Hi there,

I have seen it posted several times throughout the forums that there are some that find music theory to be complicated, overly complex, or just plain not accessible to the average church musician. It seems to be particularly strong among those who are either volunteers or who don't have 'professional' training.

I know that I'm a bit of an oddity in that I was exposed to theory early in my instrument-playing life, and that I'm a curious sort to track it down and such.

I personally don't feel that the practical elements of music theory are overly complex, although I think it gets a bad reputation due to the way it is packaged or perceived. I think there are several practical advantages to knowing some basic theory, but I am biased.

It's like changing the brakes on your car. It's not rocket science, unless you've had no exposure. Then it sure feels like it. (I'm not sure how accurate that statement is since I haven't had any exposure to rocket science. Probably a bad example on my part.) I view a lot of theory as a collection of patterns, which you already can recognize anyway since that's a lot about what playing an instrument is.

My intent is to get an idea of what you find complex about music theory, so that those on the forums who know a bit about it may be able to help you in some way. I have some stuff on my profile page, but I know there are many others who also know quite a bit about theory as well. (It is likely they know more than I do.) I appreciate your feedback, the intent here is to hopefully help you out if you'd like to learn about it and increase your understanding of music in general (regardless of the instrument).

The question in the subject is the question. If you find music theory complicated and complex, why? Feel free to elaborate as additional detail will help others to help you. If you don't want others to help you, that's awesome (I applaud your self-assurance) but you probably then shouldn't be declaring that in front of the planet on the internet... : )

My intent is that this may not answer your questions directly in this thread, but may initiate other discussions or resources targeted at your specific issue or issues. : )

Thanks. : )

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Hey Judah:
Personally, I don't find theory complex or complicated, but I think you nailed it when you said it might be the way that theory is packaged or perceived. We have a scriptural mandate to play skillfully, and I believe that all of us, worship leaders and musicians, need to do our best to hold true to that.

That being said, I REALLY think we need to be careful NOT to over-complicate the music we practice and play.

In the average church in the U.S., 80% of the congregation has no musical background or training whatsoever. They can rarely tell the difference between a 7th and a 9th, or the difference between a G and a G2.

The music needs to sound good, and we need to work at that...BUT we also need to ensure that the music we play reaches people WHERE THEY ARE.

Smitty
I'm right there with you. Frankly, I find that learning even theory-oriented terms helped me to communicate with the rest of the worship team better. (It came in real handy when playing with a classically trained pianist.)

I think that there is a level of theory that is 'deep' and truly for those who are really into it, but also another level that holds some good basic data that helps us to communicate with one another better and also understand why the music we play works (from a western perspective). That has to do with some basic skills like transposition, some composition, etc...

Just trying to get an idea of what people find difficult. Maybe we can repackage it, maybe we can't, but I thought it may be worth it to give it a shot for those who would dig that. : )
I HEAR you!...especially about the classically trained pianist...I have one of those...who also happens to be a soprano who likes to sing...ouch! (sometimes)

I really think you are onto something...if I can help...let me know.

Smitty
I played with one for around 6-7 years, and we were able to work out some cool arrangements b/c she had a very good grasp of harmony (and I was smart enough at the time to take time to listen when I didn't know something).

Hopefully this discussion will at some point engage someone who would like to sharpen their theory skills but have hit the wall (rather than us saying it might be a good idea). : )

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