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Lesson 106: Music Theory and Playing

Music Theory

Music theory can be a good thing, but it can also be a burden. When it comes to a spiritual art form like music, too much theory can literally make you "too wise for your own good". I have had problems with this myself - I have always known more theoretically than I have been able to apply when playing. Music is very much about feeling and the more of it and the broader the palette, the better. If the music doesn't move you, the player, how do you expect it to be able to move the listeners? Still, this is by no means a valid excuse for not learning theory. Theory is not a bad thing per se, not any amount of it, the problem is that it has to be fully understood and digested in order to be of any real use.

Learning New Concepts

One way to familiarize yourself with a new concept is to write a tune utilizing the concept. I have practiced this method a lot myself and I have found it to be very effective. By doing this you really get inside the thing and make it a tool of your own.

Applying Music Theory

When is a theoretical concept fully absorbed and ready to be put to use? I think it is when it is thorougly understood and practiced to the point where it has been transferred to the subconscious level. Really understanding and getting to the core of an advanced theoretical concept may take years and years of

  • practice and
  • thinking/ meditation
Ultimately, you may get to the point where you start to feel even things involving really advanced concepts. Ideas start flowing from the right side of the brain, the intuitive side and you do not need to go through the intellectual process. This is when art starts to happen, the music starts to play itself, to flow through you and it is like magic...

2006 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.