Within the community of bass players, there exists a certain controversy regarding the value of music theory. Some are sceptical about this subject because of their belief that music theory will hold back natural musical creativity, along with the overall enjoyment of playing the bass guitar. Ostensibly, other disbelievers regard theory and analysis as an impractical means to describe and analyse a spontaneous musical performance. Nothing could be further from the truth, so let us get right to the heart of the matter with some practical explanations exemplifying the benefits of music theory.
Many of the cynics wouldn’t dream of being illiterate in their own native language, but when it comes to the subject of music, they would rather give in to their own sense of overdeveloped recreation. Literate bass players can play, speak, write, read, analyse, hear, visualise and understand the music they are playing just as quickly and naturally as they can understand and speak their own language. Without the skills of theory, harmony and ear training, it could take weeks to understand, hear, practice and play something that a trained musician could hear, understand and perform spontaneously in real-time. I witnessed this first-hand back in the 80’s working with renowned rock and pop artists. To record one song accurately could take weeks or more, therefore validating the importance of music theory. Acquiring a theoretical and harmonic knowledgebase can greatly accelerate the process for learning new music, as well as acclimatising yourself to different musical styles.
The study of music theory, harmony and ear training undoubtedly provides the musician with the essential tools needed to create music ‘on demand’ without having to rely on any external source of inspiration. Music is a language that consists of a body of auditory, visual, physical and verbal dimensions. With that in mind, the interdependency of harmony, theory and ear training within the musical matrix itself, must be realised and learned through your instrument – the bass guitar – and the only way to do that is through continual practice, critical listening and developing an appreciation for music history!
Check out the links below to turbo charge your music theory skills to new and exciting level where you will be in control of all your musical abilities!