So you'd like to...

Self-study Music Theory (revision 2)

A guide by Michael Ducharme "Music Student" (Winnipeg, Canada)
(REAL NAME)   

Products sampled from this guide:

Introduction
There are so many books out there to study rudimentary theory, harmony, and counterpoint. However, they are not all very useful for the self learner. What I have found, being a self-learner myself, is that the so called "Programed" instruction method was extremely helpful to me to ensure I got a full grasp of the materials.



Rudiments
The first place to start, if you are lacking some basic theory knowledge (key signatures, intervals, scales), is the excellent Basic Materials in Music Theory: A Programed Course (11th Edition). Go through this book and make sure that you have a good grasp of the materials. You will need it to move along to Harmony and Counterpoint.



Harmony
The best books in my opinion for beginning the self-study of harmony are the programed series by Steinke: Harmonic Materials in Tonal Music: A Programed Course, Part I (9th Edition) and Harmonic Materials in Tonal Music: A Programed Course, Part II (9th Edition) (Pt. 2)

However, these will not get you all the way. You will need to move onto a higher-level Harmony text to fill in some of the details. For this I would recommend either Tonal Harmony, with an Introduction to Twentieth-Century Music or Harmony and Voice Leading (the latter, while being the better text, is unfortunately more dependant on a teacher, as it does not have an answer key in the book like Tonal Harmony does.

As well, it is probably a good idea to study counterpoint at the same time as Harmony.

A few tips I'd like to give for those self studying harmony:

- Each book may give different rules of voice leading and doubling, which, though they largely are the same, sometimes conflict with each other. This confused me greatly while I was self studying Harmony. The reason for this is that the music theorists do not completely agree on some of the finer details of this subject. For more information on this, see:
http://mto.societymusictheory.org/issues/mto.04.10.2/mto.04.10.2.aarden_hippel.html
http://www.music-cog.ohio-state.edu/Huron/Publications/huron.voice.leading.html

- Each book may give different names for non-harmonic tones. There is little standardization in the names for the non-harmonic tones. Appogiaturas are infamous for this, with several conflicting meanings.

UPDATE! - Something I have found is that in all the Harmony books I listed above, there is very little insight as to how the rules of voice-leading apply to instrumental music. There is also very little explanation of what kind of ear-training regimen is required to accompany your Harmony studies.

I have recently come across a book that addresses both those issues: The Dynamics of Harmony: Principles and Practice. If as as part of your Harmony studies you wish to compose Instrumental music, and want help with your ear training to compose away from the piano, check it out. This book requires a few additional music books for study and analysis:

- 371 Harmonized Chorales and 69 Chorale Melodies with Figured Bass
- Mozart Sonatas and Fantasies Urtext Edition Study Score - The G Henle Verlag publishing company has a very cheap box set of study score-size Urtext editions of all Mozart's piano music. It is unfortunately not available through Amazon but is available through other sellers.
- The Schubert "Die Schone Mullerin" song cycle (Note: make sure you get this in the original key! There are a lot of transposed versions of this so that people can sing it in different voice ranges. Ex. Song #1 in the cycle is in B-flat major originally, some versions transpose it to F major, which screws up analysis a bit if you are following "The Dynamics of Harmony" text.


Counterpoint
Most universities seem to like to teach modal counterpoint before tonal counterpoint as that allows the student to focus on creating contrapuntal interest without having to worry about the harmonic progressions created. The book that I am using to study modal counterpoint is Modal Counterpoint, Renaissance Style as I have heard rave reviews on it. Though for counterpoint there are too many possible correct answers to have answer keys in the books, there is a wonderful software program called CounterPointer available that will evaluate your exercises and tell them if you got them correct. You can find it at:

http://www.ars-nova.com/counterpointer.html


What about form/analysis and ear training/sight singing?

I'm still determining which books are the best for studying form and analysis and ear training and sight singing. I have to amass a larger library of those before I can make recommendations.

UPDATE! - For Form and Analysis I have been studying Form in Music (2nd Edition) which is excellent, but has no included Anthology for study. I've also been reading Leon Stein's Structure and Style and it's accompanying anthology, but it is not nearly as enjoyable and understandable a read as the Wallace Berry text. I still have to check out "Musical Form and Analysis" and "Form in Tonal Music", which are very well respected texts in the field.

For Sight Singing, I think my best purchase so far as Sight Singing: Pitch, Interval, Rhythm (Second Edition). Also check out Hindemith's fantastic text Elementary Training for Musicians (2nd Edition) but keep in mind with the Hindemith that you'll need a music teacher or someone with musical ear training skills to give you the dictation exercises and score them.

Products mentioned include:
Rudiments
1.  Basic Materials in Music Theory: A Programed Course (11th Edition)  by Paul O. Harder
Used & New from: $6.66
4.4 out of 5 stars   (24)
  See buying options  Add to wishlist
Harmony
2.  Harmonic Materials in Tonal Music: A Programed Course, Part I (9th Edition)  by Paul O. Harder
Used & New from: $11.07
4.3 out of 5 stars   (9) | 1 customer discussion
  See buying options  Add to wishlist
3.  Harmonic Materials in Tonal Music: A Programed Course, Part II (9th Edition) (Pt. 2)  by Paul O. Harder
Used & New from: $1.50
5.0 out of 5 stars   (7)
  See buying options  Add to wishlist
4.  Tonal Harmony, with an Introduction to Twentieth-Century Music  by Stefan Kostka
Used & New from: $23.98
3.9 out of 5 stars   (48)
  See buying options  Add to wishlist
5.  Harmony and Voice Leading  by Edward Aldwell
Used & New from: $116.71
4.2 out of 5 stars   (12)
  See buying options  Add to wishlist
6.  The Dynamics of Harmony: Principles and Practice  by George Pratt
$63.00 Used & New from: $23.61
Add to cart  Add to wishlist
7.  371 Harmonized Chorales and 69 Chorale Melodies with Figured Bass  by Albert Riemenschneider
$8.84 Used & New from: $6.99
4.7 out of 5 stars   (25)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist
Counterpoint
8.  Modal Counterpoint, Renaissance Style  by Peter Schubert
Used & New from: $8.00
4.8 out of 5 stars   (5)
  See buying options  Add to wishlist
What about form/analysis and ear training/sight singing?
9.  Form in Music (2nd Edition)  by Wallace Berry
$107.88 Used & New from: $16.95
4.0 out of 5 stars   (6)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist
10.  Sight Singing: Pitch, Interval, Rhythm (Second Edition)  by Samuel Adler
$54.31 Used & New from: $30.00
4.2 out of 5 stars   (4)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist
11.  Elementary Training for Musicians (2nd Edition)  by Paul Hindemith
$18.96 Used & New from: $7.70
4.8 out of 5 stars   (13)
Add to cart  Add to wishlist

More Actions

Discover more about this author
 See all of their So You'd Like to...guides
Make your own guide
 Create a So You'd Like to...guide
View your page on Amazon.com
 Go to Your Profile page

Customer Discussions about products in this guide  
   

About this Guide

 

Author

Michael Ducharme "Music Student" (Winnipeg, Canada)
(REAL NAME)   
Qualifications: Self-Studying Student
Last updated: 4/2/06
Report abuse
    

More So You'd Like to...

 

   

More Listmania!

 

Music Theory Options for Review - L.S. Music Theory Options for Review - L.S.

Music Theory Options for Review - L.S.: A list of 19 items by Stephanie Meacham "Stephatto"

Guitar Instruction for Beginners Guitar Instruction for Beginners

Guitar Instruction for Beginners: A list of 23 items by SeekingTraveler "SeekingTraveler"

Beginner Guitar, Ages 10 and younger Beginner Guitar, Ages 10 and younger

Beginner Guitar, Ages 10 and younger: A list of 4 items by Russell Lacy Music

All round Musician All round Musician

All round Musician: A list of 31 items by Luis del Valle "Luis"

Anthropology Anthropology

Anthropology: A list of 13 items by Listmaniac