slejhamer wrote:Communication with other musicians is an obvious one - it seems like a pidgin. And thinking in terms of Mamas and Aboys is no substitute for a solid understanding of how scales are constructed; this seems to be a detour, and to some degree it perhaps oversimplifies things.
I would like to target two words here that I think are critical to understanding the relationship between my system and the traditional system for learning music theory. Is it a substitute
, or suppliment
? At first, my method seems like a substitute. You can find yourself playing in any key, in any mode, knowing where all the right notes and all the right chords are for that key, in practically no time at all. You might even marvel, as I did and still do, that you can get away with all this without having to even know the names of the notes or chords you're playing. How crazy is it to be able to play in any key and, for example, be able to suddenly shift into harmonic minor and back (knowing the appropriate alterations for every chord as well) without actually knowing the names of the notes involved? I would think it's a kind of insanity if I didn't already know how simple it is. Before my method led me to such heights, I didn't even know such things were possibilities. (Of course, I might hear what that kind of move sounded like in music but I had no idea how I could ever acheive it myself...I would just think "That sounded neat" and be at a complete loss.) So, the rSoG method brought me to these places in music and gave me to power to use it as a complete substitute for a traditional education in music theory. But, once I started looking into what tradition had to offer, I found that the books that used to confuse me were actually easy to understand. I had tried to make it through those kinds of chapters before...you know, the ones that tell you how to build the major scale in a certain key and how the intervals create the triads for all the naturally occurring chords in that key...but before the rSoG gave me the gift, I just couldn't make it to the end of the chapter. Why? I just didn't know how
that information could make me a better guitarist. I couldn't see the relevance. After the rSoG hit me I could finally pay attention to those chapters, in fact, I ate them up and asked for more! So, people can use my method as a substitute and get away with it in big ways, but they don't have to...and I encourage them not to. You should used it as a suppliment
and keep from isolating yourself from the rest of the world. You don't have to, so don't.
I don't want anyone to get the wrong idea about my method by thinking that it somehow puts a wall between you and other guitars when it comes to communication. Calling a chord YBro isn't so confusing to a traditional student if you refer to it as "Dorian". Just as each of the people in a real family have their own generic, relational names (Papa, Mama, etc) they also have specific, absolute names (Chris, Maria, etc). These names actually serve as a kind of "key signature". For example, if I tell you "Mama on the 5th fret of the top string", (if you understand the method), you will know where all the other chords are as well as where every playable note is. So, if the absolute names serve to bridge the gap between traditional students and rSoGuitarists, then why even have the generic naming scheme? The answer is that it serves as a powerful metaphor for remembering the location and function of each chord in the family. It is a metaphor that serves the user all the way into the advanced chapters. It turns out that the generic naming scheme is actually the real source of power, in my opinion, of the rSoG method. I mean, the stuff on soloing is the part that most people get excited about, but it's the ability to understand chords that really makes the difference between just noodling and soloing with powerful and meaningful phrases. If it weren't for my generic naming system, then all the complaints you hear about "pattern-based" learning would be true of my method as well. I hope it's okay with Nick if I quote him here, as he was the one to coin the phrase "pattern-based understanding" when we were discussing the rSoG method. My method focuses on studying the relationship between the pattern for melody and chords, as they are one in the same. The chords give you the license to drive the melody, they are inextricable connected in a way that is so simple if you can just teach yourself to "see" the music. As my signature file now implies, that is starting to become a phrase that I think embodies the rSoG way of thinking..."see the music". I have heard myself tell many a student before, "if it looks right, it will sound right." It's kind of crazy how I have learned that the way it looks and the way it sounds are one in the same as well. I used to hear about how people who read and write music enough can just look at a sheet of music and start hearing it as they read it...I have always thought that was such a cool thing. Now, I can admit to knowing what that means. I hope everyone can reach that level if they aren't already there now.
Well, at this point I feel like I'm writing another book, about my book...but I've enjoyed it. I've been all over the place with my thoughts. I actually jumped around a bunch and finally gathered enough momentum to feel like I was making sense. I wrote the stuff below actually earlier than what's above. I feel I'm at a good stopping point now, and I could just delete the rest, but, I figure why not just leave it. Maybe something in it will also benefit someone. So, I'm gonna leave it and just hope it doesn't cause any confusion for anyone.
It's kind of interesting that some may think my intention is to circumvent the entire tradition of learning music theory, because that's how I started out. I recognized the power of the method and I sought to completely ignore tradition. Why not, if possible, right? Well, for a few years I locked into this mentality, thinking that the success of my method might actually depend on it. Turns out, it doesn't and it doesn't need to. In fact, I have found that my method and the traditional method actually exist in harmony with eachother. When I finally let this notion soak into my mind it wasn't a big shock, as it shouldn't be to anyone. Music is music and the laws that govern them existed long before we gave them recognition. When tablature entered the historical scene, did it change the music it described? Of course not. It was and is simply another lense to look through.
So, what I'm saying is that you can use the Rosetta Stone Of Guitar as an aid to learning traditional music theory. The reverse is also true. People who know some traditional music theory can usually jump right in with the rSoG method and hit the ground running. The only problem I've seen really work to keep them apart is some form of stubbornness or lack of patience. (And as I have already admitted, that also happened to be my problem, coming from the other side. For so long I had been let down by traditional methods, and had hardened my heart toward it. As a young, impatient guitarist, I couldn't slow down long enough to read between the lines and finally understand what tradition wanted to show me.)
If traditional music theorists can educate themselves by studying the 5 ledger line staff, why can't guitarists have their "staff" right on the fretboard? That was an early goal for me with rSoG. How can I remove that step? I want to teach music theory without having to transfer/translate from the 5 ledger line staff to the fretboard. After all, that's where our eyes and our focus tends to be, especially for me, growning up as a mostly improvisational player. So, rather than teach people to study the patterns that are made by the way the 5 ledger lined staff is layed out, I teach them what all that looks like on the fretboard. Learn to "see the music"...