When he’s not busy touring the world or unleashing face-melting solos, guitar virtuoso and iconic composer Steve Vai sometimes wishes to share his genius with the rest of the world.
That’s exactly what he’s done with his most recent book. Titled “Vaideology: Basic Music Theory for Guitar Players,” the book will function as a definitive basis for music theory as it is applied to the instrument.
Vai spoke about the work, noting that it came about because of a common question he always finds himself getting asked – how much music theory do guitar players actually need to know? Theory could be thought of as a way of quantifying music or expressing it through language and symbols. And while Vai was quick to note that a person didn’t need to know any theory to be a talented musician, he did stress that understanding the basics helps.
Music theory can help composers express certain moods in their works, extrapolate on musical ideas, and even function as a handy vernacular for sharing musical ideas with others in collaborative projects. Vai’s book will contain all the basics and bridge the gap between traditional theory and guitar-centric teachings.
Topics include everything from how to read music and the notes on the neck to how to construct scales and understand the modes. There are sections on key signatures, rhythmic readings for simple, compound, and odd meter, as well as chords, the circle of fifths, and much more.
Vai spoke about his fascination with theory, remembering how notes on paper always looked like art to him and how he always had a desire to understand as much theory as he possibly could. He hopes with the release of his book, guitarists who want to learn theory can pick up the basics and much more.
Throughout his long career, Vai has remained a central figure in guitar and compositional circles. A student of the famous Berklee music school, he got his first major gig by playing for Frank Zappa. He’d go on to play with many popular acts such as Alcatrazz, White Snake, David Lee Roth, Mary J. Blige, Spinal Tap, and Ozzy Osbourne. He’s also been nominated for 15 Grammys, and has won 3, along with various other awards for his albums and performances.
While the theory courses found at some universities are considered too rigid and general to lend themselves well to guitarists in all aspects, this type of book is perfect for instrumentalists who want to learn theory in a way they could apply it. Vai is arguably the perfect person to take a holistic understanding of music theory and put it into action within the realm of the fretboard.
While Vai is known mostly for being a guitar god, he’s taken great effort to diversify his music. His recent Generation Axe tour featured multiple musical acts along with orchestrated arrangements. For the future, Vai is currently planning to record his orchestra pieces, which he says in total span about four hours.