How To Recognize Great Solos And Songs
By Ken K
Playing guitar is sometimes seen as a casual affair, and yes, there are many people who treat it as such. Many average guitar teachers actually believe it’s okay for their students to just learn a few chords and a few strum patterns and play a few songs without really understanding the reason why.
For those who only desire the barest glimpse of the music, it is acceptable in their minds to not study music theory. However if you are reading this article, chances are you’re looking for something more. For those of us who treat music as more than just an occasional hobby, understanding and exploring the facets of music theory not only make us better musicians, but also make us more appreciative of their different applications in music. It’s also not as difficult as many people think – especially if they learn from a great guitar teacher.
<strong>Learning What Makes A Solo Great</strong>
Often young or new guitarists will listen to a wicked guitar solo by one of their favorite guitarist and they may be truly moved by what they heard. Typically the next step they take is to look up tablature and find out how to play it. This in itself is dangerous, but that is another article! Without an understanding of the music, they will have a much harder time recreating the feel and using it in different songs or solos of their own.
Music theory is a tool that allows us to effectively digest and dissect the great works of other musicians. Knowing how to look for what key the song is in, to whether or not a chord tone is being played over a specific chord helps us learn how to create the sounds and feelings we have in our head, with the guitar in our hands. The greatest guitarists of all time may have learned about theory unconventionally (or claim to know nothing about it!), but the road to great guitar solos is provenly faster and more direct when the guitarist in question learns music theory.
<strong>Learning What Makes A Song Great</strong>
In similar fashion to learning what makes a great guitar solo is learning new songs, and what makes them sound the way they do. Often, as is with modern music, the same tropes and ideas are repeated and regurgitated in new ways. This means that chord progressions are almost always “borrowed” or reinvented, some even becoming a staple of the genre they are used in.
For example the I, IV, V in blues is one of the most recognizable progressions in all of music. Many (or most) pop and country songs use the I vi IV V or I IV vi V chord progressions. Songwriters often change keys (or use capos to change keys), but these progressions are used repeatedly in most pop/ country/ and even rock songs.
Learning what chords belong to a certain key will forge a much easier path to learning a song and quickly playing along. The idea of emotion in music will also help a beginner musician understand what makes a sad song sad, and a happy song happy. This is often done through chord choices within the song and is a part of basic music theory. Studying these concepts will lead to better song writing skills, allowing the guitarist to better project the emotions he or she is trying convey through the song.
Learning music theory is often seen as a difficult task, and does take a some time and effort like any other subject of study – however a great guitar teacher will make this process faster and fun. It’s worth the effort and it will make you a better musician!
Ken K is a professional guitarist and guitar teacher who lives in Denver, Colorado where he helps students enjoy learning to play the guitar. If you are looking for guitar lessons in Littleton, Highlands Ranch, Centennial, Lone Tree or other southwest suburbs of Denver, CO, make sure to contact Ken.