My Theory On Music Theory

Before you read this, please know: I am not a teacher. I don’t have a degree in anything. What I am saying could be dangerous but so could soda-pop  (remember SURGE?). Read at your own discretion, and take what you will from this. The content here is based solely on the opinion of someone with a very intricate and sometimes complex thought process.

I learned to read basic notation in grade school, but it was forgotten over the years because I didn’t use it. I didn’t need it because my life didn’t depend on it. I wasn’t trying to make a living in the music field ,so it fell by the wayside. It’s the same with everything else – if you don’t use it, you lose it. I’m at the point in life where it’s fly or die. In an industry where the chance of making it is slim, I need to be versatile.  Don’t get me wrong, many make it without learning this stuff. I’ve been composing without it all my life. I do believe it’s better (at least at first) to make music without knowing theory. In the beginning when learning this craft, developing your ear is the most important thing you can do. By not getting too caught up in text, you’re focusing on writing using just your heart and soul; which make the most impact in songs.

Theory is nothing more than science. Science is a bunch of theories. Ever heard of the “Theory of Gravity” by Sir Issac Newton? Yeah, theory explains things. However, knowing the “whys” is not always a good thing. It takes the mystery away. Let us use love as an example. Science has a theory of what is love,and if you study the science you may get bummed and not even love at all. Science (theory) removes all romance. The awe, fun, and mystery is gone. It becomes boring and stale. When you know the why then it becomes predictable, and predictability in music is not always a good thing. Not knowing the science behind love doesn’t mean you can’t love. It doesn’t mean you can’t express or recognize love. Beautiful love can definitely be made without knowing the how or why.Right? It most certainly can! .

Don’t get so caught up in the science that you miss the moment. Sometimes, loving is the point and not thinking if you’re doing it correctly. You’ll know if you’re doing it correct or not. You’ll feel it. You’ll see it in the expressions others. Do you get what I’m trying to say? Making music is the same as love. We can explain the theory. We can dissect a song and see the actual DNA of it. However, it’s the emotion, the feeling and the captivating aurora that I rather use as my guide. I know what works when I hear and feel it; not when I see the theory. That’s my driving force in music and it hasn’t let me down yet. If you can make music based on emotion then you’re already ahead of the game and on your way. Music is about feeling – Chords are either “happy” or “sad” sounding. It’s instinctively knowing how each emotion affects a listener that is the key in songwriting. If you don’t have something that moves the heart, questions the mind, or diverts attention for 3 minutes then you have nothing but noise.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not 100% against theory. After all, I am learning it for a reason. Explaining parts becomes easier and reading it will never hurt your resume. It lets you write scores, transpose keys and communicate your intentions better. It can also expose you to new styles and modes of feeling.  If all you want to do is play other people’s music then reading music can speed up that process, but do know: reading and composing are two different things entirely.

So, depending on how you utilize theory, it can either slow you down or speed you up. I’ll always create with my ear and gut first. It’s my compass, referring only to a map when things get hectic or when I want to discover new places to sail. Are you tired of the metaphors yet?  Let me end with this: You absolutely do you not need to learn theory to make excellent music. Countless mainstream / platinum artists have proved that. And you definitely don’t need to know theory to love 🙂

Make love through Harmony,
Rocky Bourgoyne

Collect Moments, Not Things

Sitting here I contemplate. I look around and see my belongings packed up in boxes. Small and few, I have discarded most of my material things; those of which served only a function and not a feeding of the soul. I have my objects which I look at, and they bring me comfort:, a ring my fiancee’ gave me on our anniversary and a chain from my mother which contains a prayer for her son. Those two objects are the only things not in boxes. The rest – books and various treasures from my childhood are all I took from a home which I lived in for 27 years. My studio equipment is packed up as well. I am living without many material objects, and don’t really miss it as much as I thought I would. In fact, I have gained insight into me as a person and into my relationships. I am waking up every day to satisfy and hold onto the emotional bonds which keep happiness, love and devotion at the forefront of my priorities. I am living every day based on the kind of person I am and the conversations I have.

Physical objects fade. Physical objects rot. They sit on shelves collecting dust. They get locked up to never see the light of day. We hold onto objects more often than we hold onto each other. What good does it serve? We can not hold back time, yet we hold back so many things. We don’t let go and rarely allow ourselves to get swept away in everyday life. I’m not talking about work. I am talking about everyday life; sitting in a room with no TV on, just me and you. Holding each others hands and looking at the person, appreciating the things about them which you can’t touch. Material objects mean nothing to me anymore. They never did, but I look at them differently now. I appreciate a bed now when I lay in one. I appreciate a table to eat a meal on. I appreciate the simple things which I always took for granted. I am thanking God more every day, even though I am losing more and more.

” Letting go is hard when you think it’s easy” – rocky bourgoyne

What does that mean? It means when you take something for granted, the day you lose is going to be a hard day for you. The impact of not “having it” is harder when you never appreciated it. But if you thank God every day for the things you have…when you really appreciate the things in your life, you constantly are aware of how special it is. You appreciate it. So when you have to let it go, it is not the same kind of “hard” because you always knew it wasn’t yours. It was always God’s. It was always going back to dust. Remember, “Dust to dust, ashes to ashes”. You are expecting to lose it one day so you treat it like it’s your last time having it. Yes, it’s still difficult and hard but in a different way.  This only applies to “letting go” by choice and not by being forced or something taken from you. That’s a different story. Nevertheless, cherish what you have and the moments you have with it. Cherish the people. We are all here on borrowed time. In a split-second, things can come crashing down. It’s happening to me and unfortunately in a forceful, unnatural  way.


Combining powerful music with powerful images

On April 20, 2010, the Gulf, its local communities, industry and marine coastal life were poisoned by the BP oil spill. This video is a tribute which was put together by Bourgoyne using one of his songs. It’s an effective display of how the right music combined with the right images can invoke feelings and emotions for change.

Tough Times…

More good people getting attacked and knives thrown their way. Thrown by people who have sad lives and must only destroy to feel like they are in power. In reality, these people are not in control of their own lives and are broken inside. People who unselfishly care and do for others are getting stepped on. People who never ask anything in return because they aren’t about material things, favors or scorecards. Good will always triumph bad. Good always wins. Bad may have its time but it’s constantly on edge, constantly looking over its shoulders, constantly trying to feed its hunger with materials and distractions, constantly worried about losing, and constantly searching for happiness.
You will never have what I have. I am richer than any material object. I am happier than you’ll ever be because I choose to be different. I choose to be free. You choose to conform, settle, be told what to do, and follow the norm. I’m not made for the city. This grid-like, thoughtless, assembly line. With your cookie cutter houses and your shallow Sunday confessions; you look outside your window judging everyone and everything, yet ignore the ugly inside yourself. Your jealousy and hate is the destruction of American freedoms. You should really try putting yourself into other people’s shoes sometime and show some empathy. That is what’s missing in our society. Empathy. Too much emphasis is placed on competition, material things or looks. Amazing how in the land of the free you are not, but inside I am freer than you’ll ever be. You envy my freedom to do what I please. You envy my desire to think outside the box. You stand in your cardboard thrones and stare in disgust as you watch me move freely about, while you wait for permission to breathe. Here I am being forced to bend over and take a ramming of corruption up my ass from thieves who stay up late at night trying to figure out how to rape the little guy. Well, I got news for them. And to all you nosey, materialistic, robotic neighbors who want everyone to look and act just like you and other jealous, sad excuses for compassionate human beings – you are the ones who are truly fucked, not I. I have a double finger salute just for you and the rest of society who all think and act the same.