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Music Theory Guided Tour for Guitar and Bass Players

Music Theory Guided Tour

Music Theory Guided Tour

The first thing about learning music or music theory is to realize that there is a difference between intellectually knowing something, and having a visceral connection to it.  For example, Knowing that “E” is the third of “C” by having to count intervals or degrees of a scale isn’t truly knowing the information. You need to know the sound, as surely as you know color or the language you speak.  Knowing what the “3rd” is of any note instantly is essential, as is knowing that “E” is the Sharp 5 of “Ab.”  Taking it one step further on a bass or guitar you need to know where all those notes are, and be able to see those relationships.  Finally you must be able to hear these relationships within a key center.  My point being you need to know the information inside out so that it is a reflex.  Getting to this point is way past just reading a music theory book, or even passing a written test about it. It involves working in many ways to reach a point where you have the information engrained, and can use it spontaneously.

So to reach this goal I’ve created a series of books, and here they are in the order I recommend studying them.  Some of these books are in treble clef and some are not.  I should say to bass players that not learning treble clef is a very bad idea.  Bass players are often confronted with treble as is any musician.  Any musician expecting to function as a professional musician should have equal ability with both the bass and treble clef.  So the fact that some of these books are in treble clef shouldn’t sway a bass player on whether to study the course.

Music Theory Guided Tour First Steps

Music Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume One: This book comes with or without videos.  If you are someone who is weak on music theory then the video course would be better.  This book teaches you the notes and intervals used in building all chords but also makes you write out where these notes would be on a guitar or bass fingerboard.  It is 100 pages of exercises which should take about 6 months to complete but could be done in 3 months if you are serious.  There is a Music Theory Workbook for All Instruments too, for non-guitarists or bassists.  

At the same time as you are working on Music Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume One I recommend the Music Theory Interval Recognition  MP3s so you can quiz yourself on interval relationships.  You can use this anywhere you can listen to an MP3.

One further thought; along with the Music Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume One and Music Theory Interval Recognition I usually have a guitarist work on the Chord Workbook for Guitar Volume One so that they can start understanding how the chords they are learning relate to music.  This is usually accompanied by the Complete Blues Comping Both Major and Minor which has you playing the chord progressions in time as if playing a duet with someone. This will really hone your technique and time; there is no hiding place in this one.

Music Theory Guided Tour Next Step

Next is Music Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume Two  Which does the same thing with scales, showing you how they are built with 100 pages of exercises writing out where the notes are on a music clef and fingerboard.

After a student is maybe 1/2 way through Music Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume One  I often add in Harmonic Analysis. This course fits in nicely with Chord Workbook for Guitar Volume One because it analyzes the chord progressions you are learning.  This analysis teaches you how to reharmonize a chord progression and then gives you 36 chord progressions to analyze. This is crucial to build up a visceral knowledge and quick recognition of these harmonic relationships so that you can improvise reharmonization as you play; an essential skill.

I always make sure my students know their scales because scales can be used to quickly figure out music theory relationships.  i.e. if you know a Gb Major scale then you can quickly understand that “Eb” is the 6th because you have memorized the scale.  I usually start a student with scales right away and use either Essential Scales,  1st Steps for a Beginning Guitarist or the New York Guitar Method (NYGM) NYGM Primer for beginners and NYGM Volume One for more serious students. NYGM also contains both the Music Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume One and Music Theory Workbook for Guitar Volume Two information.  I should add that I always have a student play scales with the MetroDrone™ so that they hear the scale in the correct key center and develop long line rhythm capabilities (feeling time in larger units).  I also have them get creative with the scales by playing them along with Jam Tracks.

Music Theory Guided Tour Related Material

Now, from the beginning, I also have a student work with Ear Training One Note Complete and Contextual Ear Training so that all these relationships can be learned aurally as well as intellectually.

Once a student learns the basic 22 scales in at least one key, and is around 80% on the Ear Training One Note I start them on Scale Analysis if they have time.  This course teaches you the relationship between scales, chord progressions and ear training and is crucial to understanding the interrelationship between your ear and your mind when thinking about scales and chords.

The above process usually continues for about one year, maybe more, depending on how much time a student has to practice.  No matter how much time you have, getting through this information methodically is crucial to good musicianship.

Music Theory Guided Tour: Taking it Up a Notch

Next I tackle arpeggios with an eye towards working on Approach Notes.  I usually have a student learn the arpeggios found in the Approach Notes and then do a massive technical study of approach notes on their instrument as well as writing out solos using the various techniques where approach notes can be used.  I consider this to be a very long study taking one to two years.  I should mention that once a student starts Approach Notes it is assumed they know their 22 scales so at this point I have students do a 20 minute warm up with either Modal Sequencing-Two Note for All Instrumentalists or  Modal Sequencing-Three Note for All Instrumentalists.  I recommend studying from these books for about 20 years.  No kidding. It’s a lot of information, so consider it a lifelong companion.

After Approach Notes a student has a choice to move into other reharmonization principles as found in Chord Workbook for Guitar Volume Two or NYGM Volume Two.  or they could move into Pitch Class Theory or other techniques such as SweepsFurther Arpeggio StudiesPentatonics, or other contemporary improvisation concepts.

This may seem like a crazy amount of stuff but if a student practices one to two hours a day religiously, they can get through the Approach Notes and the prerequisites in about five years.  Not a bad amount of time and about the same as a four year college degree which is basically what you have when you finish scales, but I include Approach Notes because they are so crucial to understanding many improvisors.

Music Theory Guided Tour Conclusion

The only thing I would add to this Music Theory Guided Tour is for guitarists: it is crucial that they play with the correct technique, so from the beginning I have them work with Guitar Technique and Physiology.  I also believe that learning to sight read allows them to explore any style of music in great depth, which will expose them to many more aspects of music.  Usually I recommend the NYGM for guitarists as a cost effective way to learn to read music, and then follow that up with the Time Studies.  Then various books like Time Transformation or 013 Hextonic Études for further sight reading.

The Historic Precedents Of This Kind Of Music Education

You might enjoy checking out the "Music Education Genealogy Chart" located on my artist's site. You will clearly see the historic progression of pedagogy that is the basis for Muse Eek Publishing Products. Great musicians throughout history have been studying the ideas presented by which derives its content from a a lineage that stretches back to Scarlatti!

Bruce Arnold playing a harmonic on a guitar for Bruce Arnold Blog entry on Muse Eek Publishing Website Music Theory Guided Tour

Guitar Blog by Bruce Arnold for Muse Eek Publishing


Guitar Blog By Bruce Arnold

This Guitar Blog would cover many aspects of playing guitar and understanding it's idiosyncrasies. Guitarists are unique. They don’t usually learn from books.  Many times they don’t read music well.  Guitarists also developed a real “visual” approach to playing rather than actually hearing and understanding what they are playing. Most people just think they can teach themselves guitar; it’s the myth of the “born musician” but most of the time self-teaching imposes limits and creates problems that are difficult to address.

My Background

I was self taught growing up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in the 50's and 60's.  It was hard to find a teacher and then if you could did you have the money for lessons.  For me it was learn from friends or transcribe from LPs certainly wasn't any internet to browse.  Although I learned a lot from friends and transcribing there were many things that I learned wrong.  The short list is proper technique, ear training and how music theory and ear training are related.  This created problems for me for decades to come as I tried to figure out why I couldn't do certain things no matter how hard I practiced.

Contemporary Resources

Today with the internet and access to books, videos and skype lessons a guitarist has a dizzying list of possibilities for learning.  Unfortunately that also means that their are many books, websites and teachers that really don't give a student what they need but rather whatever will keep them entertained.  Of course some students don't want to dig deep into music and an understanding of the guitar.  They just want a few licks that they can play and learn a few songs.  Nothing wrong with that music can be very rewarding and enjoyable so whatever floats your boat is good. 

The Search For Answers

On the other hand the serious student like myself with a deep desire to master the instrument any of guitar education platforms become a waste land.  I think this is true for a serious student no matter what their level.  One problem that plagues guitar students search for knowledge is their lack of understanding their needs coupled with a learning process that usually takes years to develop where they essentially realize they need a deeper understanding of music and their instrument in order to reach a higher level.  That is where the books that I've published come into play.

The Serious Student

So if you have reached that point where you want to get serious about the guitar then you have come to the right place.  Since I’m a guitarist and have taught thousands of guitar students over the years I’ve pretty much seen it all. This Guitar Blog will show you innovative ways that you can raise your ability.  In addition the Guitar Blog will deal with many of the issues that specifically plague guitarists.  The things I recommend are not easy but once you master them you will see that you have raised your musicianship to a level that will allow you to play anything you desire.

The Holistic Approach to a Guitar Blog

There are obviously a ton of books and music education sites covering Guitar Music Education. Why choose mine? In my 45 years of teaching music I have taught countless students. And I have seen amazing results. Unlike the many sites that have a “one size fits all” format, I believe in a holistic approach. This means I can teach one subject or many subjects multiple ways. And I believe that no matter what instrument you play, you need a full toolbox of musical skills.

Why My Courses Work

My courses are successful because I personally experienced the trauma of being taught incorrectly, and then having to unlearn years of improper practice.  So I know how it feels, and what to do about it. I was lucky that at that stage I found great teachers who really knew how to help me.  Fortunately being one of the lucky ones because they “passed the torch” of their experiences on to me. I found answers that fixed my problems, and now helping my students to reach their potential is one of the greatest satisfactions of my career.

What's Under The Covers

So back to what makes my Guitar Music Education and this Guitar Blog different from those offered on other sites. First I have one on one contact with my students through email, FAQS or comments posted to this Guitar Blog.  I also offer paid Skype lessons if a student prefers a one on one private consultation. All of this allows a student to make sure they are doing an exercise correctly.  My books and blog posts tend to not be style specific in most cases.  For example, scales are used in any idiom so I teach them to all my students regardless of the style(s) they ultimately have interest in playing.  I don't have any prejudices against any style of playing.  I grew up playing country, rock and blues, then moved into Jazz, Classical.  Finally finding my own style of applying pitch class set ideas to all the aforementioned styles.

A Tailored Program

As mentioned, my approach is not “one size fits all.” When you work with me you get a program tailored to your specific needs. Maybe you have technique issues that are slowing down your ability or you need help organizing the fretboard.  Maybe you need to prepare for music college?  I've helped guitarists with all of these problems and more to become a better musician. To get an idea on some of the other subjects I’ll cover, see the Guitar Studies section of this website.

The Historic Precedents Of This Kind Of Music Education

You might enjoy checking out the "Music Education Genealogy Chart" located on my artist's site. You will clearly see the historic progression of pedagogy that is the basis for Muse Eek Publishing Products. Great musicians throughout history have been studying the ideas presented by which derives its content from a  a lineage that stretches back to Scarlatti!





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Learning Scales a Different Approach

Learning Scales a Different Approach

Learning Scales a Different Approach Muse Eek Publishing Blog by Bruce Arnold

Muse-Eek-Publishing-Blog-Bruce-Arnold, Learning Scales a Different Approach

Muse Eek Publishing Blog by Bruce Arnold

Learning Scales a Different Approach

Learning Scales a Different Approach

Learning scales is a long term process for musicians. When a student is starting out making sure they have the correct approach is crucial. I recently wrote a book called “Scale Analysis” which I think will greatly help musicians understand how to balance the idea of key center and chord sound.

It applies the “Contextual Ear Training” concept to specific chord progressions which through example shows you that there are really 28 scales (plus their modes) that are commonly used in improvisation. Understanding, hearing and applying these modes based on a key center will revolutionize your musicianship. This is a completely new way of thinking about chords, scales, their names and functions. It basically teaches you how to think the way you hear and hear the way you think. Overtime you will find that your ability to improvise over extremely difficult chord changes will be a breeze once you work with this new concept.

For many years students have been asking how to apply scales to chord progressions while at the same time using their ear training skills. This new course tackles that issue with a 700 page PDF, over 4 hours of video and additional MP3s and Midiifiles for all exercises. At the heart of this course you are taught how to hear an entire chord progression in one key center. A Major Blues, Minor Blues and “Rhythm Changes”chord progressions are used to demonstrate these concepts. You will work through 36 chord progressions that teach you what my guru Charlie Banacos called the “Natural Scales.” These “Natural Scales” are what you naturally hear on any given chord. There is a process to understand and hear natural scales which is explained in the book. Most importantly this course will help you develop both the intellectual and aural understanding of how scales and chords relate to each other when thinking of an entire chord progression in one key center.

Besides the worksheet where you write out the scales, there are many other parts to the course that give you extremely valuable information about chord scale relationships. Here is some of the other parts of this course:

  • A list showing you what chords tend to be used with specific scales when you are relate them to one key center.
  • A list showing you the location of the scales and their related chords within all 36 chord progressions so you can see pattens.
  • A list showing you all possible chord scale relationships for each scale used in the chord progressions A list showing you all possible subsets for the scales used in the chord progressions.
  • A list showing the South Indian “Melakarta” scales and their relationship to the scales used in this course.
  • A list of all alternate names used for the scales found in this course.

Additional ear training exercises which help you apply the techniques learned in this course to popular tunes or your own compositions. One of the most common questions I receive is “How do I fit this course into my practice schedule?”

There are 36 chord progressions in this course and I would do one chord progressions a week. It would be easy to do more but you need to apply the information. Filling in the scales for most students would only take a few minutes but you need to apply this information! I would recommend spending 20 minutes a day doing the following:

Singing through the scales over the MP3s of the chord progressions all in one key center. Applying the scales by improvising over the chord progression. If you just do that you will improve see amazing improvements to your musicianship.

The Historic Precedents Of This Kind Of Music Education

You might enjoy checking out the "Music Education Genealogy Chart" located on my artist's site. You will clearly see the historic progression of pedagogy that is the basis for Muse Eek Publishing Products. Great musicians throughout history have been studying the ideas presented by which derives its content from a  a lineage that stretches back to Scarlatti!



Please Join Our Mailing List Below