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music theory

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by mlunatic27, Nov 8, 2012.

  1. mlunatic27


    Oct 9, 2012
    I'm in the process of learning theory
    Ive been reading this download that some one shot over to me on here thats been helpful but not to in depth for a beginner like me
    Any good books you guys recommend on theory and chord harmonizing and all that good stuff
    I want something that lays it all out
  2. mlunatic27


    Oct 9, 2012
    Thanks man
    Any other suggested books
    Keep them coming
    That book sounds promising though ima buy it
    Did you buy it it and was it helpful to you "iiipopes"?
  3. "Harmony & Voice Leading" by Edward Aldwell & Carl Schachter. Well written & easy to read.

    Another good one is "Classical Form: A Theory of Formal Functions for the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven" by William Caplin; this one is obviously centered primarily around the Common-Practice period, but that is the period from which most of the theory people talk about or want to learn about on these forums is derived.

    If you're looking for a good introductory textbook to 20th-century music (atonal, serialism, etc...) try "Introduction to Post-Tonal Theory" by Joseph Straus.

    Keep in mind, in case you weren't already aware, that a good theory book is going to be a general theory book, i.e. - not bass-specific. Many of them are also written as textbooks, meaning there's an assumption made by the authors that the books will be accompanied by instruction from someone who already understands theory, and many of the concepts (especially in the beginning) are designed to be illustrated and practiced at the keyboard. That’s not to say, however, that they wouldn’t work with self-study and using a bass to work through things.
  4. JonahP1


    Jul 5, 2012
    My Bass teacher recommended a book to me called Practical Theory. It is basically a music theory book designed to be used to teach yourself, not to say having a teacher while learning things in this book would be bad. It goes from things as simple as the staff to Chord harmonization, writing melodies to reading music etc. So far it has been pretty helpful.
  5. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    I don't think that these authors are easy to read at all. Visually, quite dense: lots of walls of text and such. The content is good, but if you want something a little easier on the eyes, look into the aforementioned Tonal Harmony by Stefan Kostka and Dorothy Payne, or Harmony in Context by Miguel Roig-Francoli. Music Theory For Dummies is an okay introduction.

    This. Music theory is typically a dry subject, and is a little difficult to self-teach. I find that this website does a good job of pacing things: www.musictheory.net
  6. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    You will find that most books on harmony are specific to an instrument and therefore not broad enough to really get the whole stroy. Ditto to www.musictheory.net Specifically Lessons then common chord progressions. Here is what that site points you to:

    • Chords and their function in a progression. Upper case numbers, I-IV-V indicate major chords and lower case numbers, ii, iii & vi indicate minor chords. There are three major chords in a normal 7 note scale, three minor chords and one diminished chord.
    • The I chord can move any where it wants to in a progression.
    • The ii chord is a sub-dominant chord. It's task in life is to move to a dominant chord. As the IV is also a sub-dominant chord these two chords can and do substitute for each other.
    • The iii chord's task in life is the began a journey. The iii likes to drag the vi with it when it goes on that journey.
    • The IV chord is also a sub-dominant chord and wants to move to a dominant chord. As the IV and ii are both sub-dominant chords they can sub for each other. Would you move from the ii to a IV? You could, however, you have not moved the progression along as both are sub-dominant chords.
    • The V chord is dominant. It's task is to move to the I tonic chord. When you make the V chord into a V7 chord you have increased it's tension and it wants to move to the I tonic chord RIGHT NOW. I call the V7 chord the climax chord.
    • The vi chord wants to move to a sub-dominant chord.
    • The vii chord is the diminished chord. It is also a dominant chord like the V chord. It wants to move to the I tonic chord, however, is in no hurry to do so and is often used to lead you somewhere as in the classic turn-a-round vii-iii-vi-ii-V7-I. It being a dominant chord the V and vii can substitute for each other. If you want to resolve to the I tonic chord right now use the V7, if you want to resolve to the I tonic chord, but, are in no hurry then the vii will do that.
    So chords have two functions; 1) they move the progression along from rest, to tension, to climax, to resolution and return to rest. Then 2) the chords harmonize the melody line, i.e. to have harmony the chord should share some like notes with the melody that is active when the chord is being used. I've listed a video on how to harmonize the melody to Mary Had a Little Lamb below. Pay attention to why the Am chord was not used, that is a very interesting point.

    So you have two tasks to accomplish when you place chords into your progression; 1) movement and 2) harmony.

    Ask Google to pull up something on how to harmonize a melody line. I found this helpful;

    One last thing. To help learn how specific chords get into a key learn how to take a scale and stack it's notes in 3rds, i.e. every other one. That was a really big WOW for me.
    C Major scale – notes and chords
    Note	 ScaleTone 	Chord	spelling	        function
    C		1	Cmaj 7	CEGB R-3-5-7 		I	(tonic)
    D		2	Dmin 7	DFAC R-b3-5-b7		ii
    E		3	Emin 7	EGBD R-b3-5-b7		iii
    F		4	Fmaj 7	FACE R-3-5-7		IV	(subdominant)
    G		5	G7	GBDF R-3-5-b7		V	(dominant)
    A		6	Amin 7	ACEG R-b3-5-b7		vi	
    B		7	Bmin7b5	BDFA R-b3-b5-b7		viidim  (diminished)

    Have fun.
  7. BassChuck


    Nov 15, 2005
    Music theory is a pretty big subject really. If you can confine yourself to that aspects of theory that apply to bass playing first and then expand from there it would be wisest.
  8. mlunatic27


    Oct 9, 2012
    Thanks guys
  9. mlunatic27


    Oct 9, 2012
    @bass Chuck
    What direction would you point me in than
    On the theory of bass playing?
  10. Bainbridge


    Oct 28, 2012
    You gotta know your chords. Take a I IV V progression: A D E. Break those chords into their note content:

    A = A C# E
    D = D F# A
    E = E G# B

    Play the roots of those chords. That's easy, it's the name of the chord: A D E
    Then play the thirds of those chords: C# F# G#
    Then, play the fifths of those chords: E A B

    Now mix it up. Play the third of I: C#
    Now the root of IV: D
    And the root of V: E

    Woohoo! Scalar motion! Let's do another one.

    Root of I: A
    5th of IV: A (same note, eh!)
    3rd of V: G#

    Compare the movement involved in that melodic movement to just playing the roots. There's a lot less jumping around when you go C# D E or A A G# instead of A D E. This exercise isn't really a 'music theory' lesson, but it should teach you to look at what's going on inside the chords and consider the different movements that are possible between chords. This is what's known as "voice leading", and is the basis of somewhere around 100% of Western harmony.
  11. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    As Chuck has not checked in ....... yes, how to construct bass lines using chord tones.

    Three books I would recommend."
    • Bass Lines in Minutes by Kris Berg. Basic facts, not as detailed as the next book, but, when just starting out that has value.

    • Building Walking Bass Lines by Ed Friedland. Ed has a talent for putting words and visuals together so you understand what he is talking about. Perhaps the best all round bass line book, of course IMO.

    • The Bottom Line by Todd Coolman. Do not remember as much about this book, however, the margins are full of my notations, so at the time I did learn from it.

    If you could find any of them at your library or music store it would be time well spent. Amazon.com will have all three.
  12. sammyp


    Aug 20, 2010
    NB, Canada
    The start of all things theory is Intervals ....learned to name the distance between two notes! google that ....it's a great start ....memorize it, apply it to bass then everything else will be clearer!

    others have pointed out learning chords ....chords mean so much more when you understand intervals!
  13. wrench45us


    Aug 26, 2011
  14. G'day Malcolm, that's the best explanation of scale-chords and their purpose that I've ever read. Would you mind if I borrowed it to give to students?

  15. MalcolmAmos

    MalcolmAmos Supporting Member

    Certainly, help yourself. None of that is original thought, I read it somewhere myself, but, thanks for the kind words.
  16. hgiles


    Nov 8, 2012
    I would suggest getting the Jazz Theory Book. Dont be put off by the title. Basic theory is the same; and that is -- understanding what is what and WHERE it is in relationship to the other things.