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Basic Music Theory: How to Read, Write, and Understand Written Music Paperback – 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 236 pages
  • Publisher: Sol Ut Press; 3rd edition (2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0970751281
  • ISBN-13: 978-0970751287
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.5 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #951,844 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Basic Music Theory is an ideal and highly recommended text for anyone of any background wanting to become proficient in the reading, composing, and performance of written and notated music."
--Midwest Book Review
(5 stars, highest rating)


"This is a book that covers lots of ground without ever appearing "difficult." It is written in a breezy, conversational manner, so one "talk" naturally drifts into the next."
--KLIATT Library Review Service


"Basic Music Theory by Jonathan Harnum explains the subject in a manner that is light-hearted and easy to follow. For someone in their late forties (like me) who hasn't had formal music training since the age of thirteen, it's been extremely useful. I can now say that I'm able to read music and understand some of the more-complex musical arrangements. I've been playing the saxophone for about 18 months now and the book has helped to bring me from a level of not being able to read music up to one of reasonable competence at sight reading.
--Chris Ward (Kendal, UK) 


"Basic Music Theory by Jonathan Harnum, is an excellent book for people of all levels. Whether you are a beginner, or learned musician, this book is a very comprehensive source of material, that is both accessible,easy to read & understand, and very enjoyable. I have played various instruments over 24 years.And because of Harnum's matter of fact, conversational tone, this book has lent more to my understanding of basic music theory than all my private insturctors combined. Easy and completely understandable!"
--Ruben Tamayo, Los Angeles, CA 


Basic Music Theory encompasses more than just the basics for beginning piano or violin students. Anyone who hopes to play any instrument should find this a great starting place. Harnum draws on his experience of having taught thousands of students to produce a book that's just loaded with information, yet manages to convey that information with a light touch and a bit of humor that makes it understandable for teens and adults, and maybe even for middle school students.
                                                    -Kathy Duffie, homeschool book reviews. Full review (is.gd/kowore)
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Publisher

This book is a unique and worthy addition to the library of anyone interested in music. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Welcome to my Amazon page. I'm a musician, writer and educator. For the last five or six years I've focused on playing jazz and absolutely love exploring the unlimited possibilites of free improvisation, in jazz or any other music. Playing Gypsy jazz on trumpet and rhythm guitar has been my musical focus for the last several years. Check out Django Reinhardt!

I'm at work on my next book,"The Practice of Practice," a result of nearly 5 years of study, including original research of my own on music practice, as well as more than 30 years of personal experience with music practice, playing, and teaching. Learn more on my blog, The Practice of Practice.

Since publishing my first book in 2001, thanks to the magic of the Internet, and the generosity of my publisher, Sol Ut Press, I've been able to give away well over a million e-books to music students all over the world. I believe the more people out there making music, the better off we all will be.

Customer Reviews

It's very clearly written and easy to understand.
Deidre Calarco
Studying music can be a long journey, but with this book, you'll gain tons of information that you really need for music in a short period of time.
Audie
Basic Music Theory by Jonathan Harnum, is an excellent book for people of all levels.
Ruben Tamayo

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Ruben Tamayo on February 13, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Basic Music Theory by Jonathan Harnum, is an excellent book for people of all levels. Whether you are a beginner, or learned musician, this book is a very comprehensive source of material, that is both accessible,easy to read & understand, and very enjoyable. I have played various instruments over 24 years.And because of Harnum's matter of fact, conversational tone, this book has lent more to my understanding of basic music theory than all my private insturctors combined.
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43 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Robin Giebelhausen on January 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
Learning music theory on your own is not something to be tried by the faint of heart, simply because it seems like that for every rule there are fifty million execptions. Sorta like the English language. hmmmm... Anywho, Jonathan Harnum has taken an overly complicated subject matter and made it learable for anyone. And I do mean anyone!! As he explains early in the book, previous music theory books really lack in completely explaining WHY things are the way they are. Harnum de-cryptifies all that is involved with music theory for the non-musician. But this book is not just for the non-musician! I have been a student of music for over 13 years and a teacher for 3 and I found myself finding new and interesting (and humorous) facts about music theory. This book can teach anyone music theory and keep a smile on their face the entire time.
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55 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Deidre Calarco on June 1, 2004
Format: Paperback
As someone who studied an instrument through high school but had no formal training in music theory, this book didn't tell me much that I didn't already know. It's for people with no performance OR theory background. It doesn't cover anything that you'd expect to learn in a college level class. But, it would be a great for someone who's never learned an instrument or for a kid at the elementary or middle school level. It's very clearly written and easy to understand.
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25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Midwest Book Review on September 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
In Basic Music Theory: How To Read, Write, And Understand Written Music, Jonathan Harnum draws upon more than ten years of experience and expertise as a music teacher to present the non-specialist general reader with a definitive and accessible introduction to music theory. At the end of each short chapter a review has been placed to insure that the reader has understood and assimilated the informative provided. Also provided at the conclusion of each chapter is a "practical use" exercise. At the the end of each major section or "Part" is a comprehensive review (complete with cross-referencing to the page number on which the information first appears). After every few chapters and covering other topics are "interludes" ranging from ultra-brief history of musical notation, how to practice, conducting, and a lesson in Italian musical terms. Basic Music Theory is an ideal and highly recommended text for anyone of any background wanting to become proficient in the reading, composing, and performance of written and notated music.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By "lucinda_larson" on November 20, 2002
Format: Paperback
I took band in junior high and am now rediscovering my instrument in college on my own. I forgot a lot of stuff since junior high and got this book as a present. Its great! Funny and simple, even when it explains tough ideas, like key signatures. The tricks he uses to get information across are great and have helped me a lot. This is a great book for anyone from junior high to adult!
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Brady J. Frey on September 21, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
4 stars for Content
0 stars for Kindle Format

The first quarter of the book was a clean, concise, and excellent introduction to Music Theory. Unfortunately, the Kindle version of the book was poorly formatted; it's as if they did a basic export of the content and didn't review how it looked!

Examples & tips were horribly illegible; some of the tip graphics were out of order, and the musical notes didn't coincide with the proper labeling because of it. I neared the end of chapter too, and couldn't take it anymore- the whole chapter on rhythm was lost entirely to formatting! I sent a note to Amazon, and received a refund... but I hope they take extra steps to improve the digital format. Until then, back to physical book for me.

Update: The author, Jonathan Harnum, was nice enough to email me personally thank me for the formatting comments. He plans on tackling as soon as possible - a welcome change, looks like I'll be buying the book again very soon. This is a top notch author, it's great to see such interaction in the online world!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Lucas Bizet on October 25, 2002
Format: Paperback
Most of my best teachers have been books, and this one is certainly added to my list. In high school what theory I did get was confusing and boring. Not so with this book. It's clear, concise, and maybe what I liked the best was it's style. It reminded me of sitting down and playing with a friend who knows more than I do and is willing to teach me what he knows. It's so much easier to learn that way. Great book. I highly recommend it!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Christopher Ward on April 14, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Basic Music Theory by Jonathan Harnum explains the subject in a manner that is light-hearted and easy to follow. For someone in their late forties (like me) who hasn't had formal music training since the age of thirteen, nor picked up a musical instrument until now, it's been extremely useful. To the extent that the dots, p's and d's on a musical score actually have meaning. There is a free pdf version of this book online (1st edition, which you can't print) but, honestly, it's well worth paying to get the hard copy. I can now say that I'm able to read music and understand some of the more-complex musical arrangements. I've been playing the saxophone for about 18 months now and the book has helped to bring me from a level of not being able to read music up to one of reasonable competence at sight reading.

The book is set out in seven parts, each part progressing the readers knowledge and ability in a logical manner. Naturally, parts 5, 6, and 7 require more of the reader than the earlier chapters, but I haven't come across anything that better explains the theory behind intervals and chords. It's an American book with American notation, so Harnum talks in terms of whole notes and fractions of notes, not crotchets and quavers, but that's fine with me.

I have two pieces of advice... Buy the book and, don't skip any section, test, or review until you're absolutely certain you understand the theory. Otherwise you'll either be a less competent musician, or you'll end up re-reading sections (like I did!).
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