Anyway, Steve wrote this about three months ago, then abandoned his personal blog. That's a well-written piece by an engaging author, about his inability to reconcile his ears with music theory.
Although it was perfectly clear to me that if the answer to the question, “What is a D Major chord?” was “D F# A”, and if the answer to the question “What is D F# A?” was “D Major”, that I hadn’t learned anything at all about that D Major triad.I must disagree. I really think he's asking music theory to do something it was never meant to do. Music theory to my mind is about establishing an instruction set, a shorthand to allow the composer to tell the musician what to play. It establishes a vocabulary, a way of talking about what we expect to play, so we can say "D major" or "D" instead of "Put your index finger on the third string second fret, your middle dinger on the first string second fret, and your ring finger on the second finger third fret". Science is to be involved in explaining that, and
I thought the ‘music theory” bit was going to explain to me why I felt the way I did when I played and listened to music,
but instead it just churned out a bunch of circular logic bullshit, perfectly protected by the really not so diabolically clever Catch 22: DON’T ASK WHY!!
I confess, my ear is not nearly as developed as his is, and with the ringing I hear when I sit in a quiet room, I'm quite sure that it will never be nearly that good. (Curse you, Ramones.) Considering that guitarists, as a class, think of intonation as something you do with a screwdriver whenever you change strings, I believe it's well worth considering these issues, learning more. I don't think that the language of music theory is able to contain the question, much less the answer, but he starts this as a young learning guitar player, and that's a bit much to expect someone to understand. But recognizing a chord by the notes is as circular a logic as recognizing poison ivy by the number of points on the leaf. Far better to recognize than to have to count.