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Topic: Those music theory books you all mentioned....

  1. #1

    Those music theory books you all mentioned....

    ....were lost somehow. I know I had a .txt file with it. Who knows, what with the problems my machine had recently.

    I\'m looking for some good music theory books to go through and maybe learn some stuff to help me when I get stuck. Preferably a book I can sit down with at my keyboard and try stuff out as I go.. something \"hands on.\"

    SO, any suggestions? I get my library card in a couple days.. I want to put it to good use. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] Thanks a bunch!

  2. #2

    Re: Those music theory books you all mentioned....

    I\'m not sure I understand the \'hands on\' aspect of music theory you describe, but I\'ve got these books which I\'ve found to be very readable and useful - they assume you can read music, that\'s about it for prerequisites though.

    1. Tonal Harmony - Kostka & Payne (in a nutshell, chords and how they flow from one to the next.) It has a decent chunk of basic theory review in the first 3 chapters.

    2. The Technique of Orchestration - Kennan (useful for gaining a better understanding of how the different instruments complement each other in an orchestra, and how to arrange their parts)

    3. I\'d recommend a Counterpoint book if I had one. There\'s a few out there but I haven\'t decided what will be least esoteric.

    For more fundamental concepts or technique exercises you can probably find any number of rudimentary theory (sometimes called \"preliminary rudiments\") and technique books in just about any local music/piano store.

  3. #3

    Re: Those music theory books you all mentioned....

    Thanks! I\'ve added those books to my list.

    Here\'s my own list of books I dug up on Amazon.com.. can anyone comment on any of these? These are in no particular order. I have some pretty basic books here, as I really need to know how chord progressions work & such.

    All About Chords: A Comprehensive Approach to Understanding Contemporary Chordal Structures and Progressions Through Solid Drills in Suggested Study by Elvo S. D\'Amante; Paperback

    Study of Orchestration, Third Edition by Samuel Adler; Hardcover

    Hearing and Writing Music: Professional Training for Today\'s Musician (2nd Edition) by Ron Gorow; Paperback

    Complete Guide to Film Scoring: The Art and Business of Writing Music for Movies and TV by Richard Davis; Paperback

    Principles of Orchestration by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov; Paperback

    Basic Materials in Music Theory: A Programed Course (9th Edition) by Paul O. Harder, Greg A. Steinke; Paperback

    Harmony & Theory: A Comprehensive Source for All Musicians (Essential Concepts (Musicians Institute).) by Keith Wyatt, Carl Schroeder; Paperback

    Practical Theory Complete: A Self-Instruction Music Theory Course by Sandy Feldstein; Spiral-bound

  4. #4

    Re: Those music theory books you all mentioned....

    Hi MDesigner,

    \"Principles of Orchestration by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov\", is a must have if you are going to study orchestration carefully! I would also get \"Study of Orchestration\". It\'s great book.

    To learn harmony - I would get a book called \"Harmony\" by Walter Piston. It\'s very good book, however there are some mixed oppinions about it. Either you love it or you hate it. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

    Hope this helps.


  5. #5

    Re: Those music theory books you all mentioned....

    For jazz theory, try The Jazz Theory Book By Mark Levine.

  6. #6

    Re: Those music theory books you all mentioned....

    I\'ll give it another plug - my #1 favorite theory book: Counterpoint in Composition by Salzer and Schachter. Not for beginners, but gives the best practical approach to counterpoint that I\'m aware of.

  7. #7

    Re: Those music theory books you all mentioned....

  8. #8

    Re: Those music theory books you all mentioned....

    Man, this has become quite a list! [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    Maybe I should\'ve narrowed down what I really need. Here\'s my problem with composition: usually I\'ll start out on a real roll. Sometimes I can crank out 40-60 seconds of music within an hour or two. Then I get stuck for one reason or another. It\'s usually because whatever melody or theme I had in my head, I\'ve exhausted.. I can\'t keep repeating it over & over. It\'s time to change to another tempo/key/etc. But I don\'t know where to go exactly.

    This is where I could use some help. It would be nice to be able to fall back on rules, and say \"OK, my last key was B-major, and I ended on such-and-such inverted chord.. based on that, I know my options are A, B, and C.\"

    For instance, have a listen:


    It flows pretty well, and somehow, I actually managed a nice, smooth change at 0:21. Then I stick with that motif for a while. At 0:40, I repeat, but embellish with some winds & light strings. Then, at 1:00, I repeat & embellish more, bringing horns in. But this is about as far as I can take it before it becomes repetitive. It\'s time to change again... but I\'m stuck.

    So, given this real-life scenario.. which of the aforementioned books would help me out? [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]

    Thanks again. You all are extremely helpful, I really appreciate the time you\'re taking to recommend these materials.

  9. #9

    Re: Those music theory books you all mentioned....

    Originally posted by MDesigner:
    So, given this real-life scenario.. which of the aforementioned books would help me out? [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Well, I think Lee gave some good ideas in the above post.

    One other thing you might want to check out would be books about musical form. I listened to your piece, and it\'s really nice, but if you want to move on, you really need to define where you want to go formally. For some composers, the form is even defined before finding the notes! I remember some composer saying something like: \"I just composed a great sonata. Now I just need to find the notes!\".

    With that in mind, you might need to find another theme, and find a link between your two themes, and then after a while come back to the first theme to end the piece. There are many possibilities, using standard forms that are often used in music, of varying a form into a new one.

    So I really believe understanding forms correctly might help you. Charles Rosen wrote a book called Sonata Forms that is great in regards to this point. I guess there are many other forms or formal analysis books out there.

    Good luck,

  10. #10

    Re: Those music theory books you all mentioned....

    Another thing you may want to persue is studying scores. If there\'s a composer that you really like and full scores are available, buy the score.
    By doing this, I\'ve learned when/how to use a lot of the common instrument doublings.
    Of course, that\'s an orchestration observation and those are probably the easiest to observe from the score. You\'ll need at least a basic knowledge of chords in order to recognize progressions, but it looks like you have that.
    Also, some scores are way easier to learn from than others. Holst\'s The Planets is a relatively easy one, while Stravinsky\'s Rite of Spring is far more advanced.
    Another problem is you won\'t be able to get the full score for certain composers, like Shostakovich. I\'m not exactly sure why Dover only sells certain composers. I just checked out Shostakovich\'s 5th and 10th symphony scores from San Jose State University, but the local library didn\'t have them.
    I also think improvisation is very important. I get lots of ideas from that. About half just pop into my head though, then I figure out what\'s in my mind at keyboard.

    Anthony Lombardi

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