LearnJazzPiano.com archives: don't you just hate the theory musicians
buttons -- 02/10/2004, 10:26:02 -- #876
have you noticed there's always someone on here who takes the theory way too deep and tries to sound clever.  the theory came after the improvisation, never forget that.people talk of jazz scales,rubbish! the one scale you ever need to know is the chromatic - there is no such thing as a wrong note! follow your heart, not the books.

p.s. makes me laugh when these so called clever theorists always include the root note in their scale.  i can't think of anything far more boring than playing a c with a c chord. far better to play a eb and resolve it to e or d, saying that, why even resolve it?

Scot -- 02/10/2004, 10:39:09 -- #882
Well, there's something to be said for having really strong ears, and yes, the theory did come after the improvisation (in jazz, that is, classical theory has been around forever).

So how evil is theory?  Does it hurt someone's playing to understand what goes on behind the scenes?  Seems to me that most of the great players around today also have a very good knowledge of theory.

But here's the deal.  How many of us are thinking about theory while we're performing?  I doubt very much that theory comes into play while most of us are improvising on stage.  At that point it's about the sound, and that's a big similarity between contemporary players and the old guys.

You should also keep in mind that guys like Dizzy, Parker, Monk, etc, all worked out things that maybe they didn't know the names of, but it was theory.  They understood when and where they could use certain scales and such, and it came from practicing and studying what other guys were playing.  

Theory and improvisation are two different things, really. It's like a martial artist.  Once you get into the ring, you're not thinking of forms, moves, or anything like that. You're going to let your body take over and hope that all your practice of forms and moves and martial arts theory has sunk in enough so that you can counter your opponent.

Same with music.

Musicians as a whole are better these days than they were back in the 40's.  There are exceptions, obviously, but the kids coming out of New York and Berkely and other places can play circles around the guys from back then. Maybe they don't have the soul yet, but they know more about what the old guys used to play than those old guys themselves.

Theory is a tool used to help understanding of music.  It's a way to force yourself to learn new sounds and how they can relate to the music you're playing.  

Follow your heart- good advice.  When performing, always follow the heart and make great music.  But when you are practicing, nothing wrong with figuring out how a phrygian scale works over a 7th chord, nothing wrong with practicing melodic minor ascending scales, nothing wrong with practicing intervalic exercises in all keys, nothing wrong with reading about what Stravisnky did to make his sounds.  Theory will not hurt you as a musician- lack of theory won't hurt you either, but it's definitely nice to have a solid understand of what makes music work behind the scenes  instead of just relying on your ears all the time.

7 -- 02/10/2004, 10:47:07 -- #885
Scot,
Barry had a post here that just dissappeared!!!


Buttons,

Don't you just hate theory musicians?

Yes, I do hate myself sometimes. Especially first thing in the morning after an all night drunk.


All girls need to know about a car is where's the gas pedal, the brake pedal and the steering wheel.

A man WANTS to know how things work. A man doesn't mind getting down and greasy and dirty checking out the inner workings of his car.


Oh, and sweetie that cute little red light thingy flashing on your dashboard isn't there just to be pretty.

It's telling you that you have to stop RIGHT NOW and put some oil in your engine.

But that's all right, honey, you just keep on driving until it stops, maybe some nice man will come along and help you out.

7

Mike -- 02/10/2004, 12:02:22 -- #888
You are over reacting Buttons.  Balance is the key.

Scot -- 02/10/2004, 18:01:13 -- #904
7- are you sure you saw that post in this thread?  To have a thread disappear is very very weird. It shouldn't happen..

Mike -- 02/10/2004, 21:17:53 -- #906
By the way Buttons ,... Clever theory you have about playing a C over a C chord.

7 -- 02/10/2004, 23:35:49 -- #910
Scot

RE: the vanished post


Ask Barry. He'll tell you.

It was very eloquent too.

It was there and then poof!

Look at how many responses the forum says there are to this post and then count how many there actually are.

7

g -- 02/11/2004, 00:12:19 -- #911
Actually Scot, I wrote something in reply to this thread before, and it never arrived!

stevo -- 02/11/2004, 05:52:15 -- #915
I played with a band for the last 8 months that had 2 guitar players, drums, and a singer ( who was very good). I was the keyboard added. These Guy would say to me .'you to much by the Book' because I would want to make charts. 'You have to hear um brah' was another.  What they were doing was boiling down the songs to 3 chords and letting the singer pick up all the passing tones and changes.
is this common? It's a Bar Band with 200 song list. I have also been told  it's the classic war between the guitarist and keyboardist   ( play by ear. vs  by the book)
What do ya think?
stevo

tomwrush -- 02/11/2004, 06:57:49 -- #919
Just a quick response about playing a C over C chord. Have you ever listened to any jazz music? By the sounds of it you never have. It also sounds very much like you have never studied the masters' improvisations.
Peace,
tom

sid -- 02/11/2004, 07:36:43 -- #922
Hate isn't a nice word to use in connection with music.  There was a rock/pop group called "Johnny Hates Jazz", a title that's depressing not because of what it says about jazz but because of what it tells us about Johnny's anger management.  Do any of the visitors to this forum really *hate* this or that style, or such-and-such a musician's approach?  Lots of music (including an awful lot of jazz) isn't my cup of tea at all, and there are plenty of performers I don't particularly care for.  But hate?  Come on - it's just music for heaven's sake.

sid

(who probably falls into the hated "theory musician" category)

Mike -- 02/11/2004, 08:56:22 -- #924
lol....   Yeh, from a  definetly hated musician to another I do hate some music.  But watching the movie "Anger Management" has changed my life.  Now I have discovered the wonderful music of Soundheim and Berstein "I feel pretty".  I always liked the band name "Johnny Hates Jazz".  I'm currently rehearsing my new band called "Mikey hates Kenny G"  It's ok to hate, but if you do, you should have Anger buddies.  (people to talk it out with)  Another reason this forum is so good for us to have.  It is better that Buttons choose to discuss it here rather than go into a jazz club with an ouzi.  Better we read his point of view here than in a post murder trial interview.  This is good solid anger management at work.

jordo -- 02/11/2004, 09:19:16 -- #928
If "Buttons" was looking for sympathetic readers I think he posted at the wrong site.  Why doesn't he just say, "Don't you just hate nearly everyone who posts on this forum?"
Nice reply by Scot, though.  Very diplomatic.  Makes a good moderator.

g -- 02/11/2004, 13:32:17 -- #939
I think, as usual, 7's is the post that shows insight.

Rick -- 02/11/2004, 14:01:03 -- #943
erm...

Mike -- 02/11/2004, 14:12:10 -- #944
and there I was thinking everyone was going to want to join my new band "Mikey hates Kenny G"..... there goes that brilliant theory....
damn I am always theorizing too much.

Mike -- 02/11/2004, 17:52:29 -- #965
The more I think about it.... I seriously wonder if I would get more gigs if when club owners ask me.... "So you play Jazz Piano?"   If I responded  "  No   I hate Jazz!!!"   I wonder if I would get more gigs that way.  I wish I could afford to experiment with it for a while.

Billy Miller -- 02/11/2004, 20:04:26 -- #967
The only kind of musician that makes me mad are the ones who have no musical ear whatsoever. They take lessons as a kid, and learn some poop, but really dont know jack crap about it. You set some sheet music in front of them and off they go, playing away like they own the place. But, you ask them to jam and they cant do jack crap...Grr...and the next step up, the people who CANT play a song without a lead sheet. They cant memorize the order of 6 different chords for long enough to play it, and to make it worse, they cant hear the changes if you take their sheet from them. No ear for music...why do people like that call themselves musicians? Thats like calling someone a plumber who dosent have a plunger! The most basic of all  tools for music is your ear, and if you dont have that, what do you have?

Mike -- 02/11/2004, 21:14:16 -- #969
alls I know is .... I hate Jazz piano.......  I dont know why anyone
would want to learn about it.......  what am I doing here????????
ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Barry -- 02/12/2004, 03:09:09 -- #975
I did have a post here Scot and it was visible yesterday and it's just vanished - that is frankly bizarre!

Let me know if you find out why that happened because it's very strange!!!!

Scot -- 02/12/2004, 05:03:32 -- #977
I downloaded the datafiles and have begun digging around.  Hard to say why it happened, very odd, but a new system is bound to have a few bugs. Your message is still probably in the database, it just isn't showing up for some reason...

Whacky -- 02/12/2004, 06:35:35 -- #987
that is bizzare...I remember reading Barry's post...maybe there is some AI scripting hiding in the code?

orpheusoverdrive -- 02/12/2004, 07:07:28 -- #989
comment to Billy M

Yeah I hear ya but a lot of the sheet music keyboardists can't really help it. A lot of keyboardists start as pianists and pianists are generally taught to play only what's in front of em. I've had scale tests and sight reading tests but never any jam tests. If  no one teaches the art of jamming then the only way to learn to is by teaching yourself. some ppl just can't do it.

RobM -- 02/12/2004, 08:44:08 -- #991
Barry's articulate response to Buttons is under Julie's post "Two questions", where Buttons previously expressed his/her dislike of theory.
One thing you can say, it may have been an ignorant piece of narrow mindedness, but it has sparked a lot of debate (25 responses and counting + some disappearing ones apparently (yeah right))

Rick -- 02/12/2004, 08:45:44 -- #992
it would be nice to hear a response from Buttons! or art thou shamed?

Scot -- 02/12/2004, 08:56:41 -- #993
Well, I bet none of us here sat down at a piano the first time and jammed to anything. Did you? Did anyone?

We're all at a certain level, and everyone was at a certain level at some point in time.

If a classical musician can't jam, but can play the poop out of a piece of sheetmusic, I would have to say they are musicians. Is Andre Watts a musician? Are the classical professors at your local University musicians? I'd have to say yes to both of those.

However, it's a good chance those folks can't jam, can't look at a lead sheet full of changes and make it sound all that hip unless they've practiced it.

The thing to remember about that is we're all on the learning tree.  To some people I'm a piano god, to others I'm  a beginner.

If someone's ears are not as strong as yours, then all that means is that their ears aren't as strong as yours.  But next year, maybe they will have stronger ears than you if they put the time into it.

It's one of my favorite stories.  I was playing a duo gig back in the early 90's with Buddy Catlett (bass, used to play with Louis Armstrong) and at the end of the gig I apologized for my playing, knowing what a professional he was.  He laughed and said, "Hey, don't apologize for where you're at!  It's just the place you are musically right now, and tomorrow you'll be somewhere else."

That attitude can carry over to looking at other players as well. Plus, coming down on other players for whatever is a pretty good indicator of your own level of playing...

Barry -- 02/12/2004, 09:12:53 -- #999
Thanks for that Rob, but that was actually a separate post as I went into a bit more detail in this thread....

7 -- 02/12/2004, 13:41:08 -- #1027

Actually with my students, I begin teaching them improvisation techniques from Lesson One.

Gets 'em hooked! He he

7

Mike -- 02/12/2004, 16:20:34 -- #1033
You know sometimes we do get to complicated here:
Really buttons asked a simple question:
Do you hate theory musicians?
reading everyones answers here it seems we could have said:
No.

Mike -- 02/12/2004, 16:21:18 -- #1034
well thats my theory anyways.

julie -- 02/12/2004, 22:45:29 -- #1044
Mike: hahahaha! clever one.

Scot -- 02/10/2004, 10:39:09 -- #882
Well, there's something to be said for having really strong ears, and yes, the theory did come after the improvisation (in jazz, that is, classical theory has been around forever).

So how evil is theory?  Does it hurt someone's playing to understand what goes on behind the scenes?  Seems to me that most of the great players around today also have a very good knowledge of theory.

But here's the deal.  How many of us are thinking about theory while we're performing?  I doubt very much that theory comes into play while most of us are improvising on stage.  At that point it's about the sound, and that's a big similarity between contemporary players and the old guys.

You should also keep in mind that guys like Dizzy, Parker, Monk, etc, all worked out things that maybe they didn't know the names of, but it was theory.  They understood when and where they could use certain scales and such, and it came from practicing and studying what other guys were playing.  

Theory and improvisation are two different things, really. It's like a martial artist.  Once you get into the ring, you're not thinking of forms, moves, or anything like that. You're going to let your body take over and hope that all your practice of forms and moves and martial arts theory has sunk in enough so that you can counter your opponent.

Same with music.

Musicians as a whole are better these days than they were back in the 40's.  There are exceptions, obviously, but the kids coming out of New York and Berkely and other places can play circles around the guys from back then. Maybe they don't have the soul yet, but they know more about what the old guys used to play than those old guys themselves.

Theory is a tool used to help understanding of music.  It's a way to force yourself to learn new sounds and how they can relate to the music you're playing.  

Follow your heart- good advice.  When performing, always follow the heart and make great music.  But when you are practicing, nothing wrong with figuring out how a phrygian scale works over a 7th chord, nothing wrong with practicing melodic minor ascending scales, nothing wrong with practicing intervalic exercises in all keys, nothing wrong with reading about what Stravisnky did to make his sounds.  Theory will not hurt you as a musician- lack of theory won't hurt you either, but it's definitely nice to have a solid understand of what makes music work behind the scenes  instead of just relying on your ears all the time.

7 -- 02/10/2004, 10:47:07 -- #885
Scot,
Barry had a post here that just dissappeared!!!


Buttons,

Don't you just hate theory musicians?

Yes, I do hate myself sometimes. Especially first thing in the morning after an all night drunk.


All girls need to know about a car is where's the gas pedal, the brake pedal and the steering wheel.

A man WANTS to know how things work. A man doesn't mind getting down and greasy and dirty checking out the inner workings of his car.


Oh, and sweetie that cute little red light thingy flashing on your dashboard isn't there just to be pretty.

It's telling you that you have to stop RIGHT NOW and put some oil in your engine.

But that's all right, honey, you just keep on driving until it stops, maybe some nice man will come along and help you out.

7

Mike -- 02/10/2004, 12:02:22 -- #888
You are over reacting Buttons.  Balance is the key.

Scot -- 02/10/2004, 18:01:13 -- #904
7- are you sure you saw that post in this thread?  To have a thread disappear is very very weird. It shouldn't happen..

Mike -- 02/10/2004, 21:17:53 -- #906
By the way Buttons ,... Clever theory you have about playing a C over a C chord.

7 -- 02/10/2004, 23:35:49 -- #910
Scot

RE: the vanished post


Ask Barry. He'll tell you.

It was very eloquent too.

It was there and then poof!

Look at how many responses the forum says there are to this post and then count how many there actually are.

7

g -- 02/11/2004, 00:12:19 -- #911
Actually Scot, I wrote something in reply to this thread before, and it never arrived!

stevo -- 02/11/2004, 05:52:15 -- #915
I played with a band for the last 8 months that had 2 guitar players, drums, and a singer ( who was very good). I was the keyboard added. These Guy would say to me .'you to much by the Book' because I would want to make charts. 'You have to hear um brah' was another.  What they were doing was boiling down the songs to 3 chords and letting the singer pick up all the passing tones and changes.
is this common? It's a Bar Band with 200 song list. I have also been told  it's the classic war between the guitarist and keyboardist   ( play by ear. vs  by the book)
What do ya think?
stevo

tomwrush -- 02/11/2004, 06:57:49 -- #919
Just a quick response about playing a C over C chord. Have you ever listened to any jazz music? By the sounds of it you never have. It also sounds very much like you have never studied the masters' improvisations.
Peace,
tom

sid -- 02/11/2004, 07:36:43 -- #922
Hate isn't a nice word to use in connection with music.  There was a rock/pop group called "Johnny Hates Jazz", a title that's depressing not because of what it says about jazz but because of what it tells us about Johnny's anger management.  Do any of the visitors to this forum really *hate* this or that style, or such-and-such a musician's approach?  Lots of music (including an awful lot of jazz) isn't my cup of tea at all, and there are plenty of performers I don't particularly care for.  But hate?  Come on - it's just music for heaven's sake.

sid

(who probably falls into the hated "theory musician" category)

Mike -- 02/11/2004, 08:56:22 -- #924
lol....   Yeh, from a  definetly hated musician to another I do hate some music.  But watching the movie "Anger Management" has changed my life.  Now I have discovered the wonderful music of Soundheim and Berstein "I feel pretty".  I always liked the band name "Johnny Hates Jazz".  I'm currently rehearsing my new band called "Mikey hates Kenny G"  It's ok to hate, but if you do, you should have Anger buddies.  (people to talk it out with)  Another reason this forum is so good for us to have.  It is better that Buttons choose to discuss it here rather than go into a jazz club with an ouzi.  Better we read his point of view here than in a post murder trial interview.  This is good solid anger management at work.

jordo -- 02/11/2004, 09:19:16 -- #928
If "Buttons" was looking for sympathetic readers I think he posted at the wrong site.  Why doesn't he just say, "Don't you just hate nearly everyone who posts on this forum?"
Nice reply by Scot, though.  Very diplomatic.  Makes a good moderator.

g -- 02/11/2004, 13:32:17 -- #939
I think, as usual, 7's is the post that shows insight.

Rick -- 02/11/2004, 14:01:03 -- #943
erm...

Mike -- 02/11/2004, 14:12:10 -- #944
and there I was thinking everyone was going to want to join my new band "Mikey hates Kenny G"..... there goes that brilliant theory....
damn I am always theorizing too much.

Mike -- 02/11/2004, 17:52:29 -- #965
The more I think about it.... I seriously wonder if I would get more gigs if when club owners ask me.... "So you play Jazz Piano?"   If I responded  "  No   I hate Jazz!!!"   I wonder if I would get more gigs that way.  I wish I could afford to experiment with it for a while.

Billy -- 02/11/2004, 20:04:26 -- #967
The only kind of musician that makes me mad are the ones who have no musical ear whatsoever. They take lessons as a kid, and learn some poop, but really dont know jack crap about it. You set some sheet music in front of them and off they go, playing away like they own the place. But, you ask them to jam and they cant do jack crap...Grr...and the next step up, the people who CANT play a song without a lead sheet. They cant memorize the order of 6 different chords for long enough to play it, and to make it worse, they cant hear the changes if you take their sheet from them. No ear for music...why do people like that call themselves musicians? Thats like calling someone a plumber who dosent have a plunger! The most basic of all  tools for music is your ear, and if you dont have that, what do you have?

Mike -- 02/11/2004, 21:14:16 -- #969
alls I know is .... I hate Jazz piano.......  I dont know why anyone
would want to learn about it.......  what am I doing here????????
ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Barry -- 02/12/2004, 03:09:09 -- #975
I did have a post here Scot and it was visible yesterday and it's just vanished - that is frankly bizarre!

Let me know if you find out why that happened because it's very strange!!!!

Scot -- 02/12/2004, 05:03:32 -- #977
I downloaded the datafiles and have begun digging around.  Hard to say why it happened, very odd, but a new system is bound to have a few bugs. Your message is still probably in the database, it just isn't showing up for some reason...

Dr. Whack -- 02/12/2004, 06:35:35 -- #987
that is bizzare...I remember reading Barry's post...maybe there is some AI scripting hiding in the code?

orpheusoverdrive -- 02/12/2004, 07:07:28 -- #989
comment to Billy M

Yeah I hear ya but a lot of the sheet music keyboardists can't really help it. A lot of keyboardists start as pianists and pianists are generally taught to play only what's in front of em. I've had scale tests and sight reading tests but never any jam tests. If  no one teaches the art of jamming then the only way to learn to is by teaching yourself. some ppl just can't do it.

Copyright 2005 by Scot Ranney. All rights reserved.
Click Here for more information about performances and clinics. Click Here to sign up for Scot's music announcements.