The Pathway to Music Theory For the Guitarist

With so many guitar players out there seeking to learn about and apply music theory to their guitar playing or song writing,  a frequent question asked is:

Where do I start?  What steps should I take?

This article presents one suggested path:

We believe that it should start with the notes on the neck and the fundamentals of the musical Alphabet.

A skilled woodworker understands his tools very well, and how to get the most out of them to create what he wants to.

An artist understands his color pallette , his brush sizes, the strokes to make and the texture of his canvas.

Shouldn’t anyone that purports to be a guitar player at least try to understand the area of the guitar where all notes and chords originate from?

From the notes on the neck, triads are the next step.  Major, Minor, Augmented and Diminished.  The building blocks of all chords.  Understanding how to form them is an essential skill.    Coupled with notes on the neck, the student can now play these notes which form chords and do things like “Play through chord changes”, discover and understand arpeggios more fully, and even apply them to tapping.

Next would be the construction of the Major scale.  The Root system of all music theory.  Intervals are based around all the Major and perfect intervals of a Major scale,  Diatonic Keys are derived from them.  The list of uses from the knowledge of the Major scale is virtually limitless.

Diatonic Harmony, or what are the chords that we can build from the Major scale?  With this comes the discovery of what chords fit together, what chords can be used to resolve, the Roman Numeral system of notating and analyzing progression.  Transposition.  The ability to notate any key, and to learn to identify keys.  The circle of Fifths.

The road can go on from there and usually does.  Modes, Counterpoint, Intervals, Cadences, Ear Training and so forth.  But the student with these above skills and the knowledge of applying them to the guitar has the best chance of success when moving on.

Notes + Alphabet + Triads + Major Scales + Major Keys =  Strong theoretical foundation.

The way you choose  to learn, from private lessons, to online free resources to Online sites which charge, can determine how long it takes and the depth of understanding and ease of application for each step.