Beginner music theory books?

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by lildrgn, Oct 5, 2000.

  1. lildrgn


    Jul 11, 2000
    Seattle, WA

    Years ago I learned a bit of music theory. I felt like I was almost there, then I stopped short of it becoming "automatic". So now I want to get back into it and, short of going to class or taking lessons, does anyone know of any good books about theory? I tried looking under the Books for Idiots and Dummies series and found nothing.

    Thanks in advance!

  2. dot74


    Aug 24, 2000
    Well, I myself have asked this question (not on this board tho) and since you've opened the floor:

    I went to AMA*ON.COM and ran a search: it came back with 1380 different titles and I've not read any of them so I'm not sure which one is the best, however this was at the top of the list:

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

    This one is only $9.85.

    Hope this helps.
  3. lildrgn


    Jul 11, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    hey Ed,

    I just want to raise my playing to the next level. I feel like I'm stuck in a Pentatonic Haze and want to bust out of it with more melodic lines.

    I don't think it'll be easy, but definitely something I can do.

    Thanks for the input!
  4. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Whatever book you pick up, a good supplement to that is the Harvard Music Dictionary. It's a thick book, and can get technical sometimes, but can be a great help to define something in a theory book which might be vague. Think of it this way, theory is a language, and when you learn another language like Spanish or French or Swahili, generally you get a pocket dictionary to go along with it. Same concept at work. In fact, I read mine from cover to cover when I got it, and it was like getting 6 months worth of theory lessons. It also helped stretch my knowledge, because when you get a book, it generally covers things in some sort of order pertaining to a specific goal or idea, like a jazz theory book isn't going to have anything on opera concepts. The dictionary is so comprehensive, that not only do I learn theory, but I learn acoustics, mathematical concepts of pitch, history, and more. So when you get a theory book, pick this one up as well!
  5. JazznFunk

    JazznFunk Supporting Member

    Mar 26, 2000
    Asheville, NC
    Lakland Basses Artist
    I recommend the book that my college professor in theory from last year wrote and published back in 1995. I used this book for my theory class back in the spring and it's excellent. It speaks from more of a classical perspective, but it wonderful. I still use it for reference and study a lot. It's called "Introductory Music Theory" by Dr. Joyce Dorr.

    Check it out...

  6. Another thing you can try to break out of the "pentatonic haze" is to get out a tape recorder, any old cheap one will do, set down your bass (yep, set it down) and sing some improvised lines into the recorder. It doesn't matter how good or bad you sing. Sometimes humming is better because its less physically stressfull and you hear yourself better. After you hum some lines onto tape, pick up your bass and play the tape back and figure out the hummed lines on your bass.

    This may seem odd to you but it is a tried and true method. I "discovered" this technique soon after I took up bass. Someone would play a song for me and want me to come up with a bassline. Since I started out as a singer, it was natural for me to sing a bassline to myself as I listened then I'd figure out on bass what I had sung to myself. I've since found that others use this technique such as Jamey Aebersold, who recommends this to students who are beginning to learn jazz improvisation. Try it out.
  7. lildrgn


    Jul 11, 2000
    Seattle, WA
    Has anyone heard of Essential Music Theory for Bass Guitar? It's by a guy named Robert S. Garner and by all accounts, looks like a great resource. Only thing is that you can't order it from the publisher directly (phone or Internet, it seems) and Am@zon says that they may or may not be able to get it.

    Does anyone else know where one might find that book? Or has anyone ever seen it?
  8. Ah! you need Edly...

    Edly has a unique approach to music theory - definitely worth checking out...

  9. hell_awaits


    May 2, 2000
    I know you are looking for a book, but...

    Have you looked into taking any classes? I'm currently taking a basic music theory class at a local community college, and the amount of information that I have learned so far has helped my playing tremendously. In addition, the tuition for that class was pretty cheap(three dollars/per unit, and the book was about twenty-five bucks).

    BTW, here's a great site for basic theory. All of the lessons are outlined in simple platform.

    [Edited by hell_awaits on 10-15-2000 at 02:11 PM]