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The Craft of Musical Composition: Theoretical Part - Book 1 (Tap/159) Paperback – October 1, 1984


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The Craft of Musical Composition: Theoretical Part - Book 1 (Tap/159) + The Craft of Musical Composition: Book 2 (Stap/067) + Elementary Training for Musicians (2nd Edition)
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Product Details

  • Series: Tap/159
  • Paperback: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Schott; 0004- edition (October 1, 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0901938300
  • ISBN-13: 978-0901938305
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 6.4 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #44,346 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

48 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Mark Wieczorek on January 24, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a largely self-taught musician. I did take guitar lessons (from a guy who could tell what chord you were playing by ear, but had no idea what notes went into them - no theory background whatsoever), and composition/ear training lessons from a classically trained composer who got his master's at Julliard. Still, a large part of my musical education was self taught. I read a lot of books, mostly old old dusty tomes that I was lucky enough to find in reprinted editions, and rarely if ever stuff that would be considered a textbook for a classroom.

My composition teacher introduced me to Hindemith, but in his Elementary Training for Musicians and Traditional Harmony books - both of which I diligently did the exercises in every week.

This is by far my favorite book on the subject of composition. While there's plenty that I've learned that isn't in this book, there's so much material in here that really strikes at the heart of harmony, that it's hard not to love it... or leave it, as the case may be - a few reviewers here seem to regard it as more of a cultural oddity than a book that shines a light on the dark places. Perhaps these reviewers have had the benefit of a traditional musical education & have spent years with far thicker tomes, such as Piston's perennial classroom favorites.

He begins (as did many theory books up until Hindemith's era) with an overview of the overtone series & the creation of the major scale. He goes one step beyond that, and through a series of convolutions, constructs a 12 tone scale that he derives from the overtone series (Rameau would be proud). I see the merit in this, but it seems largely academic to me. Either you'll use equal temperament in atonal composition, or you'll compose in a largely diatonic manner.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Jeremiah Lawson on September 12, 2003
Format: Paperback
Hindemith lays out his theoretical understanding of how music works and attempts to give musicians a basic starting point for composition that isn't limited to traditional tonal music (i.e. pre-Wagner and Debussy). His series 1 and 2 are contested to this day but they don't form the heart of the book, which is a broader, philosophical exposition of how composer's should think about music and approach it on a day-to-day basis. He argues that all music is tonal but it doesn't have to be major or minor.
I still don't buy the chord-reckoning method and Hindemith never reconciled himself the fact that his method can include jazz and pop--but this book is still one of the best books about composition I've read. Hindemith is probably the biggest exponent of the neo-classical school besides Stravinsky (others are Prokofiev and, to some degree, Bartok). This book goes a long way to explaining that perspective. Even if you play rock music you can still get a lot out of this book. Although he put down most of it Hindemith did like some jazz (Ellington and Andrew Hill, who studied with him some).
For a less technical exposition of Hindemith's ideas you may want to check out A Composer's World, which covers a lot of the same stuff.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 15, 1999
Format: Paperback
Paul Hindemith was a master of all aspects of music, including composition. In his three-volume set of compositional theory and exercises, he shows how the "old" music really works, and how modern practices don't disregard harmony, but how they simply expound on it. His other books of exercises are a must for any serious student of composition, or for anyone trying to see what makes Hindemith's works tick.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By War Eagle on November 12, 2012
Format: Paperback
Sorry for this cross-post, but I wanted to share information about Volume III.

I enjoyed working through the first two volumes of this series. Hindemith's books on composition are the first I ever used and are a model of clarity. Hence I was delighted to discover that there actually IS a Volume III, at least in German. In translation, the title is: "Exercises in Three-part Writing." Published 1970 by B. Schott's Soehne, Mainz. (Edition Schott 5205, ISBN 3-7957-1605-5, 251 pages.)

I bought my copy in Vienna. Couldn't believe that I found it.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By monsieurw1 on October 3, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Paul Hindemith did formidable work in his attempt to forge a new systematic theory of musical composition, based on ages-old data about the properties of sound (i.e. the overtone series). His theory allows for certain kinds of innovation, while remaining more grounded than the work of Schoenberg and other modernists. The result can seem a little dogmatic, but studying this exercises will help a composer to develop, as long as s/he doesn't become mired down in it. Musicians should study this book.
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Format: Paperback
This is a very interesting document by an important composer of the twentieth century. It provides his views on an approach to music that goes beyond the traditional theory of music through the common practice period. He goes into some theories on intervals, acoustics, and much more. This is NOT a book that will give you a grounding in the kind of music theory (actually music grammar education) that is given to freshman and sophomores at music schools.

As some of my fellow theory students noted, this is a great method to learn to compose like Hindemith, but who wants to do that anymore? Well, we want to learn more about him and his music, and this remains one of his principle statement of his musical approach. This is not for beginners and will likely be opaque to the general reader.
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