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The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory, 2nd Edition (Complete Idiot's Guides (Lifestyle Paperback)) Paperback – September 6, 2005
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Top Customer Reviews
After finishing this book, I read the "Dummies" music theory book, and found that it often does a better job of getting concepts across, including a far better and more useful explanation of the circle of fifths. I recommend reading both books, as one reinforces the other... each one has its own strengths and weaknesses, but together they give you a pretty rounded introduction to music theory. If you are only going to read one and you are a beginner, I would have to recommend the Dummies book for its clearer presentation of the basics of both melody and rhythm. On the other hand, if you already have a pretty good grasp of intervals, scales, keys, and rhythm, you might find more useful information in the Idiot's Guide.
Both books have their share of errors, but the Idiot's Guide has a corrections list posted on the author's website, whereas the "Dummies" authors apparently can't be bothered to post an errata list (and believe me, there are a load of printing mistakes in the "Dummies" book).
Part one talks about the notes of a scale,the different types of clefs and staves, the intervals between notes, major and minor scales, and keys and key signatures. Part two, on rhythm, starts by teaching you what simple whole notes are and moves on to sixteenth notes and syncopations. Also covered are time signatures, tempo and dynamics, and how to navigate through a piece of music. In part three, Tunes, you learn how to put tones and rhythms together to create a melody. Next you learn how to add chords to your tunes and find out about chord progressions and song forms. At this point, you have what you need to create your own pieces of music. Part 4, on accompaniment, teaches you how to train your ears so you can write down music as you hear it. You'll be able to create simple accompaniment parts on piano or guitar.Read more ›
There are a couple of areas that I have run across that need to be addressed however.
1: Do not recommend attempting to work through this book without either owning or having ready access to a keyboard or piano. Keep in mind that I'm writing this from the standpoint of the beginner when I say this. Although this book is supposed to be geared for all instruments, starting with Chapter 2 the material may prove to be confusing without being able to reference an actual keyboard. While the author does make this point in the introduction, this is something that I notice has been skipped over in the book's description and likewise would likely be missed by someone who is simply browsing for a book on the subject.
2: The ear training disk. Good in concept, but weak in execution. The way Mr. Miller approaches the subject is to play a note on the disk, then have the student copy the note on the piano, then write it down on music paper. Personally I like the approach as it not only develops the ear training but also sight reading and reinforcing where the notes are on your instrument.Read more ›
Corrections to the Second Edition
Chapter 1, p. 5: The frequency for middle C is actually 261Hz, not 256Hz -- and if you can hear that difference, you have golden ears! In addition, middle C on a guitar is the fifth fret of the G string, not the A string.
Chapter 2, p. 21: The Note on perfect intervals is slightly misleading. Put more simply, the whole concept of perfect intervals has to do with the ratios between frequencies; perfect intervals sound so closely related because their frequencies are closely related. For example, a perfect octave has a ratio of 2:1 between the two frequencies -- the octave is twice the frequency of the starting pitch (which is called the fundamental). If the fundamental is 440Hz, the octave above is twice that frequency, or 880Hz. Similarly, a perfect fifth has a ratio of 3:2; you take the starting pitch and multiply it by 3/2 to get the perfect fifth above (660Hz for a 440Hz fundamental). A perfect fourth has a ratio of 4:3; multiply the fundamental by 4/3 to get the perfect fourth (586Hz for a 440Hz fundamental). Other intervals have more complex ratios, which make them less perfect. For example, a perfect third has a ratio of 5:4, not quite as simple as 2:1, 3:2, or 4:3. Put into a series, each increasingly complex interval/ratio forms what is called a harmonic series, and the individual intervals/ratios (in order) are called harmonics.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
It is a great book and has helped me out a lot on understanding more about music. It may be too in depth for me at times. Used with the internet it sure helps.Published 29 days ago by John L. Arnn
Great book I used when teaching music theory as a substitute teacher, because no we don't always get the sheets handed to us to teach from.Published 1 month ago by Megan D.
Excellent introduction to music theory for the novice.
Exercises at the end of each chapter are very helpful.
fab book if you are serious about learning to read music! It's fun and simple, Thank youPublished 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
Its basically the college textbook on music theory but for a lot less.Published 2 months ago by Johny D
There are quite a few detailed reviews here, so I'll write a brief one. This is a terrific, well written book that has made an enormous contribution to my progress in becoming a... Read morePublished 2 months ago by A Reader
These books generally present complex materials in a very easily understood fashion. The introduction is particularly poignant for me as it is a similar circumstance - this is a... Read morePublished 2 months ago by William Belcher
One of the best music theory books for the hobbyists musician I've read. I even used this book to get my wife through her college music course. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Proteus72