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Thread: A Good Music Theory/Harmony Book?

  1. #1
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    A Good Music Theory/Harmony Book?

    Hello, Hi, What's up, everybody?

    I'm a new student to music theory. I've been learning what I can off of free articles on the internet and youtube videos, and while this has been a great start I feel I need some serious literature to give me a really solid foundation in music theory.

    Can anybody recommend some good books on music theory/harmony for an aspiring music composer/music producer?

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2
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    Hi NeoLA

    I had the same problem as you one year ago.
    In my experience I've found that any book is good enough for all the harmony/theory subjects. When I say "good enough" I mean you can understand it easily.
    I've found that some books explain better (to me, off course) some subjects while others don't. The result is that you might end up using several books for the study of different chapters in theory.

    My recommendation is to start the study or theory by following the recommended chapter sequence and, for each chapter, try to find a book that explains it easily. When you get to the next chapter, use the first book and check if it explains the subject in a way that is ok with you. If not, look for another book.

    To "try" different books, without having to buy them, you can search google books or any other sites that allow you to access a free view of their contents.

  3. #3
    Registered User Pieter-Jan's Avatar
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    I really like "Jazz Theory" by Mark Levine. But I suppose it's a bit jazz oriented.
    You can't have a theme and variations if you don't have a theme.

  4. #4
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeoLA View Post
    I'm a new student to music theory. I've been learning what I can off of free articles on the internet and youtube videos, and while this has been a great start I feel I need some serious literature to give me a really solid foundation in music theory.
    No student will develop a "solid foundation in music theory" by reading.

    All a book can do is present a concept. But the act of really learning to understand that concept can only come from working the concept from as many different angles as you can perceive.

    You say you want to understand music theory. Do you know how to construct a major scale? Can you construct a major scale on any root? Have you memorized the major scales around the cycles of 5ths? Do you know how triads are constructed? Can you construct any triad type on any root?

    Understanding music theory requires the ability to be able to think in terms of notes, chords and keys. Until and unless you have these skills how will you learn about anything else?

    Music theory is so small and so simple that books are irrelevant. The articles by Guni on this site alone are more than enough to keep you busy for years as you work to develop a "solid foundation in music theory".

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by NeoLA View Post
    Hello, Hi, What's up, everybody?

    I'm a new student to music theory. I've been learning what I can off of free articles on the internet and youtube videos, and while this has been a great start I feel I need some serious literature to give me a really solid foundation in music theory.

    Can anybody recommend some good books on music theory/harmony for an aspiring music composer/music producer?

    Thanks in advance.
    If you are new to music theory (as your post says), then I really like the book by Barrett Tagliarino "Chord Tone Soloing" (link below).

    http://www.musicroom.com/se/ID_No/0404214/details.html

  6. #6
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jed View Post
    You say you want to understand music theory. Do you know how to construct a major scale? Can you construct a major scale on any root? Have you memorized the major scales around the cycles of 5ths? Do you know how triads are constructed? Can you construct any triad type on any root?

    Understanding music theory requires the ability to be able to think in terms of notes, chords and keys. Until and unless you have these skills how will you learn about anything else?

    Music theory is so small and so simple that books are irrelevant. The articles by Guni on this site alone are more than enough to keep you busy for years as you work to develop a "solid foundation in music theory".
    Music theory is really the understanding of a few basic concepts. Once you have those concepts under your belt then you can dig deeper. The study of theory can, if you want, keep you busy for the rest of your life. As you dig deeper you uncover other concepts. There is always something new to learn.

    Basic concept of harmony is the chord line and the melody line should share like notes at the same time in the song. A Google on - harmonizing the melody will take you to several papers on that subject. http://www.google.com/search?sourcei...izing+a+melody

    This elephant is best eaten one bite at a time. Bits and pieces from the Internet are just that, bits and pieces of the story, I suggest you go to your public library and see what they have on harmonizing a melody. They may not have anything you need, however, they can search other libraries and borrow the book for you. Normally at no charge to you. My WOW's came from these pure theory books, not from the Internet or guitar specific books. Once I understood the basic concept of how music thinks - then - the information on the Internet becomes something I can use as I understand where the bits and pieces are coming from.

    Sorry I can not give you the names of those WOW books. Years ago the library gave me three books; I read them and then returned them to the library.

    Have fun.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 06-26-2011 at 12:03 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quick edit to say - if NeoLA is not actually a guitarist and not in fact a relative beginner, then I also like Jazzology (as recommended also by JonR in another recent thread). That's not a book for a relative beginners in rock guitar though - http://www.musicroom.com/se/ID_No/0201860/details.html

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    Thanks for the replies, everybody. I'll look into what you've all suggested.

  9. #9
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    Practical Theory Complete, by Sandy Feldstein
    ISBN 0-88284-225-0

    This one is great, guitar oriented. Very practical with exercises.

  10. #10
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    This is a great little one for the basics of conventional theory:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Steps-.../dp/1860960901
    It's classically biased - which simply means it's NOT biased in a pop, rock, jazz or guitar direction, but is dispassionate and traditional - and is aimed at students of the UK ABRSM grade exams. But it's very clear and concise in laying out the basic concepts (up to Grade 5, a kind of midway point), beginning with notation of course.
    Highly recommended.

    With any theory text (as I'm sure Jed, at least, will agree ), make sure you can PLAY all the concepts you read about. Any music theory is pointless unless you know how it sounds.

  11. #11
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    With any theory text (as I'm sure Jed, at least, will agree ), make sure you can PLAY all the concepts you read about. Any music theory is pointless unless you know how it sounds.
    I agree completely (in case there was any doubt) !!

  12. #12
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    You should check out Lypur's videos on youtube. "Learn free music theory". I actually find it hard to understand why someone would give up so much of their time to a series like this but it is appreciated nonetheless. He's up to video number 45 - most of which are 30 mins long or close to it.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by BlindSummit View Post
    You should check out Lypur's videos on youtube. "Learn free music theory". I actually find it hard to understand why someone would give up so much of their time to a series like this but it is appreciated nonetheless. He's up to video number 45 - most of which are 30 mins long or close to it.
    Also, it depends where you are with theory as for literature. Are you comfortable with scales, chords and intervals? Can you read music?

  14. #14
    †Guitar Hero† ndrewoods's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    This is a great little one for the basics of conventional theory:
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/First-Steps-.../dp/1860960901
    It's classically biased - which simply means it's NOT biased in a pop, rock, jazz or guitar music direction, but is dispassionate and traditional - and is aimed at students of the UK ABRSM grade exams. But it's very clear and concise in laying out the basic concepts (up to Grade 5, a kind of midway point), beginning with notation of course.
    Highly recommended.

    With any theory text (as I'm sure Jed, at least, will agree ), make sure you can PLAY all the concepts you read about. Any music theory is pointless unless you know how it sounds.
    Read this back then and it's a great book. Very direct to the point that really allows readers to understand the concept of the theory. And yeah, it is not biased in pop, rock, jazz or guitar direction like what you can read in other books.
    Last edited by ndrewoods; 09-04-2011 at 07:15 AM.

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