incredibly vague in general, but this is only the very beginning of understanding enough music theory that I really believe encourages your creativity and lets you know why you can use certain notes from outside a particular key to create vivid emotions in your music. IâEUTMm of the belief that if you are serious about a particular field of music then why wouldnâEUTMt you want to learn absolutely every possible thing you could about it whether that includes sight reading, theory, improvisation and composing to any technical processes.