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Thread: A good Music Theory starting book for students

  1. #1
    Registered User Shane's Avatar
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    A good Music Theory starting book for students

    Hello everyone, I'm new to the boards (as you can probably tell) and I was wondering if any of you know a really decent Music Theory text/exercise book which I could use for teaching students. The exercise book I used in AP Music Theory back in high-school is more composition-based, and I really need to find something good for mastering the basics...

    Thanks guys

  2. #2
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
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    What do you consider the basics? What level are your students at?
    Why don't you make your own lessons, customized for each student?
    "Listen to the Spaces Between the sounds."
    Szulc's Site

  3. #3
    Registered User Shane's Avatar
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    sorry, probably should have specified. The kids that I am teaching are new to Music Theory completely, and I would be customizing lessons to their needs, I just wanted to find a book that would give me a professional layout of stuff like melodic dictation, realizing figured bass, four-part writing, and harmonizing melodies, so they could understand it easier. (As I have probably forgot a little myself).

  4. #4
    Groovy Bastard Maarten's Avatar
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    You could use the "Workbook for harmonic practice in tonal music" by Robert Gauldin, although it isn't really aimed at kids. It does cover everything from the basics to advanced harmonies with a lot of four voice exercises.

    It doesn't provide lines for melodic dictation but you could use any simple classical melody for that.

    There is also a theory book by Gauldin, but it isn't neccessary to have it if you teach the theory verbally.
    Stop talking about modes and start working on your groove.

  5. #5
    Afro-Cuban Grunge-Pop Bongo Boy's Avatar
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    Originally posted by Shane stuff like melodic dictation, realizing figured bass, four-part writing...
    Wow! Three new terms I've never heard of before! Can anyone talk about what these are--just to get me started?
    Pulsing the System with Confirmed Nonsense.

  6. #6
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
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    4 part writing is where you take a melody and harmonize it for Soprano, Alto , Tenor and Bass Voices. This typically involves voice leading. There are many rules to follow (no parallel 5ths etc..) and some procedures to determine what the chord change is (which is some what open to interpretation if you have only 1 line). Figured bass is where the Chord symbols are written in a way that shows you the inversions of the chord that are being used (I 6 indicates 1st inversion and I 6/4 second inversion).
    I suspect that melodic dictation is similar to the part we have discussed in 'Close Encounters Of the third Kind', where solfege hand signs and terms like 'semi-quaver' were used.
    Last edited by szulc; 01-03-2003 at 02:58 AM.
    "Listen to the Spaces Between the sounds."
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  7. #7
    Registered User Shane's Avatar
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    melodic dictation is a really useful exercise in my opinion, and it is simply giving the student score paper, and playing melodies for them, and seeing how much they can get down after a certain amount of playings. The student is informed of the time signature, and it is up to them to deduce where the beats fall in the measure, along with appropriate rests and/or ties. This was the hardest part of the AP exam for me, but I feel it has improved my aural skills dramatically

    EDIT: Thank you Maarten, sounds like some good material for me to look into purchasing

  8. #8
    IbreatheMusic Author Bizarro's Avatar
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    Shane, I like your band's web site. I didn't see any tunes posted yet but I'd like to hear some.

    Bongo Boy, if you can swing it you should take "Music Theory 101" or whatever it's called at your local community college. It's probably going to run you about $300 but it's well worth it. The 4-part stuff should come very easily to you if you're a database guy!

    My first theory class used "Tonal Harmony with an Introduction to Twentieth Century Music" but this was back in '89! The book is decent enough, and it covers all the stuff Shane was talking about.

    Melodic dictation can be a real challenge! We did that on my first day in "Ear Training" to level set everyone. All the choir and piano players rocked through it. Most of us "dumb" guitar players were crying (on the inside ) Basically the teacher played several random melodies and we had to write them out on the staff. We had one gal with perfect pitch (or something close to it)... It was very humbling to see her nail everything (she had amazing, instantaneous relative pitch ability too).
    -Bizarro
    Google is your friend

  9. #9
    Registered User Shane's Avatar
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    thanks a lot Bizarro, we NEED to get our originals up there, (along with lyrics updates), I'll get the demo up on mp3.com after our next recording session next week.

    Haha, theory class memories, I remember the week before taking the exam we had all been slacking off and our instructor said to us "So what exactly are your goals in this coarse guys?!" It made me kinda sad for not doing all the work and inspired me to cram,

  10. #10
    Resident Curmudgeon szulc's Avatar
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    'Music in Theory and Practice' by Bruce Benward
    'Harmonic Materials in Tonal Music' by ???
    "Listen to the Spaces Between the sounds."
    Szulc's Site

  11. #11
    Afro-Cuban Grunge-Pop Bongo Boy's Avatar
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    Re: A good Music Theory starting book for students

    Originally posted by Shane I was wondering if any of you know a really decent Music Theory text/exercise book which I could use for teaching students.
    I've been using a Hal-Leonard Publishing book entitled Contemporary Music Theory--Level Two, by Mark Harrison. This text is used at the Grove School of Music in LA, just FYI.

    I have not seen the Level 1 book, but I plan to buy it based on the Level 2 volume. These include exercises and there's quite a bit of narrative along with excellent diagrams. The author also ties most of his discussion to solfege syllables, and there is also a complimentary Ear Training volume as well.

    Because it's readily available from many sources, it should also have an advantage. I'd recommend you take a look at least--it's exactly what I was looking for and I've seen nothing better.
    Pulsing the System with Confirmed Nonsense.

  12. #12
    Registered User metallibeast's Avatar
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    Hi, I got the contemporary music theory lvl 1 book.

    Its a pretty good begining music theory book.
    Teaches the basic notations, how to read the staff....up to construction of triads and 7th chords.

    -Beast

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