Hi all, I posted this on the Redbanned forum and Mike graciously replied, but I'd like to go a bit deeper and clarify my understanding (something I'm not sure he has time for). A little quiet over there at the moment. "Hi all, Mike mentions (passionately I might add) in the question section of Composition 2 (around 2:01:00 or so) that approaching music from a theory perspective is a bad idea, and theory should be left really to the end. I can completely understand why, in a way -- most of my favourite musicians started off writing fantastic music with little to no theory knowledge, instead learning in intuitively (or at least so I argue). However, I haven't had this experience myself -- what would be considered useful vs. not useful theory? Starting composing as an adult, I didn't really have the opportunity to jam along to my favourite songs for 15 years prior to starting. Isn't it useful to at least know what key one is in, what makes a minor scale, which notes are in which scales, etc? Not prescriptively, mind you. I found a bit of music theory made the piano make a hell of a lot more sense, and when writing melodies or parts, at least having an idea of what kind of mood I'm going for made writing a lot easier and quicker. Similarly, transcribing something and knowing what intervals sounds like, or what a major 7th sounds like has made transcribing a whole lot faster. Similarly, when messing around and trying to find a melody idea, knowing what scale I'm in makes improvising something sound a lot less like hunting and pecking. In short, what about theory that simply codifies certain moods or sounds you like? It doesn't mean you work it out on paper beforehand, but more or less acts as a label or starting point for finding a mood. "Oh, I want that really heartbreaking chord sound that I like -- minor chord, add a 9th and a 2nd." I'm not really sure how else one would know one's way around a piano, except perhaps by pattern recognition. Patterns work great on guitar for the most part, as it's really easy to, say, play chromatically descending Maj7th chords down the neck (just move the shape), but piano is another story. At least I think so? So...where does one draw the line? Sitting down and thinking "I'm going to write in Lydian" may indeed be missing the point, but isn't it useful to think "I'm kind of after that middle eastern vibe (i.e. start with the Arabic scale)" or "I'm sort of after that Japanese folk vibe" and know, at least on a basic/general level, what fits in there? I'll be the first to admit that attempting to write prescriptively with theory leads to drivel, and I hate the process, but I've found it useful for codifying what I'm learning.